Life would be so much easier if we’d taken a detour a couple of million years ago and wandered down the evolutionary path followed by marsupials for just a little while. Long enough to develop a pouch instead of a paunch.
But we didn’t.
Nor did we swim with the octopi long enough for our gene sequence to embrace the very useful idea of forcing us to sprout more than two arms.
And I don’t even want to think about where we made a wrong turn and lost the prehensile tails enjoyed by other of our primate ancestors.
Two hands, no pouch, no tail. Is it any wonder prehistoric homo sapiens developed a natural affinity toward bags? How else to carry the stuff of life?
As we grew smarter — stick with the assumption here; we’ll get to the moral judgements later — the stuff of life proliferated at a dizzying rate until, for many of us, hardly a day goes by during which we don’t accumulate something. Often as not, we bring it home in a bag.
Bags have evolved as well. No longer do we lug our stuff back to the cave in animal skins, blowfish lungs, beaten and woven cedar pouches and baskets or clay jugs balanced gracefully on our heads.
Paper or plastic?
Increasingly, at least on this side of the border, the choice is plastic or plastic. I can’t remember the last time I was offered paper. Not that I’d take it anyway. Not after passing within the rank pall of the kraft paper plant in Fort Francis, Ontario and the shaved stubble of clearcut forests that have been pulped from sea to sea to sea.
I don’t know whether plastic bags are the lesser of those two evils but I do know the solution is not as simple as banning either of them. I’m sorry AWARE has chosen to march down that path; sorrier still to be opposing them in that undertaking.
There are numerous problems to overcome in adopting the simplistic — and possibly unrealistic — position that plastic shopping bags should be banned from our happy resort municipality. For starters, it violates Whistler’s equivalent of the prime directive. It amply inconveniences tourists. Tourists are not going to pack cotton, hemp or other cloth shopping bags with them when they come on holiday… at least not in sufficient numbers to stock their little condo-away-from-home with the necessary goodies to put the happy in happy hour. They’re not going to schlep them along when they pop into one of our many retail outlets to make impulse purchases. They are going to need an alternative to get their stuff from store to storage and they aren’t going to want a consciousness-raising lecture with their purchase.