Plastic bag bans sure to spark great debate

Think globally, act locally.

Something we’ve all heard many times. But how often do we put it into practice?

Last week, Parksville council quashed a proposed bylaw that would have banned single-use plastic bags in the city.

The bans have become de rigueur in many other cities, creating controversy and confusion.

The general idea behind the bans is to be a part of the global effort to curb ocean pollution (as well as issues with local landfills, litter and more).

Coun Adam Fras, the sole member of council to support the proposal, said he believes the bans will spread across the country and the world. And he’s right.

But do we need the bans?

The short answer is sure, what’s the problem? The arguments against, however, also have plenty of merit and nuance, making it a fascinating issue.

“I have a real problem with city council getting involved in issues not pertaining to the city, as soon as you do this you’re opening up a can of worms… where does it stop?” said Mayor Ed Mayne.

“I think we have to be careful about special interest groups and I think these types of laws should come federally or provincially,” said Coun. Al Greir.

Coun. Doug O’Brien questioned whether single-use plastic bags are just that.

Coun. Mark Chandler said he believes the decision to use or not use a plastic bag at checkout should be up to the consumers.

All fair points.

There’s also the question of ‘wouldn’t anything we do in Parksville or even Canada be a drop in the bucket when other countries are polluting our oceans in every way?’

In the end, like most everything, we’re usually all about personal convenience, don’t often like change and really don’t like being told what we can and cannot do.

Many of us like the convenient plastic bags. We re-use them for work/school lunches, keeping our shoes dry and numerous other things. We also like our plastic straws, another common bone of contention.

In the end, change is hard. And it takes effort. Why should we recycle at all if (insert your favourite polluting country here) is soiling the planet all day, every day?

Because it’s the right thing to do.

We can get probably get by without the plastic bags. And the plastic straws. If it helps even a little bit, isn’t mild inconvenience a reasonable price to pay? If you care even a little bit about the future of the planet, does that somehow make you a special-interest goblin? No.

Think globally, act locally.

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