Rhino's Ramblings: The Age Of Plastic


Robert Thomas

It's something most of us never think of but it's fast becoming one of the major environmental issues out there: its plastic.

And no, it's not the stuff most of us carry in our wallets, where we run up our bills like some episode of the Flintstones where Wilma and Betty grab Fred and Barney's wallets as they run out of the cave shouting "CHARGE IT!!!!"  It's not something we can easily fix, like Fred, and scream "TAKE IT BACK!!! TAKE IT BACK!!'"

It doesn't work that way. It's actually something fairly serious yet to be featured in an episode of The Simpsons.

Whether you have heard it or not, we are right now hitting a news cycle where something we all take for granted is fast becoming public enemy number one.

Sadly, that wonder product which helped revolutionize our lives is now on the Most Wanted List. And Public Enemy Number One in the City of Moose Jaw is the single-use plastic bag.

You know those bags you use to haul all of those groceries home in? Something many stores are already making a public statement on by charging a five cent environmental fee and then quickly remitting it into their own bank accounts.

A veritable money making scam if I ever saw one, all wrapped up in environmental stewardship and ecological responsibility. Take that Superstore! I would love to say "a penny for your thoughts" but in the same vein that was unceremoniously and without just cause fired out the door. But I digress.

In Moose Jaw, enter the Youth Advisory Committee and their campaign to make it illegal for local stores to give you a single-use plastic bag.

What? You might ask, shaking your head and laughing. Yes, it's true, we may be seeing the end of that little convenience we all take for granted.

But it's not just single-use plastic bags which are making headlines right now but plastic straws are on their way out as well.


The European Union is about to ban them. The City of Malibu just started issuing $500 fines for using them and even Vancouver headquartered A&W is phasing them out across the entire chain. Believe it or not anti-pipeline Greenpeace is in the forefront in the fight to eliminate these plastic pop pipelines.

Yes, the product we once complained they made cheap stuff out of, which then rapidly became an accepted indispensable part of our lives is once again on the outs.

Everywhere plastic, especially the disposable type, is tied to our life of convenience.

From the second we get up and brush our teeth we are subjected to it. What? Yes, even toothpaste has micro beads of plastic in it to help polish your teeth. It's not just fine sands doing the job. And yes those micro beads of plastic are an environmental toxin, the last I checked the federal government was set to ban.

But back to Moose Jaw and those single-use plastic bags? What's being done is the Youth Advisory Committee has some powerful backers behind them on this none less than Mayor Frasier Tolmie and Councillor Crystal Froese and there is now a committee looking into it.

The kids did it with City Manager Jim Puffalt involved, along with the Youth, as well as the Chamber of Commerce, the Environmental Advisory Committee and the stores using them.

This is serious and despite one of the seniors I know saying "phooey" this one "is lit" in modern speak. Or whatever today's teenagers say as they skateboard way too fast down Main Street to be fully intelligible for my senior friends.

But this plastic bag issue already has a few people bringing up the fact many of the reusable bags are themselves environmentally worse than the single-use bags. Additionally, others mention the dog hairs and other bacteria inhabiting many fabric bags as a health concern.

But really, when you look at the high chain-link fence surrounding the landfill, boulevards, streets and your hedge, it's obvious something needs to be done about single use plastic bags.

Just look at it this way: if you tied a plastic bag to a tree it would take as long as replacing the sidewalk in front of your home or 200 plus years for it to break down.

That fact, in itself, might convince you the youth are onto something here. Is it going to cost some money to achieve? Of course; but maybe some of those corporations profiting off of those nickel per bag environmental fees might just contribute to the cause. Any takers?

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