Plastic bags a small part of the garbage picture

The good burghers of Toronto, or at least the majority of city councilors, take a dim view of plastic shopping bags

The good burghers of Toronto, or at least the majority of city councilors, take a dim view of plastic shopping and voted last week to outlaw them in Canada’s largest city.

While civic leaders worthy of the votes of all those Torontonians, as well as $100,000 annual salaries, may know a thing or two, they could expand their horizons by spending time picking up the trash they are so concerned about.

Trail Rotarians have been doing just that since the fall. They have discovered that plastic bags are far from a major litter problem, at least in this city.

Along the highway this spring, trying to pick up the few plastics bags that had accumulated since October was like trying to gather dandelions gone to seed. The bags now in use crumble when you try to pick them up, leaving only a few wispy remnants behind.

These plastics bags hardly seem to be a litter problem that is going to bury us all.  However, there are concerns about the chemicals emitted during the production of the bags and on the environment as they break down.

The analyses of the “total footprint” of plastics, paper, and reusable bags are heavily dependent on how many times the various models are re-used before being tossed. Missing from all of the calculations is how much extra energy is consumed running back to your house or car to get the re-usable bags you have forgotten once again.

I suspect a per-bag charge, as Toronto has now and some national chains have implemented, is the way to go as this both cuts down on their use and doesn’t leave shoppers looking like comic jugglers when they forget their re-usables.

As for litter, the most common items found along our highways are fast food containers. It is astounding to contemplate the doltishness of people who, after their last schlurp of coffee or chomp on their burger (how do you eat a hamburger while driving?) insist on hurling from their vehicles. Fortunately, their numbers are quite small relative to the volume of traffic traveling the highways.

Another ubiquitous bit of trash are cigarette butts. Given our usual hot arid summers, it is surprising we don’t see more roadside brush fires like the one near Waneta Gardens last summer.

The most inexplicable item I came across during the Rotarians recent outing was a number of surgical-type gloves strewn along Highway 22 north of Tadanac. Is there a mobile proctology clinic serving hitchhikers and vagrants that I haven’t heard about?

The nicest moment was when a young man walked by, looking like he was on his way home to Rivervale or Oasis after a long night out in the big city. Although he was obviously the worse for wear and yearning for a place to lay his throbbing head, he took the time to smile and congratulate us on our efforts.

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It is great to hear that the Chamber of Commerce is starting up a weekly outdoor market today on the Esplanade, which will run every Friday from 10 a..m. to 2 p.m. It likely won’t be bursting with locally-grown foodstuffs since there isn’t much commercial food production in this area, but it is the kind of activity that is needed to build up traffic and add life to downtown.

Hopefully, the venture can attract enough home-based businesses and traveling vendors to make it an outing that locals will look forward to each week. What’s not to like about pawing the merchandise, kibitzing with vendors and chatting with other shoppers under a blazing blue West Kootenay summer sky (remember those) as the Columbia River flows by.

Just remember to bring your re-usable shopping bags and to throw your coffee cups in the trash bins.

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The little village that is without a name as far as Canada Post is concerned and is so small that even cyclists barely notice it as they fly down the hill from Rossland toward Trail celebrates its continued improbable existence this Saturday with Warfield Day.

It’s been 60 years since the community that probably shouldn’t be but proudly still is a separate municipality was incorporated, and longer yet since the settlement really got going with the building of the first Mickey Mouse houses in the late 1930s.

In a world where bigger is usually deemed to be better, Warfield is happily, cozily small and proud of it and doesn’t appear to be ready to disappear any time soon.

Raymond Masleck is a retired Trail Times reporter.