Grocery Co-op Leads Province on Plastic Problem

Sointula – On May 31, the Sointula Co-operative Store
Association became the first retailer in British Columbia to eliminate the
use of plastic bags for carrying groceries, a move they hope other retailers
will follow.

"We wanted to see less garbage going into
the landfill on our island, so we decided to eliminate the use of plastic
bags," said Michael Seaborn, one of the Co-op’s directors. "The initial
response from our customers has been overwhelmingly positive, so we are
encouraging other retailers to do the same thing. Consumers today are willing
to accept a slight reduction in convenience for the sake of a benefit to the
environment."

More than one billion tons of plastic has
been manufactured since it was developed 50 years ago, and scientists estimate
the time for plastic to biodegrade to be in the order of 100,000 years.

"There is already too much plastic in our
environment," says Seaborn. "If all retailers in Canada stopped using plastic
bags for carrying groceries it would significantly reduce the amount of plastic
going into our environment."

While paper bags will still be available at
a cost of 10 cents a bag, the Sointula Co-op is hoping most customers will
switch to reusable cloth bags, which only cost $1.50.

The village of Sointula is on Malcolm Island,
located between the north end of Vancouver Island and the mainland. Originally
settled by Finnish emigrants over 100 years ago, Sointula, with a population of
under 1,000, boasts a long history of independent thought, an emphasis on
self-reliance and a strong sense of community.

The Sointula Co-op is the oldest
operating co-operative in Canada and will turn 100 next year.