Almost nine out of Ten Avalon Peninsula Shoppers use Single-use Plastic Bags to Carry their Groceries
On World Cleanup Day, which took place on September 15th, our group conducted a visual survey of plastic bag use outside 20 supermarkets on the Avalon Peninsula. Of 1509 customers seen leaving Dominion, Sobeys and Coleman stores, just 12% of customers with groceries had only reusable bags, while another 4% used a combination of plastic and reusable bags. Around 84% of customers used only single-use plastic bags.
So, who were those 12 percent of customers committed to using only reusable bags? While categorizing these customers according to age is a subjective evaluation, the Council group did note some differences.
The response from government has so far been disappointing. In a 2018 June 13th interview with CBC, Andrew Parsons, Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Environment refused to put a time line on when or even if any legislation would be introduced. By contrast, PEI has now introduced legislation (with an 18 month staged introductory period) banning single-use plastic bags.
Surely there should be more of a sense of urgency in our province given that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians go through an estimated 120-150 million single-use plastic bags each year? Many people will say that they use their plastic bags more than once, but almost all of these bags will eventually end up in the landfill or be blown into trees where they will take hundreds of years to break down.
Our group believes the time to push for a ban on single-use plastic bags is now. To do that means facing three challenges - the habits of consumers, the complacency of government, and the opposition to a ban from powerful industry groups.
One of our next steps will be a survey asking people why they think grocery shoppers continue to use plastic bags. We also want to ask people if they support the ban on plastic bag use that Municipalities NL is pushing. But we need participants. This is not a survey that can be done outside of supermarkets.
You can help with this. If you belong to any kind of group, no matter how small, would you consider having fellow members fill in the survey. We want to have at least 1500 replies.
You can contact us for more details at firstname.lastname@example.org