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What’s next after plastic?

At Farm Boy the other day, the woman in front of me was getting her purchases put into paper bags and the women behind me had brought along her own cloth bags.  Now more than ever we are seeing conscious effort not to use on-time use plastic bags.  But we have a long way to go, or a long way to go back.

The use of paper bags harkens back to the sixties and seventies when paper bags were everywhere until the rush to use plastic took over.  And the bring your own bag is nothing new either and harkens back to the days in the 1930s (and probably well before) and 40‘s and even 50s when using and reusing cardboard boxes was popular, not taking a bag for a few items was common, and bringing your own bag to shop was also commonplace, at least in the smaller neighbourhood stores.

Return to paper

We just seemed to get out of the habit of bringing our own bags and then with the push to paper bags and then the plastics surge, it seemed as if we were on track to always use plastics.  Until now.

Reducing and even eliminating the use of the plastic bag is commendable and desirable.  But there are certain practicalities to consider.

  • We aren’t all ready with our own cloth bags (or other) each time we stop by a store to do the shopping.  Sometimes we forget and sometimes the purchase is unplanned.  Is that likely to change?  We are after all, busy. 
  • The use of paper is an alternative, but not always practical, particularly in wet weather, or if you are lugging something heavy like canned good, or glass bottles.

Store will have to provide some sort of bag to enable customers to get their fruits, vegetables and other groceries home. And what about meat?  It is best to keep it segregated from the rest of the pack. At least if they want to stay in business.

There are several suppliers ready and waiting with their products to supply the food store chains for their customers.

One such company is One Earth, according to the marketing company Cision, are ready to be a supplier of choice:  Compostable Bags Are Now Available to All Retailers in Canada As  A Replacement for Single-Use Plastic Bags.

At what cost you might ask?  Just how much will it add to the bill that every week seems to creep up and up with fewer items being purchased?

Will Canadians accept such increases at the supermarket?

Perhaps, given it is for the good of the planet.  But I suspect that supermarkets will not be willing to go whole-hog to try it out.  The grocery business, as all business is ruthless and consumers do not like to be the ones to be made to pay for the extras, particularly if they are not given a choice. 

One popular paper type is kraft paper.  This product is said to contain fewer chemicals used during processing and is 100% biodegradable.  There are many companies that use kraft paper in their product lines.  Snelling is a 100 year-old Ottawa Company that produces a long line of green products.

The companies are out there, just  like the two mentioned above, producing and selling paper products and compostable plastics, and creating new and innovative products to help reduce our reliance on one-time plastic use.  However, usage at the grocery store may take longer to put in practice.