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Retailers taking initiative with reusable shopping bags

When Kelly Messom was a little girl, her nickname was “David Suzuki.”


When Kelly Messom was a little girl, her nickname was “David Suzuki.” From an early age, she would run around the house turning off lights and unplugging appliances, all in an effort to save the planet.

After hearing on TV that the Quinpool Road Atlantic Superstore had gone bagless back in February, the lifelong environmentalist was inspired to help the entire city do the same.

“San Francisco, Calif., and Leaf Rapids, Man., have both banned plastic bags, and I think it’s something we could do here in Atlantic Canada,” said Messom, 21.

The Annapolis Valley resident has created an online petition to ban plastic bags in Atlantic Canada. She has already collected nearly 400 signatures from supporters across North America and Europe.

Messom is a big fan of the reusable bags sold at Atlantic Superstore and Sobeys, and thinks their replacement guarantee makes them a solid purchase.

But not everyone is as supportive of the grocery stores’ initiative. Many people rely on those plastic bags for disposing of dirty diapers, cleaning out their cat’s litter box, scooping dog poop and carrying their lunch to work.

“Whenever there’s change, there’s always a bit of backlash because people have gotten used to a certain behaviour,” said Carrie Riddell, special events co-ordinator at Clean Nova Scotia.

Atlantic Superstore on Quinpool Road stopped using disposable bags on Feb. 21, becoming the fourth bagless Loblaws location in Canada to do so. While the Quinpool Road Superstore is currently the only location to have banned plastic bags, more stores are following its green lead.

In early April, the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation announced it would stop using plastic shopping bags by fall. Until it goes completely bagless, it will be using new plastic bags made from 40 per cent recycled material, and paper bags made from 100 per cent recycled material.

The NSLC introduced a new reusable bag with special compartments for bottles and cans that sells for $1.49. During the month of April, customers will get the bag for free if they purchase at least three bottles of wine.

P’Lovers, the cosy environmental mecca in Park Lane Mall, sells reusable bags and will donate five cents to an environmental cause every time a customer refuses a plastic bag. Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), located on Granville Street, does the same.

Heather McKibbon, outreach co-ordinator with the Ecology Action Centre, says more and more Nova Scotians are realizing the negative effects of plastic bags and changing their ways.

“It’s great to see business making the move without the government forcing them,” McKibbon said. “And it’s great to see people looking outside the box and realizing that there are always alternatives.”