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We can still do better

Have we started to use more single-use items?

Let's start off by admitting right now that we live in a world where things can be really confusing. Six months ago, I had finally built a routine where I almost always remembered to bring my reusable bags to the grocery store. 

As more and more stores were reducing their use of plastic grocery bags, I was really starting to enjoy being able to bring bags that could fit a lot of items. I could do a large grocery shopping trip and only make two trips from the vehicle to the house. It was convenient. And I felt like I was doing my part in reducing some waste.

Of course, we noticed that we were often searching for plastic bags in the house for chores, like cleaning kitty litter - but we were making due.

Then, the pandemic hit. There was confusion over wearing masks and not wearing masks, we had to remember to sanitize mulitple times a day, we learned to stay home with any and all symptoms - but not if they're pre-existing... maybe. Then, there were the resuable shopping bags.

At first, I was scared to even bring in my reusable bags. Then, I realized I could bring my bags to the store I shop at regularly, but I had to pack my own groceries. I was OK with this. There were a few sweaty and tiring shopping trips, as I juggled unpacking a cart and packing groceries all at once. 

Then, one day the cashier looked at me and smiled, and offered to pack my groceries for me. It was a good day.

I primarily shop at the same grocery store, but of course, often find myself at other businesses in town. When I'm unsure of the rules, I don't bring in my resuable bags. And, I sometimes feel like I've taken a step backwards in reducing waste. The bags I bring home often rip, and aren't even usable for the chores I used to use them for.

Then, last week the federal government announced it would be moving ahead with banning many single-use plastics by the end of 2021. So, here I am, once again confused. If some grocery stores don't want people bringing in reusable bags during the pandemic, then how will we move ahead with banning plastic bags?

Don't get me wrong, when the move toward banning single-use plastics was first announced a while back, I was entirely on board.

But, if people are wearing single-use gloves and discarding them in parking lots - are we simply fighting a losing battle? I believe there has been an increase in waste over the past six months, with more single-use items being used to lessen the risk of contamination. Our shopping habits have changed. I have personally used local curbside pick-up this spring, and my package was quite heavily wrapped in extra plastic.

Hopefully, by the end of 2021, the memory of the COVID-19 pandemic will be just that, a memory. But, it's hard to predict at this point. Regardless, I still believe we all have a responsibility to reduce our waste. A short drive down any provincial highway is all the proof we need, when looking at the trash in our ditches. We can all do better.