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LETTER: Grassroots action vital in reducing plastic bags waste

Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor
KENTVILLE, N.S. —

As someone who is passionate about the environment, I have noticed an increased concern about plastics and zeroing waste. I have read many articles written about the banning of plastic bags, each one providing different views and perspectives. However, all of the articles expressed a common theme of how critical grassroots action is when the government refuses to provide aid and action.

The first article published on Feb. 6, titled “Bag Ban: Group says communities don’t have to wait for governments to do something” was about how, over a year of inaction from the provincial government to ban plastic bags, a community group in Annapolis Royal took it upon themselves to eliminate plastic bags for a day and provide reusable bags for the customers to use instead. The church group provided the store with 300 reusable bags and, by the afternoon, they had been cleared out. The way the community acted and put matters into their own hands after being denied their appeal for a province-wide bag ban was admirable. What the community proved was that grassroots actions are the key to success and that one little transition can make a big change.

Speaking of real change, I also read an article that almost countered banning plastic bags, “Banning plastic bags is not the answer, says Acadia prof” was posted in December of 2018. This article appealed to me because it was written by one of my professors in the Environmental and Sustainability Studies program at Acadia University. He voiced how getting rid of single-use plastic bags is a step in the right direction, but not the only answer. He explains in the article how recycling and education can be the key to addressing the single-use plastic bag dilemma. He stated, “The solution is to encourage the use of reusable and recyclable plastic bags. These can be used many times and when they begin to break, they can be recycled,”. He also provided that in addition to the reusable, recyclable bags, there needs to be more of a government buy-in to support the cause, however, he also stated the importance of grassroots advocating and how the government cannot be the only people initiating change. A partnership would be good.

All in all, I am disappointed in the direction and course of action that the government is taking regarding banning plastic bags, as well with their lack of providing alternatives. Municipalities and individual consumers have had to take actions into their own hands to see any change occur. My question is: why hasn’t the government cared enough to make bag-less shopping easy? Or does it come down to the answers that Dr. Duke provided in his article around education and good recycling? Community efforts and actions are the stepping stones to creating impactful change, but imagine if the government stepped in and supported or enforced environmental initiatives. Imagine what a single-use plastic free Nova Scotia would be.

Katherine Waterbury

Kentville

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