North Shore resident Claire Hitchman (second from left) has started a petition to ban plastic single-use shopping bags in Nelson. Here she displays the multitude of other bags that could be used for shopping along with Diana Van Eyk (left)

Should Nelson ban plastic bags?

Petition has received support from Nelson Business Association .

If Fort McMurray can do it, why can’t we?

That’s the question that’s been bugging North Shore resident Claire Hitchman, who has started a petition to ban single-use plastic bags in Nelson. It’s not the type of thing she’s ever done before, but she figures it can’t be that hard, really.

Montreal’s already banned them. Edmonton’s thinking about it. When Toronto did it, Mayor Rob Ford called it “ludicrous and dangerous,” but countries like South Africa have been doing it for over a decade.

So what’s the hold up?

Well, somebody’s got to do something about it, and apparently that somebody is her. At times she feels daunted by the task, but she spoke to the Nelson Business Association to gain support and has enlisted the help of city councillor Anna Purcell.

“It seems like all we’re doing is conveniently hiding the evidence of using things we could well do without,” Hitchman says. “This isn’t a groundbreaking initiative. This is going on all over the world, in Bangladesh, India. We’re behind on this.”

Hitchman hopes the ban will become a “starting block for awareness” that will “drive us to have a better respect for what we use, how we use it, and the consequences of that.”

Purcell said she was pleased to help when Hitchman first approached her, and her research on the subject left her alarmed.

“I chatted with Benn Issitt, a Victoria city councillor, about this. They’ve got a ban in their legislative hopper, and we discussed this at length,” she said. “If the will is there, I think we could do this. Easily.”

The petition asserts that plastic “is filling our oceans, clogging our waterways and finding its way into the tissues and digestive tracts of animals around the world, even in the Kootenays.”

“Every piece of plastic we make exists forever, breaking into ever smaller pieces, but never actually degrading or decomposing We thrived without plastic grocery bags until a few decades ago we can do it again!”

Hitchman said the feedback she’s received on the initiative has been thoroughly positive and supportive.

“I have yet to encounter any negative comments about this, which makes it even more intriguing why this hasn’t taken place. I think it’s time for us to get together on this and do the right thing.”

Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. One million are used every minute.

“I would really urge anyone even mildly interested to go online and do some research online yourself. This is something we urgently have to do.”

The online petition, which currently has 175 signatures, can be found at bit.ly/shopping_bag_petition

 

 

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