The City of Toronto recent ban on plastic (shopping) bag boldly opened the floodgates to Canada’s minor towns to its major cities that are still on the reflective mode on whether or not to adopt their respective version of banning plastic-bag use. For, while it is not the first Canadian town/city to embrace the ban, Toronto is Canada’s first major city that embraced it. To a Winnipegger, it then raises this obvious and clear-cut question: If a major business city like Toronto has adopted a plastic-bag ban, why can’t a minor business city like Winnipeg? Compound such question, of course, to this rudimentary question: If a town in Manitoba (Leaf Rapids) was the first-ever town in Canada to implement the ban, why has Toronto implemented it and Winnipeg (Manitoba’s main city) has not?
While the city government of Winnipeg has, time and again, explored and flirted with the idea of adopting a ban on the use of plastic bags, it seems to move the wheels of change slowly—if not in the wrong direction. It has been half a decade since Leaf Rapids implemented the ban and since the Winnipeg city council started debating on the idea.
If the roadblock to the implementation of the ban is the lack of sufficient reason, there is actually a plethora of reasons that would fairly justify the implementation.
1) Environmental cause – the implementation of the ban shall be Winnipeg’s noble share in the global initiative to reduce damage to the environment brought about by plastic litters. Also, it might encourage more people to use reusable bags instead of a non-biodegradable material.
2) Survey speaks – a recent survey by Angus Reid Poll suggests that majority of Canadians (including Winnipeggers) support the idea of banning the use of plastic bags.
3) Winnipeg can learn from other towns and/or cities – the city’s attempt to ban the use of plastic bags will not be an unprecedented in the world. The city can always learn from Toronto, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Mexico City.
4) The ban would reduce litter – at the very least, plastic bags litter city streets, get caught in tree branches, and floats in waterways. Concretely, it would do a little favor to the city’s Brady Road landfill as it would reduce the number of plastic bags escaping the landfill on windy days.
5) The recycling department does not accept plastic bags – the recycling department currently classifies plastic bag as “unrecyclable.” Hence, plastic bags are most likely dumped on metal dumpsters along with a variety of wastes.
6) Retail stores are prepared for the ban – most Winnipeg groceries and retail stores do not dole out plastic bag mechanically; cashiers give it out with a price or withdraw the offer if the customer refuses it.
7) Winnipeggers can save money – consumers can save their 5 cents by not buying a plastic bag. The 5 cents saved can be used to purchase reusable shopping bags, instead.
8) Matter of practice – some grocery and retail-store goers have been doing a “no-recourse-to-plastic-bag” practice, it is not entirely strange to non-practitioners and the latter can, at any way and rate, learn from the former.
9) In consonance with the city’s distribution of blue and black bins – the ban will encourage Winnipeggers how to be responsible with their own garbage as the incoming garbage disposal program will easily identify violators.
10) The ban shall be implemented gradually – the ban shall be achieved gradually. It would allow retailers, consumers, and politicians to gradually adopt its implementation. This is in consonance with the provincial government’s goal of reducing the supply and use of plastic bags by 50% in 2015.
While it is not a major and urgent goal, the implementation of the ban will surely add to city’s reputation as being an environmental advocate and as a city striving for a cleaner community. It will be known on record books that Winnipeg is among the few Canadian cities that made a “good difference.”
Of course, it would give a good reputation to Winnipeggers—if it could be done.
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