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EDITORIAL – What about those produce bags and doggie-poop bags?

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THE UPHILL BATTLE against plastic is amply demonstrated by the draft bylaw going in front of Kamloops City council this week.

Council deserves credit for moving toward a ban on single-use take-out plastic bags in grocery stores and the like.

Under the proposed bylaw — which will go out for public consultation over the next few months — customers could bring their own reusable bags or the business could sell them paper or reusable bags.

It’s a good first step but exceptions outlined in the bylaw show how difficult a challenge it is.

The bylaw as proposed doesn’t include bags used for such things as nails and bolts, frozen foods, flowers, prescription drugs, laundered clothing and several other items.

Among them are bulk items like fruit and vegetables. Those flimsy bags, which we pull down and tear off from rolls in the produce department, account for a lot of the non-recyclable plastics we carry home.

But how would we eliminate those bags and still avoid bacterial contamination? Very few jurisdictions are even attempting it. Hopefully, reusable produce bags will come into vogue.

But what about another much-used and heavily promoted plastic bag, one not mentioned in the bylaw? The doggie-poop bag has become accepted as a necessity. Shame on the dog owner who doesn’t carry a plastic doggie bag in his or her pocket when out walking with Fido.

Those bags are biodegradable, aren’t they? Sadly, their degree of biodegradability has come into scientific question. Experts say some claims are exaggerated, others need conditions to be just right.

Will they and produce bags eventually be banned along with the rest? Maybe. Or maybe we’ll develop better alternatives.

Getting rid of plastic grocery carry-out bags is a good start. But it’s only a start.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

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About Mel Rothenburger (6740 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

5 Comments on EDITORIAL – What about those produce bags and doggie-poop bags?

  1. Jennie Stadnichuk // July 9, 2019 at 12:45 AM // Reply

    John Noakes: I don’t agree that the “appearance that something is being done is paramount”. Yes, easier to supply/use brown paper carry-out bags than it is to do the same for the very wet produce. Of course meat would still be packaged on the dreaded styrofoam trays with blister wrap plastic holding it all together. But, isn’t necessity the power behind invention? There once were thick paper trays for meat, they did however leak despite a protector that was used. But, if challenged, there soon will be alternatives created for the Supermarkets. We can always choose to shop local: Farmers Market, our several privately owned/operated butcher shops, etc. And, there are at least three great Produce shops on both North & South shores.

  2. John Noakes // July 8, 2019 at 5:27 PM // Reply

    Mel, you are confusing the issue. Some might call it muddying the water.
    If we all start carrying paper grocery bags again, what does it matter if there are 4 clear plastic bags inside which are holding produce and keeping meat from dripping onto the other groceries?
    Appearance that something is being done is paramount.
    Try emailing a few photos of a mysterious dark line on a roadway along with photos of dark, oily-looking Q-tips. The silence is deafening.

    • Jennie Stadnichuk // July 9, 2019 at 12:34 AM // Reply

      What did we use to carry groceries in prior to plastic grocery bags? I remember during the 1970’s shopping @ the Seymour St. Safeway store and having my purchases packed into large brown bags. In fact I just found several of them neatly folded stored for reuse as garbage bags. I am unsure of the time period, but our veggies were probably placed into smaller brown bags. If you bought your fresh meat at a butcher’s it would be wrapped in waxed butcher wrap which you used to line the bottom of your garbage pail’s bag at home. Today I do NOT place my kitchen garbage into a plastic bag. I put all veggie/fruit waste into my under the sink plastic bucket c/w lid (to be buried in my garden composter). All meat scraps/bones are placed into a crinkly plastic formerly salad bag & frozen until the City designated pick-up day. Other stuff that becomes garbage (is not wet or stinky) is dumped into the City Garbage Cart loose. No I do not “gift-wrap” anything in plastic. I take pre-purchased cloth bags when I shop, dutifully empty and fold them into a box in the car. No fuss, no muss. I don’t think placing produce into paper bags would work now-a-days as it is wet from the constant water sprayed on it for freshness. Some of us have been sewing very thin left-over fabric into smaller bags (ie 12×14″ sizes) and sharing them with friends. It would be nice if the stores provided them to us initially – they’re simple to wash as needed. And what’s the fear of microbial contamination? We’d be using only our own bags -not sharing used ones with others. Same idea as the large cloth carry-out bags!

      • John Noakes // July 10, 2019 at 6:49 AM //

        We shopped for groceries with our mother and that would have been back in the late fifties through the early sixties.
        The meat was bought as an order placed directly to the butcher on staff. He wrapped the meat in the “freezer paper” of the day with a waxed side and a plain side on which he wrote what was inside.

        We are poisoning our planet and ourselves. The convenience of plastic we now find is being replaced by the horror of dead ocean creatures being found with a gut full of discarded plastic bags. Were these bags presumed to have been recycled properly but ended up being washed into the ocean by a river somewhere other than in Canada?

        Dare we buy an apple that has a scab on it or a nectarine that is bruised? We wash the fruit and vegetables thoroughly to remove all traces of pesticides and artificial preservatives. Those are just some of the dirty little secrets we never need to know.

        We really shouldn’t need to be spoon fed by politicians to act. Sadly, legislation is made by politicians. Some politicians of the past have been bought into office by donations from outfits that did not have the public interest at heart.

        Where do you see our future going? Will the predictions of people like Nostradamus or John who wrote from Patmos come true?

  3. A long time ago council was debating the issue of recycling. Fast forward a whole bunch and now we have recycling city-wise. Was it a major environmental achievements? Are we truly better off because of it? It turns out the great majority of recycled plastic (perhaps even other materials too) ends up in a dump somewhere. I guess it is good to stay busy but as far as real achievements goes, it is a whole different game.

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