While the Resort Municipality of Whistler researches the possibility of banning or deterring the use of plastic bags in the resort, the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE) is moving the campaign along by taking steps to educate the public about the bag ban, and the issues surrounding plastic bags.
This week AWARE received a grant of over $7,200 from the Whistler-Blackcomb Environmental Fund for a plastic bag education campaign. Part of that money will go towards purchasing 3,000 reusable cloth bags for Whistler households, while educating local businesses and individuals on the benefits of a ban.
In June, Kiran Pal-Pross of AWARE and Tracey Saxby of Greener Footprints made a presentation to Whistler Council proposing a ban on plastic shopping bags. That proposal was referred to staff for further study.
According to environmental groups, plastic bags themselves are toxic, are manufactured in a process that generates toxins and greenhouse gases, and are a detriment to the environment and wildlife. They can take more than a thousand years to degrade, get eaten by animals, and can plug up natural waterways.
Plastic bags are also an eyesore, blowing into waterways and trees.
While biodegradable bags are available, they create a different set of problems through manufacturing and only degrade under specific circumstances. As an alternative, AWARE is advocating the use of reusable bags for groceries and shopping, for stores to use fewer bags or bags made of recycled and biodegradable materials like paper.
To get a handle on plastic bag use in Whistler, AWARE is asking people to fill in a survey at www.greenerfootrpints.com , as well as looking for volunteers to help with a survey of residents, visitors and businesses in August. If you want to help, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org by July 31 letting AWARE know when you can be available.
More information on plastic bag use is available on the Greener Footprints website.