Huntingdon has become the first Quebec municipality to ban plastic bags at check-out counters

The Huntingdon bylaw means no retail outlet can distribute plastic bags, no advertiser can deliver fliers in plastic bags and residents are not even supposed to line their garbage bins with green plastic bags.

So far the system is working well. Customers simply have to remember to bring their own paper bags. If they forget they can buy a reusable sack at the IGA for 99 cents. As a last resort, the store supplies paper bags, but reluctantly. So far the IGA has handed out more than 9,000 free reusable bags to its customers.

Does banning plastic shopping bags strike you as a good idea?

Should this ban be extended to the whole of the province?



  1. 1
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Banning plastic bags is a good start. A green garbage bags ban is more problematic unless you have composting bins available in every household. All these measures are efficient when used all toghether. One is better than nothing. However educating the general public is not a bylaw matter but a long tem project, easier done in small municipalities than in large towns, but do we have a choice? NO!

  2. 2
    Peter LeBlanc Says:

    Hi Paul, I would like to see a ban on plastic bags for groceries. I have a problem. What should I use to pick up my dogs pooh? I just can`t think of anything.

    Peter LeBlanc

  3. 3
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Poor Peter, you have all my sympathy. Of course there is always a little metal pail and then you bury the content and wash the pail. By the way, the content can be buried also. It makes a very good fertilizer and it is biodegradable. Do you have a backyard or a garden nearby?

  4. 4
    Timothy Says:

    Fine by me. When I lived in Italy during the 80s, I was surprised to discover that I was being charged for each plastic bag when I went to the grocery store. I started carrying one or two bags with me or did without. Most locals used cloth shopping bags.

  5. 5
    Chimera Says:

    I use cloth and other reusable bags that I carry with me everywhere. And I do find it fairly easy to recycle plastic bags, too — they get donated to the local thrift stores for reuse.

    I think some of the reaction to the problem of too much plastic in landfills is too hasty and too drastic. Yes, it’s a problem. The solution is to find other ways to deal with it, not ban it entirely.

    One such solution is bioplastic. Currently, it’s more expensive than the plastic now in common use, but the cost-per-unit of its production will decrease with higher production volume. And it breaks down completely.

    Plastic, like metal, can be recovered and converted into a different form of itself. Most of the plastic bags in use today by grocery stores are made from plastics recovered from other plastic items.

    There are actually bacteria that will eat the more common plastic. It’s a slower process than most people would like, but it exists.

    The most obvious solution is to convince people not to throw everything away as soon as its current mission has been completed. We now have « factories » that take old tires and turn them into shakes and shingles for housing. Why can’t we find some use for used plastic bags?

    No, I don’t think an outright ban is a good thing. It’s just one more annoying law that people can bitch about and find ways around, then snicker to themselves when they « get away with it. » Finding viable alternatives to thrown-away plastic — that’s where the solution lies.

    But that would take brains and effort. Most people, especially politicians looking for instant answers so they can add them to their cv and say, « Look what I did for you! » at election time, balk at using both. Especially at the same time.

  6. 6
    Barbara Says:

    We are charged here as well. When I use my nylon shopping bags, a nickel is deducted from my bill for each bag I use.

  7. 7
    Chimera Says:

    Barbara, what a good idea! People will always be more willing to comply with the carrot method of financial reward for good behavior than the stick method of punishment-by-law for bad behavior.

  8. 8
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Same here in Quebec. We get 0.05 cents for each cloth bag we use when going to the grocery. We get the same discount at the Société des alcools du québec stores. I often see people, including myself, in parking lots turning back to there cars to fetch the forgotten bags in the trunk. It was slow at the beginning but it is gaining in momentum…and it started in small green minded communities like Val-David, 2 800 souls where I used to live up to 2 years ago. I’ll bet they have the same thing in Tofino, B.C.

  9. 9
    Barbara Says:

    I am here in Quebec, Paul. 😉

  10. 10
    Alex Thomas Says:

    Yes, ban them. Without going into the detailed math, the cloth or faux-cloth bags make more sense all around. You might still use plastic bags for produce, or bulk items, but any reduction in the use of disposable plastic bags for carrying groceries or dry goods is a step in the right direction.
    Ban them. We’ll get used to living without them.
    My name is Alex Thomas. Like eating oatmeal, « it’s the right thing to do. » – Wilford Brimley.

  11. 11
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Well Darbara, along with Neil that makes at least three of us.

  12. 12
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Oups, my finger hit the wrong key, I meant to write Barbara.

  13. 13
    Tony Kondaks Says:


    Not to be picky, but I think you meant « 5 cents » and not « 0.05 cents » which means 1/20 of one cent.

  14. 14
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    You are right. I should have used the $ not « cents ».

  15. 15
    Joanne Nicholls Says:

    I am in Ontario. At some stores, plastic bags are not available. You are to bring your own or use the boxes that they would otherwise throw out. Those are the lower end stores. Some traditional grocery stores will give you some $ back for each bag that you bring in. Certainly no more than a nickel. So, it will take me over a year of consistently bringing the 3 bags that I purchased from the grocery store for$.99 to make my money back. But, that’s not the point, now, is it.

    My problem is that I have the best of intentions but I tend to forget my bags. Either I have brought them into the house to unload and forget to put them back into the car since I am carrying my (+ a small sherpa’s) load of crap to the car every morning OR they get into the car just fine and I am halfway around the grocery store before I rememeber that I forgot them in the car.

    So, if anyone has a solution for early senility…let me know.

    And besides, without the occasional forgetful trip to the grocery, what would I use to contain the vast amounts of kitty litter my little darlings seem to produce?

  16. 16
    Barbara Says:

    Joanne, it is just a matter of developping new habits. I purchased nylon bags which are foldable into small bundles that I can easily slip into my purse or coat pocket. I keep one with me in case I go to the grocery on the way home from work, etc. The others I pack into my purse when I do my weekly shopping. I find four nylon bags hold what eight plastic bags (or more when double-bagged) can hold. I bet you can purchase plastic bags to contain the kitty litter.
    When I lived in Japan, I noticed everyone carried a furoshiki, a decorative cloth with them. When you tie knots in them, they can be used to carry anything you purchase or want to bring from one place to another. They also packed fine, cotton handkerchieves (remember them?) with them to dry their hands in public washrooms.
    In Germany, years ago, women went to market more frequently than we do here, since their fridges were so much smaller. They used baskets to carry their purchases, a la Little Red Riding Hood. I hated mine because it snagged my stockings, but I still have it and use it to hold magazines. There are creative ways of reducing plastic bags, but it takes getting used to.

  17. 17
    Chimera Says:

    Another way around the problem of kitty litter is to use flushable litter. We used one called S’Wheat Scoop. We’ll never use the clay stuff again! Not only is is flushable, but it’s odor-free. Nary a nasal twitch. It’s made from wheat husks. Google the name and read about it. Then ask the pet store owners what they think of it (they will get feedback from their own customers).

    Furoshiki — what a great idea! I have done this on occasion (if I sometimes forget to carry a bag, I never forget to carry a bandana or handkerchief), but I didn’t know there was a name for it!

  18. 18
    Peter LeBlanc Says:

    Hi Paul, thanks for your suggestion about burying my dogs pooh. I do have back yard, however that may be practical in the summer. However there are thousands of dog owners here in Quebec and everywhere who dont have back yards. My thoughts are poop and scoop and flush it down the toilet. Anyone agree.

    Poor Peter

  19. 19
    ... Says:

    shatap bitch

  20. 20
    Dave Says:

    yes the should be banned
    but what about picking up my dogs dropping
    cause i cant use like paper bags

  21. 21
    Jenna Says:

    the government should start $ instead of cents for plastic bags
    dont you think Paul

  22. 22
    cool Says:

    u people suck

  23. 23
    cool Says:

    you guys talk shit and go to hell

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