It’s a familiar dilemma: you get to the front of the checkout line only to realize you forgot your reusable bag at home.
With single-use plastics being phased out in Canada, the days in which businesses can give you a plastic replacement are numbered.
“Even though you can argue that in the grand scheme of things it’s maybe a small change, I think it’s a good step in the right direction,” said Kathleen Sheppard, executive director of Environment Lethbridge, a non-profit that works to find ways to make Lethbridge more environmentally sustainable.
“We used to be one of the worst places in the country with the amount of garbage we were producing,” said Sheppard. “Those numbers have come down significantly, and that’s a really good success story for us in Lethbridge and we should be really proud.”
Cris Robinson, co-owner of health product store Purple Carrot, explains it’s all about reusing what you already have.
“We can buy all of these amazing things to reduce our plastic waste, but there are a lot of things that you can use in your own home,” said Robinson.
“Before there was saran wrap, before there were Ziplock baggies, we used cloth and we tied it in our lunch,” said Robinson. “Fabric is great, so if you have an old sheet at home, you have old material at home, cut that up and use that.”
Robinson also suggests bringing your own containers, whether it be a plastic tupperware or a clean Ketchup bottle, to a bulk re-filler to replenish things like dried goods and cleaning products.
Bill Ramp, president of the Lethbridge Sustainable Living Association, credits reducing waste as a lifestyle that can positively impact the future.
“This is just one small component in a very large wave, in a very large movement,” Ramp said. “Where people start taking more control of how they work, how they live, how they consume, how they preserve, how they waste, and how they don’t waste,” said Ramp.
And it’s not a matter of everyone embracing complete sustainability.
“There’s a zero-waste saying that: we don’t need one person doing zero waste perfectly, we need a million people doing it imperfectly,” said Robinson.
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