Today is Earth day, and it was announced that Loblaws will start charging for plastic bags. It's in a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, and framed as an environment-enhancing way of keeping bags out of landfills and from "blowing around the neighbourhood."
Listen, I do everything I can to not be a dick to the earth. My carbon footprint is so low that one day, people will be digging way down at the center of the earth, and they'll be like "how did footprints get here? They are so low." I reduce, reuse, and recycle.
But the thing with plastic bags is, does anyone actually throw them away? Everyone I know keeps them around for reusing them. There are entire kitchen accessories for holding bags. Personally, I need a constant supply of bags to use as garbage bags, to transport stuff around, to shelter stuff from rain, to pick up dog shit, etc. I don't think I've ever just thrown a plastic bag in the garbage. When my supply is high I'll bring a reusable bag to the store, but otherwise I'll take advantage of the free bags they provide. Sometimes I feel like an ass doing it, but hey, if everyone around me is loading a box of single-use Glad garbage bags into their fancy reusable canvas bag, then I'm not the ass.
It seems to me that charging for bags will only accomplish two things: 1) It will discourage reusing plastic bags, since people will now (for either psychological or financial reasons) be more apt to buy bags separately then only use them once; and 2) It will make Loblaws and Glad a lot of extra money.
And that's, sadly, what much of the environmental "movement" is about. It's a marketing gimmick designed to fool consumers into paying more money for the same products and being happy to do so. Certainly we should be doing everything we can to preserve this lovely planet, but unfortunately doing that now requires sifting through a lot of bullshit. The backlash this causes will do more harm than good. Being green should be accomplished by listening to common sense and peer-reviewed research, not people who are trying to sell you stuff.