Archive for June 8th, 2012

Blame the bags?

- June 8th, 2012

Councillor David Shiner

Councillor David Shiner surprised a lot of people this week when he moved to ban plastic shopping bags in Toronto.

The veteran councillor – who once worked as a grocery store bag boy as a teenager – got a majority of councillors Wednesday to drag Hogtown into becoming the first major Canadian city to ban plastic bags (story here).

And while city legal staff have yet to weigh in on the ban’s legality (story here) and Mayor Rob Ford is vows to fight it (story here), I can’t help but wonder if only stores hadn’t introduced “lousy” plastic bags after Toronto’s 5-cent bag tax came into effect the city might not have a ban.

Why not? Because Shiner wouldn’t hate the damn things so much.

Shiner made it crystal clear Thursday he feels the plastic bags Toronto stores offer “have become so much worse” since the 5-cent bag fee came into effect. Here’s what he told reporters a day after the bag ban vote:

“It’s a lousy bag, it rips, your groceries fall through the bottom of it, it doesn’t work right. It’s time to get something better at the checkout stands and this is the way to get retailers to work with us to do that.”

Later on in the scrum (which almost last 14 minutes), he continued to slam the plastic bag as “not a good product.”

“It doesn’t work right, it rips, it’s expensive and it leaves us an environmental hazard for generations to come. Let’s do something better.”

Then reporters asked Shiner if he himself uses plastic bags. He admits usually he brings his own bags but occasionally he buys a plastic one. Here’s Shiner on his experience with plastic bags:

“I don’t like it cause it rips. How many times have I put my cucumber in the bag and it has fallen on the floor? And they do me a ‘favour’ and give me a replacement. Or I put in a couple of jars of pasta sauce or some cans and I’m worried I won’t get to my car.”

“(Plastic bags) are so flimsy, they are so crumby, they’re not worth five cents, they’re not worth three cents, they’re not worth a penny.”

“As a matter of fact how many times do you see somebody stuff (a bag full) and it breaks as they get out to their car because it falls through those crumby bags. Let’s do the right thing and get the right container to use.”

Whether you agree with the bag ban or not, tell me you haven’t noticed plastic bags have been pretty crappy since we started paying a nickel for them.

So this January when you walk into a plastic bag-free store, just think if only retailers had ponied up for a plastic bag that could hold Shiner’s cucumber or his jars of pasta sauce the bag vote likely would have gone a lot differently.

If the bag vote is a lesson that no councillors’ vote is in the bag, maybe the bag ban is a lesson to retailers that customers like Shiner do have a (bag) breaking point.