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Life has gotten a lot smellier and messier lately for Toronto residents.
Not that we elicit any sympathy from the rest of the province or country, but you do have to feel a little bit for those of us who are suffering the ill effects of a city-wide garbage strike, and who are forced to haul stinking bags of waste to various temporary sites we would normally use for swimming and recreation.
Really, the sight of maggots squirming and oozing out of the food bins leaves nothing to be desired, but at this point I’d be willing to retrieve a few thousand dollars in taxes each year to dispose of the garbage myself, instead of paying someone nearly $30.00 an hour to take my garbage away and then toss my garbage bins mercilessly across the lawn.
My neighbour, who hand crushes his plastic water bottles into little flat disks, is already apoplectic at the waste and disorder.
Which brings me to the subject of plastic bags and the other reason some residents of Toronto are sorry for themselves.
(Believe me, there will be a link to transportation soon).
According to its official doctrine, the City of Toronto has a “goal of diverting 70% of waste from landfill”, and so, it plans to reduce the volume of plastic bags by making retailers charge customers five cents per plastic bag. This all began June 1.
On a normal day, I must carry at least four bags with me to the office: book bag, lunch bag, computer bag, and extra shoe bag.
But do you think I can remember to pack a couple of cloth carry out bags in my purse or jacket when heading to the store on an errand?
I often find myself stranded with at least $40 extra dollars of impulse or irresistible sale purchases, angry that I’m going to get gouged, (because that’s what this amounts to) for the cost of plastic bags.
I say that this is gouging because, while plastic bags are surely a large part of the problem, I think there are priority areas for “diverting waste from landfill” that municipalities like Toronto, or other businesses, could better concentrate on.
(First and foremost, get your staff back to work, so that piggish people don’t dump in rivers and ravines, and so that they are not forced to consolidate waste, because the temporary dumps are not accepting recyclables and organic waste.)
Packaging alone is a major area. I know that, to increase cube, it’s important to streamline and squeeze in as much as possible, but does toilet paper really need to be individually gift-wrapped?
And it’s a little insulting to listen to commercials for those triple-concentrated, overly perfumed, skin-stripping detergents that are in “smaller compact bottles” for the sake of the environment!
One of the most “tragic” outcomes of the bag debacle was when the LCBO stopped offering those super thick beige plastic bags at checkout.
This has led to some significant shrinkage, especially when clumsy people like myself, unused to the fragility of paper, leave a 12 year old bottle of Scotch (hostess gift) sitting precariously in its cheap brown paper bag, and it tips over and cracks, leaving a trail of booze and broken glass on the tiles.
Many Torontonians, like the obedient citizens they are, have already embraced those cute little designer cloth bags that state, quite unnecessarily I think, “This is not a plastic bag”, and that cost more than Samsonite luggage.
The cloth bags I own are a motley collection of now-grimy offerings from No Thrills, Wal-Mart, and various banks and charities. I own a few of those little mini bins too, only because they were offered free at one point, but they are pretty useless once you put more than two cartons of milk in them. They might stack nicely, and look good on Loblaws-poster-boy Galen Weston’s arm, stuffed with bunches of organic beets, but that’s about it.
If there’s one person happy using cloth bags, though, it’s definitely my mother. She’s been carrying cloth bags for years. You know the ones: with animal-patterned brocade and chintzy floral fabrics.
She quite fell in love with one of her cloth bags, which had a lively cat pattern and was lined in silk.
Fragile as it was, the lining soon ripped and my mom took it to the dry cleaners to have it repaired. She felt a bit odd getting a cloth bag all fixed up for the price of five new ones, so she shrugged her shoulders and told the cleaners “I’m a bit of a bag lady, I suppose.”
When she went to pick up the bag, the cleaners waved away payment and looked at her sympathetically.
“You BAG LADY, no charge!!”

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Julia Kuzeljevich is managing editor of Motortruck magazine, as well as sister publication Canadian Transportation & Logistics and With nearly seven years’ experience writing for the Canadian transportation industry, Julia specializes in human interest, in-depth news and business articles of interest to the trucking and logistics sectors. Julia has a degree in languages with a postgraduate specialization in journalism, and work experience in the air transportation industry.

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  • 12 year old scotch should be licked up by the cat (minus the broken glass) 18 year old scotch is better. (Perhaps that’s why I became a “bag lady” – with the price of plastic bags it was cutting into my scotch budget!)

  • Julia: Really!!! A blog that is over 4 years old is still the only one on this site,, surely you have had other ideas since then. I think all plastic grocery bags should be discontinued, and a recycle option for all other plastic bags should be available now.