If you went to grade school in the 1980s like I did, you were likely taught the 3Rs of waste reduction: reduce, reuse, recycle.
The order of these words are important. First you reduce, then reuse, then the least ideal solution is recycling.
I’ve been to Fort McMurray, where plastic bags have been banned for a few years. Many people buy the reusable bags most times they go shopping, simply because they didn’t expect to buy so much, or didn’t have time to go home to retrieve their bags first. (If they did go home first, the carbon footprint of simply driving there to pick up the bags would be incredibly larger than simply wasting some disposable grocery bags.)
Having dozens of reusable bags which end up being thrown out also has a much larger impact then disposable shopping bags. In Nelson, tourists would also end up buying reusable bags they didn’t need.
Another factor to this multi-faceted issue is that many people use plastic shopping bags as garbage bags, or to pick up their dog’s waste. Banning plastic bags would require these people to buy single use bags for these purposes.
A small charge for each disposable shopping bag, say five cents, would help people remember to use their reusable shopping bags, unless the person wanted the plastic bags to reuse them for waste.
John Hordyk, Nelson