Plastic baggage carries high costs

By Noah Miller

Calgary shoppers continue to express their agitation and anger over recent efforts by retailers of every shape and size to charge for plastic bags in an attempt to curb the 900 million bags dished out to Albertans annually.

Few Calgarians have to look further than their local store to witness a cashier informing a customer that they will now be charged for plastic bags met with an angry outburst that escalates to a middle-aged hissy fit. In many instances, an irritated customer pays the fee, grumbling, or walks out without purchasing anything to “prove a point.”

The frustration is– to some degree– understandable in that plastic bags used to be complimentary when purchasing a store’s products. They are furthermore cheap to produce and can serve to keep products protected. But what point are these people trying to prove by demanding the honouring of an outdated and environmentally damaging convention?

It is no secret that plastic bags require decades to break down into plastic dust, are made of non-renewable resources such as petroleum and contaminate the natural environment, threatening wildlife. Considering the long-term effects the true cost of a plastic bag extends well beyond five or 10 cents.

Sure, one could argue that it’s up to the companies to invest in biodegradable bags, that they owe it to their loyal customers to produce a neat and free package that works for everyone. Another option would be for companies to reward people for not using plastic through an incentive program such as giving people a nickel off their groceries for bringing their own bags. By far the simplest of solutions would be for each and every individual to take responsibility for carrying their own reusable bag that will probably cost them– and the environment– less in the long run.

Lastly, it seems lost on a lot of people that the average Jon or Jane at the cash register is simply relaying a company’s policy and is not on an executive board, making direction-changing decisions. The solution is simple: get a reusable bag and stop taking out your frustrations on people who have little to no control over these policies. The only thing this action proves is ignorance and immaturity.

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