Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Aurora not Right Place for Clear Bags, My Opinion

Response to: Letter to the Editor, Take another look at clear bags, says clear bag proponent, November 25, 2015. As the time passes, the clear garbage bags program makes less and less sense. By introducing changes to the garbage by-law where garbage-bag-limit is going to be 2 free bags at the curbside ($2/additional bag), residents may potentially think twice when sorting their garbage and disposing through proper channels like recycling, composting or visiting hazardous waste facilities.

With change to the Town’s garbage by-law I would encourage the Town of Aurora to do more along this change, to encourage our residents via more environmental reminders; simple as, letting people know over and over again that batteries and grass clippings do not belong in the black garbage bag. That the heavily soiled pizza box cannot be recycled and along the way don’t forget to explain why. I actually enjoyed reading temporary informative ads on the Town’s Weekly Board in the Auroran in the past. The ones when clear bags program was going to be implemented. Once the clear garbage bag program was voted down the ads mysteriously disappeared from the Weekly Board.

I am kind of surprised that the VisionQuest Environmental still pushing for the clear bag program as per recent Letter to the Editor. I have no doubt that the program works and been proven in Markham as claimed. But I have a personal doubt. First Aurora is not Markham. Second, in the long run the program itself is unsustainable system and it is bound potentially to fail on the social responsibility component. Why? Believe or not, if you don’t know the process how things are made or how recycling process works; material knowledge or consequences of heavy chemicals in the ground or in the incinerator; sorting garbage is just another ‘good’ sorting habit. So if that ‘why to recycle this and not that’ is not well understood by residents, then some will find a way to divert hazardous materials somewhere else but proper disposal place. Nature usually is the first to suffer. I know that the program will come with educational component after all, but that education does not starts with just clear bags. Habits without knowledge will be eventually broken.

The implementation of the clear bag program will also cost taxpayers money.

Now that we hear a lot of talks about reducing carbon foot print and the clear bag has had an effect, it would be more environmentally friendly for the manufacturers and retailers to take direct initiative and phase out black garbage bags all together from the stores. Sell clear bags only in the stores and have the Town staff create more environmental awareness. Remember, environmental awareness does not start with clear bags and does not end with clear bags.

VisionQuest Environmental wrote: “The illusion of overwhelming opposition is easily misconstrued by a few letters to the editor of the local paper(s) while the vast majority remain silent. Whether this silence is based on an indifference, acceptance or trust in others to speak for them only you (the reader) truly knows.

I am not sure how to take this comment in from VisionQuest by I will reply. Dear Reader those who wrote letters to the editor had a very valid reason to oppose the program. Those who opposed – they contemplated, they reasoned, they researched and then opposed. In my opinion, in the true socially responsible environment, clear bag program doesn’t really work; it’s only an illusion, it’s a policing program, and as well is also a burden on taxpayers. If we were to eliminate the garbage bags all together that will be a different story.

Let’s not forget also why eye brows were raised when project was presented. The VisionQuest and the Town were changing rules on the fly to quite the squeaky wheel, the privacy issue specifically. If I recall on the end the program was going to allow few opaque bags inside the clear bag, which solely took away the purpose of the transparency.

The Town already spent 15K in preparation for the program that never took off, and I am not ready to spend more. Even though Town claims savings in garbage collection (less weight), our household will contribute zero savings. Often we have only one bag of garbage per month and even then it is not full. And never know may be most of Auroran’s are socially responsible just like our household and are doing everything to divert garbage responsibly. Perhaps the real issue is that we are consuming too much and lot of things, for example cannot be recycled. Since not enough data was ever collected from Aurora garbage disposal about Auroran’s diversion habits, VisionQuest is suspicious of those habits. Perhaps, it is the right time now for clear bags to be sold in stores. Phase out black garbage bags; otherwise Aurora is not the right place for clear bag program, in my opinion of course.

Anna Lozyk Romeo
Aurora, ON

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