Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Fewer Plastic Bags Is the Good News, But We Still Use Too Much Plastic Packaging

The consumption of plastic shopping bags has dropped dramatically in the last three years, but plastic product wraps haven't kept paced: that's the good news/bad news trumpeted Monday.

Radio-Canada reports that the Métro super market chain, which began charging for the disposable sacks in June 2009 has seen their consumption plummet by 80 per cent. And stroll around other markets these days and you'll see more people arriving with canvas carrier bags--sometimes lots and lots of them--than those without.

Nevertheless, the same Radio Can bulletin notes that Canadians still bring home 55 million plastic bags every week. In the larger solid waste picture, a reduction in plastic bags doesn't count for much either since they amount to only about 1 per cent of the trash that ends up at disposal sites, according to Eric Darier, spokesman for Greenpeace Québec. He adds that far too many products have two or three times more packaging than necessary, although the reduction in plastic bags use is a step in the right direction, he says.

Among the things I rescued before the house was cleared after the fire and everything sent for cleaning was my stash of 15 or so strudy cloth carrier bags. Can't get by without them any more, since not only are they more environmentally friendly, they don't tear when I carry things home from the store in the center city neighborhood where we're now living.


lagatta à montréal said...

François Cardinal in La Presse writes on it too: http://tinyurl.com/CardinalSac

Now I wish they could do something about the ridiculous plastic packaging so many vegetables come in - like the clamshells for "organic salads".

Well, there are several stores in the western Plateau - probably as many people where you are now shop at the famous Supermarché PA (not perfect in terms of plastic but they do have a good many naked vegetables) as people in eastern Outremont. There is the little Portuguese Intermarché on Mont-Royal east of St-Laurent, of course the big Provigo, many small independent shops on the Main....

Mary Soderstrom said...

PA has been one of the places I shopped before--only three block away from our house--but I hadn't done much shopping on the Plateau. The Portugue Intermarché has some good stuff, although their canned tomateos, orange juice, corn flakes etc. are pretty expensive when compared to the big Provigo or the Loblaws at te Parc Metro station. Think I'll have to take a trip there to stock up on those staples.

lagatta à montréal said...

I buy canned tomatoes when they are on sale; Intermarché does have good specials and a lot of "European" products. I often get tomatoes around here, of course (near Jean-Talon Market), as while Milano and Capitole are not cheap shops, they do have good bargains on Italian goods.

Of course you can't do that alone as you have to rebuild your entire pantry. I don't eat corn flakes(prefer porridge), nor do I often drink orange juice (I prefer to eat fruit, and always find good fruit either at PA or at JTM). Loblaws is expensive for fresh produce and doesn't have enough local stuff in season - the infamous California organic carrots in August, and yes I complained - but they are cheaper for bulk, staple goods.

Don't forget the DIRT CHEAP Segalls at the corner of St-Laurent and Duluth. I don't buy produce there - quality and cleanliness iffy - but great for staples and frozen food, including Portuguese fish. It is always packed with students, immigrant families and others seeking bargains.

kim said...

I've made a real effort to always carry a shopping bag with me and am constantly amazed at how automatic it still if for some merchants to package up a purchase in plastic before the transaction is complete - some even give a bit of attitude when you explain you don't need the bag. Still a ways to go to change behaviour.

And packaging – the consumer has to drive the change there – and that's a tough road because we are more often than not very removed from the source. All the more reason to support local vendors.