North of South

Neil Godbout is managing editor of The Prince George Citizen.

Bravo to Prince George city council for its plans to work towards phasing out the use of plastic shopping bags.

Except for the convenience for shoppers and retailers, there is little reason to use them and plenty of easy alternatives.

For those of us old enough to remember, paper bags worked just fine and were just as sturdy as today’s thin plastic bags.

Many households have already switched to reusable bags, which are stronger than regular paper or plastic bags and can be used in numerous ways, not just for shopping but for lugging around everything from library books and baby supplies to work uniforms and gym clothes and shoes.

Yes, grocery shopping can be easily accomplished without bags, as anyone with a Costco card knows well.

Costco offers no bags of any kind to its customers (and only offers boxes when they are available) but seems to have no trouble attracting shoppers. Just like consumers learned to not smoke in stores, they’ll learn to bring reusable bags with them if they want to more easily carry away their purchases.

Some people won’t like it, of course. Why?

Because they will be slightly inconvenienced, which seems to be an increasingly unforgivable crime in modern society.

The true cost of plastic bags is something that consumers have been protected from for far too long.

The cost to transport tons of plastic bags every year to landfills. The cost of landfills filling up far too early with unnecessary plastic bags. The environmental costs of plastic bags, from the energy to make them and ship them to stores to the damage done when they don’t make it to landfills or recycling depots but instead end up in forests and waterways, damaging sensitive habitats and harming or killing the wildlife in those habitats.

All for the convenience of a plastic bag to carry a few items out of a store.

Getting rid of plastic bags shouldn’t be seen as a swipe against plastics in general. The modern world could not exist without the versatility of plastics.

They are rightly used everywhere, from technology and science to medicine and construction. In many cases, using plastics is a better environmental choice over the long term than using metal, wood or biodegradable products.

Single-use consumer plastic bags, however, have little use except for temporary convenience. Local governments bear the greatest costs when it comes to disposal and pollution from these bags so it is proper for Prince George city council to push for their elimination.

It’s a simple thing to do with so many positive benefits. Area residents and society at large will be better off when plastic shopping bags are relics from a less enlightened past.