Kicked in the sack

Posted on June 1st, 2009 No comments. The post is really that bad, huh?

For the past three weeks my breakfast plans had to be put on hold because I had no tea. This was simply due to the fact that I had neglected to follow my own advice to write my shopping list while sober. Delicious, chocolate-covered snack foods always made it on there somehow, but not tea.

So it was a happy day today when I finally remembered to pick up a box at the local Metro. As I stood in line at the checkout I ran through the great conversation I would have with the cashier: “I see you bagged that tea quite expertly. Would you consider yourself a professional teabagger?”

Two things put a major damper on that:

First, the lady ringing in my box of Wagon Wheels and no-name English Breakfast Blend had a pretty rudimentary grasp of the language and it probably wouldn’t have made the splash I was looking for. It was intended for her benefit, after all; I already know how witty I am.

Second, she preempted me abruptly with, “For five cents each, would you like to buy bag, sir?”

That shrunk my enthusiasm down to embarrassing cold-water scrotum size, and it was all thanks to that new plastic bag bylaw that came into effect today. Retailers must now sell their bags to customers at a minimum of five cents a piece and at this time next year, no retailer will be able to carry bags that are non-biodegradable.


The Indian woman with the unlikely name of Linda stood there behind the counter blinking at me, waiting for a response. “I guess I’ll take one,” I replied, “but make sure to put the tea in professionally.” — DAMN IT! The whole paying-for-a-bag affair set me off kilter. In my displacement, I couldn’t quite put my finger on why this bothered me.

It’s not the concept of paying for bags that bothers me. The intent is to put less into landfills while still giving the option to people if they want them. I think that this is as far as the planning for this project went at city hall. Had they not been so eager to get out and hoist a few, they may have noticed a few byflaws in their bylaw (damn that’s witty!):

  • The money for each bag is collected and kept by the retailer to do with as they please. The bylaw recommends that this surplus money be put into community initiatives and such like. I’m sure you’ve already reached the same conclusion I have: yeah, right.
  • The five cent charge is the minimum. Retailers may charge as much as they want. Locals may be apt to punch the greedy store owner in the face, but tourists…
  • The Blue Box program recently started accepting plastic bags, presumably for the purposes of recycling. If this is not the case…ummm…why are we recycling again?
  • My plastic bags, the same ones I use to take excessive, non-biodegradable, non-recyclable packaging to the garbage bin in, don’t really seem like the worst offenders in the grand scheme of things. Could we charge industry for packing all those unnecessary layers in there? Maybe some compensation to the Ontario Health Plan for the benefit of all those who experience injury and suffering sustained while trying to open some of those horrible plastic packages!

Consider this:


Plastic bags can be very useful and I feel it’s fair to say that no one likes to see them flapping from trees. A nickel is not a terrible price to pay for a bag that you can reuse a few times if you are so inclined. Some of the detractors of the bylaw are trying to convince people that cloth bags are cesspools of bacteria and fungi. True, if you’re keen on keeping your bag in that warm, special, moist place. So hang it up on something for a couple of days. Not really a very good argument.

Besides, plastic bags aren’t the biggest problem. I don’t mind an initiative to reduce them as long as there’s an equal share of the responsibility on the manufacturing end. Our sacks are important and everyone must lend a helping hand to support them.

I know, that was terrible. I’m still traumatized from that cashier lady.

How much do you practice the three R's?

  • A lot cuz I'm pretty good at the reading but the rythmetic is tricky. (47%)
  • I beat my children mercilessly if they fail to properly sort plastics by resin code. (33%)
  • Three times a week and once on Sundays. (13%)
  • Everything goes in the trash. EVERYTHING. (7%)

Most readers say: A lot cuz I'm pretty good at the reading but the rythmetic is tricky.

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