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How To Stop Using Plastic Bags Effectively

I’m standing in the line up at the checkout in the grocery store and it dawns on me. I better put everything down and go home. Why?…I’d just forgotten my reusable shopping bags… again!  Annoyed I ask myself why do I keep forgetting these seemingly simple things?

The shopping bags were in the car at one point. I’d used them to pack the hoard of toys accumulated over time and they’re now tucked away at home. Even if they were in the car it’s too late because I’d completely forgot to bring them inside.

Consequently, I realize it’s an uphill battle to get them to where they need to be at the right time. Going to the grocery store can often be a spontaneous event. Most people besides those that make lists prefer to keep it that way.

The government must play a role to stop using plastic

Canadians use three billion plastic bags a year and the bags are used a grand total of twenty minutes. A truly troubling statistic considering it takes about a thousand years for one to break down. Yet, the Canadian Government has been slow to change the laws surrounding this controversial topic.

Furthermore, there are 161 cities in Canada and only two have adopted a law to reduce plastic bags. The Montreal Government banned single-use plastic bags from retailers with thousands of dollars in fines if they refused to comply. The Government of Victoria has also passed legislation to ban plastic bags. They will not allow retailers to hand out a paper bag unless the customer pays for it. This is a good start to stop using plastic bags but more needs to be done.

What can you do about it?

The Provincial or Federal Governments of Canada aren’t willing to enact legislation. So, we’ll need to act on our own accord to make changes sooner rather than later. There are two things a consumer can do now to stop using plastic bags now.

The first step to change and one of the best ways to stop using plastic bags is to not use them at all! Why bundle fruits and vegetables in a bag to separate them? Throw them in the cart and let them roll around together! Seriously for some people, this is the complete opposite of what they’re used to doing and change is good. Produce bags aren’t necessary because when we get home we just throw them all in the crisper together anyway.

Secondly, contact your local MLA today. Contact Us: British Columbia MLA Guide  These folks have their seats because of you! Let them hear consumer complaints, they work for us and we are their constituents. Pass on consumer sentiment to their office using the link above, copy and paste this template into an email and hit send. Easy Peasy

Sample Letter

Dear  (First name) (Last name)

As a proud B.C. resident and your constituent, one of my greatest concerns is the excessive use of non-biodegradable plastic in local grocery stores.  Controlling how plastic is disposed of is a problem and the government has taken strides to remedy trash through an extensive recycling program.

However, the global issue of plastics has increasingly become an extreme environmental issue and the government has the responsibility to take people’s efforts to the next level. Sorting plastics does not reduce the amount of plastic that is used unnecessarily on a daily basis.

If there is one place the government can make a change it is by banning single-use plastic in grocery stores. Over packaging and single-use plastics can be found in the following:

  • Roles of Plastic bags in the produce section
  • Cashier Plastic bags
  • Plastic packaging used for fruit and vegetables

Moreover, the Provincial Government has the ability to reduce the amount of single-use plastics in local grocery stores faster than muncipal governments. It’s time we take a stand against companies that use plastics to bag or cover produce. There are biodegradable options that should be used to implement current packaging practices.

Finally, guidelines must be established to limit plastic and encourage alternatives in mainstream packing and packaging. I strongly encourage you to remind Premier John Horgan the BC government has an obligation to be an environmental steward.

I look forward to your response.


(Insert name), (City/Town)


All grocery store retailers must make it easier by adopting a program that brings in attractive reusable bags. Some retailers already place them next to their check out stands making our decision to buy them simpler.

For instance, while doing some Shopping at the dollar store the cashier asked if I needed a bag… I glanced behind me and saw a nicely printed cotton bag and told the cashier, “No thanks I’ll take one of these.” I paid $6.00 for a trendy bag I don’t mind carrying around town.

Lastly, If grocery stores would give us an option at the check out counter it could make a difference. I’m sure the reason retailers don’t willingly change their policy on plastic shopping bags is because they’re afraid the consumers would shop at the competitor across the street because they’re handing out plastic bags…