My photo
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Elected as a Member of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly for the Constituency of Saanich South on May 12, 2009. New Democratic Opposition Critic for the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. Raised on Quadra Island and has an undergraduate degree from the University of British Columbia. Extensive track record as a community leader, advocate and environmental activist.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Life will go on after plastic bags banned

Written by Al Lubkowski - Saanich Resident January 3rd/2007

There is a growing legion of shoppers who are now boycotting plastic bags in favour of more environmentally friendly bags and bags that can be re-used. Good on them!

This phenomenon is a typical example of how residents like you and I can make a difference and in alliance with the private sector, show our regional and provincial governments who they need to follow.

For residents who believe the garbage pail liner and their way of life is being threatened, be reminded that there was life before plastic bags and there will be after, quite likely, a life more pleasant than before.

Many of us are beginning to realize there is a long-term price to be paid for the convenience of using plastic bags and their hydrocarbon progeny. Quite apart from the many problems these cause when dumped into our landfills, there is the even greater problem caused when these plastics are flushed, blown or otherwise disposed of into our rivers, lakes and oceans. Perhaps most important, it shows that many people the world over are now willing to take that extra step to pay that extra dollar and to change their life styles to ensure that there are no surprises in their children’s tap water or their fish ’n chips.

In B.C., a province where we pride ourselves on our beautiful surroundings and penchant for protecting this beauty, it is surprising that so little concerted action has been taken by local authorities and the province to reduce our incredible production of plastic waste. But as is often the case, this initiative must come from the grass roots, from people like Lana Popham and other community-minded individuals and associations who are spearheading this need to change.

While the issue of plastic versus biodegradable alternatives may not be as pressing as some others currently facing us, progress in phasing out plastic bags would be a symbolic step forward in weaning ourselves off the sacred cow of plastic – which in itself might be a good thing, providing us with the confidence to embark on more challenging environmental issues – of which there are many.

What you and I can do to help move this forward:

Make the change from plastic yourself. There are many alternatives to using plastic bags and more will certainly come. (even the District of Saanich for example has recently switched to biodegradable garbage bags for their in-house wastes).

Make your opinions known to politicians. The Capital Regional District will soon be involved in deciding whether to proceed with alternatives to plastic bags, if not to ban them outright. Saanich representatives who sit on the CRD Board and who will influence the vote on this issue are: Mayor Frank Leonard, councillors: Susan Brice, Judy Brownoff, Vic Derman and Lief Wergeland.

Come out and support phasing out plastic bags when this issue comes to debate and vote at the municipal or regional levels of government.

Al Lubkowski