WINDSOR, N.S. – As the Haifax Regional Municipality prepares to vote on whether or not to ban single-use plastic bags, municipalities across Nova Scotia are taking notice and may follow suit.
Single-use plastic bags remain in wide use across the province, especially in larger stores like grocery stores, but that may soon come to an end.
West Hants Warden Abraham Zebian said his council discussed the concept earlier in the year, but the issue was dropped without a conclusion - for now.
“It’s on everybody’s radar and I think there is support for it, we just haven’t considered the actual ban as a municipality yet,” Zebian said. “Council has written a letter to the province in support of a province-wide ban. Ban from municipality to municipality will confuse a lot of people.
“If the province is willing, I think you’d see full support from the council.”
Zebian also owns Joe’s Men's Wear in Windsor, which currently uses single-use bags, but he says he would switch to a different form of bag if a ban came into effect.
“We use them at this point, that’s the way it's always been, but if a ban were to come through, as a business owner I would respect the ban and we’d adapt to something different, something more sustainable,” he said. “If there’s a will there’s a way.”
“Plastic is horrible, it just doesn’t go away, so if we can do this it will add up little by little and lead to something big,” he added.
Tony Wood, owner of the Spoke & Note in Windsor, said he’s in favour of a single-use plastic bag ban and doesn’t use them in store.
“I’m lucky enough to be in an industry where most of our products leave the store in your arms, either a bike or a guitar and a lot of my customers bring their own bags already,” Wood said. “Tuners, picks and things like that are pretty tiny, so people usually just carry those out.”
“We avoid single-use bags both in business and at our home, we’re very pro-planet and being smart with where we use our plastic, try to keep it at the bare minimum.”
“Plastic is horrible, it just doesn’t go away, so if we can do this it will add up little by little and lead to something big." Warden Abraham Zebian
While councils across the province continue to discuss the possibility of banning the bags, some businesses have taken on the initiative themselves and have already removed them from their stores.
Value Village’s New Minas location is one such store and has been using brown paper bags – with a small fee charged per bag used – in lieu of plastic since this summer, according to store manager Reg Chitty.
He said the move “is a fantastic one” that lines up perfectly with the store’s mandates.
“One of our mandates is to recycle, reuse and repurpose, so this fits right in with what we’re all about,” he said. “It’s helping our local environment – many people also use the bags for their compost – and people seem to really like it, so it’s working out great.”
Colchester County is in the process of studying the issue as well, especially as their stockpile of stored plastics continues to grow, but there is currently no plan in place for an outright ban according to Mayor Christine Blair.
Sherry Martell, executive director of the Truro and Colchester Chamber of Commerce, said if the municipality ever was to consider implementing a ban, the chamber would want to be included in those discussions before a decision was made.
In the meantime, she said, the chamber supports and encourages any businesses that are trying to address the issue on their own.
“In general, we would encourage businesses to be environmental stewards and cut down where they can (on single-use plastics).”
Martell said the chamber also encourages the municipality to continue its efforts to find other environmentally friendly sources for disposal of the plastics.
“Understandably there are challenges,” she said.
With fies from Sara Ericsson and Harry Sullivan