Thursday, 29 November 2012

Canada’s Largest City is Full of – Well – You Know

As most of the major urban centres across the globe embrace environmental policies, Canada’s largest city of Toronto appears not too.

Earlier this month, they paved over bike lanes on a major downtown street, to allow more room for gas guzzling cars, taking away space from environmentally-friendly clean pedal-powered cyclists.

Then yesterday, they reversed their decision banning the sale of single use plastic bags, after pressure from retailers claiming it would kill them.

Cry me a river – retailers in Toronto and many of the surrounding suburbs already charge five-cents for plastic bags, even though the City of Toronto removed that green by-law this past summer. Many retailers in – and for some reason out of Toronto – still charge five-cents if you want to carry home the stuff you just paid for.

Actually, charging for plastic bags is a good idea. It encourages people to bring their own reusable cloth bags when shopping. However, retailers shouldn't be allowed to profit from a green initiative – those funds should be put back into city programs specifically for improving our environment.

But the ultimate issue which Toronto Council backed away from favouring business over the environment is the outright ban on plastic bags in the first place.

Plastic – a chemical composition of fibres created from filthy petrochemicals – takes years to decompose, and when it does, it leaves the chemical residue in it’s wake, causing further pollution. Even biodegradable plastics leave this chemical residue.

An economical and environmentally-friendly alternative is to bring your own cloth bags – which a ban on plastic encourages.

It also encourages retailers to think of alternatives for packaging their products, which is something the suits and ties that run retail just don’t do enough of.

Although we’re a far more environmentally aware society, we still are very much a disposable one. From fast-food containers, to all the stuff we buy wrapped in layers of plastic, paper, cardboard and Styrofoam.

If manufacturers, retailers and anyone else selling goods gave more thought to how their customers will carry their products upon purchase, we’d all be better off.
We want the stuff we buy to be clean and unbroken, and expect a method of getting it from store shelf to home or business in it’s original clean and unbroken state. But we don’t need all the packaging materials most things are crammed with.

Packaging materials which eventually find their way to landfills in many instances, and recycling if we’re lucky.

Or worse – in the case of plastic bags – enjoying a lifespan buried beneath our homes, businesses and schools, leaching Cancer-causing chemicals into our drinking water, the Earth we grow our food, feed our livestock with and allow our kids to play on.

Banning plastic bags was a good idea Toronto.

Reversing that decision because you got cold feet will be felt by you, me, our children, their children their children’s kids and their kids, and countless other generations.

All because a small group of politicians in Canada’s largest city stopped thinking green. 

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