Single-use plastic bags should be left in the time before COVID-19. Photo by Crystal Schick, Yukon News

Single-use plastic bags should be left in the time before COVID-19. Photo by Crystal Schick, Yukon News

COLUMN: Single-use plastics have no place in post-pandemic world

We should be taking this opportunity to break old habits

Over the last year or so, I have been working hard to break my single-use plastic habit.

I’ve always felt that single-use plastics have not been good for myself or the planet. I’ve seen the straws stuck in sea turtles’ noses, the demonstrations about how much oil is used to make a plastic water bottle (it’s a lot) and the evidence that there will soon be more plastic than fish in the ocean.

My turning point was a chance to dive deep into the plastic recycling and disposal business where I found out just how hard it is to dispose of even the most environmentally-friendly plastics.

After digging through piles of compost to find perfectly fine “compostable” plastic cutlery, learning that our recycling program in B.C. only applies to packaging, and not the tonnes of other single-use plastics in our system and that even the most well-intentioned people get this plastic problem completely wrong, I have decided to phase the stuff out of my life completely.

Then a pandemic hit.

READ MORE: Province gives Saanich plastic bag ban bylaw the go-ahead

READ MORE: Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Suddenly, the bulk foods, fresh vegetables and refillable options that I relied on for this were unavailable to me. I couldn’t use my refillable cup at a coffee shop anymore. I could not bring my reusable bag to a grocery store, and bulk bins were out of the question. I resolved to do my best to reduce my plastic consumption, but to allow myself the occasional plastic wrapper or bin, as long as I recycled it. That led me to slide right back into my plastic habit, and now I am no better than I was over a year ago.

I have mixed feelings about the news that Comox Strathcona Waste Management delaying its campaign against single-use plastic bags. I can understand that plastic bags are a cheap, safe way to bring food home from the grocery store, but as the pandemic went on, more and more research has come out showing that refillable containers and bags are no more dangerous than single-use options, especially if they’re cleaned with soap and water between uses.

In June, a group of scientists from 10 countries published a statement outlining how reusable items can be used safely with basic hygiene in place.

Some grocery stores are allowing customers to bring in their own reusable bags, and all of the stores I have shopped at have a paper bag option and have throughout the pandemic.

This should be a time where we try new things so that as we adjust to life after the pandemic, we leave behind all of the problematic behaviours we have picked up over the years.

There are options in Campbell River and in nearby towns that allow people to do their shopping without having to use a plastic bag.

Based on this research, CWSM should feel comfortable with moving forward on its bag ban campaign.

Because as we recover from this crisis, we have to be working on fixing all of the other crises our world faces, especially the climate.

Marc Kitteringham is a Campbell River-based Vancouver Island journalist. For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Plastic Bag Ban

Just Posted

O.K. Industries is building a quarry next to Capital Regional District land, as shown in this map from the rezoning applicaiton. (Photo courtesy District of Highlands)
Millstream Quarry wins again in court against Highlands community’s appeal

Judges rule province not obligated to investigate climate change before issuing permit

Saanich Volunteer Services Society volunteers head out to deliver this week’s meals to local seniors. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
VIDEO: Weekly meal deliveries help brighten the day for Saanich seniors

Seniors are delivered nutritional meals by a group of volunteers every Wednesday

Cheyenne, six, Savannah, three, and Jeremiah Sinclair, 8, were out on walk with their mother on June 4 when they discovered the first of several hundred fish that died after bleach leaked into Reay Creek. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Spill in Sidney’s Reay Creek turns into ecological lesson for local children

Federal-provincial investigation ongoing into what appears to be a bleach spill

Kidspace, which took over the YMCA-YWCA childcare centre at Eagle Creek Village, plans to reopen the Y’s fitness centre as the Eagle Creek Athletic Club in September. (Photo courtesy of Kidpsace)
Former Y fitness centre in View Royal aims to reopen in September

Kidspace taking over both the gym and the childcare facility at Eagle Creek Village

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
VIDEO: Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

FILE - This July 6, 2017 file photo shows prescription drugs in a glass flask at the state crime lab in Taylorsville, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Contaminants in generic drugs may cause long-term harm to DNA: B.C. researcher

Scientist says findings suggest high volume overseas facilities require strict regulation

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., on April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Labour shortages, closed borders major obstacles to B.C. restaurant, tourism restarts

Industry expert says it won’t start to recover until international travellers can visit

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Most Read