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De Burger-Fex: Remember the 'good old days' of paper bags and fewer single-use plastics?

Erna implores you to think about the environment at the grocery store and your favourite fast food joint
groceries vegetables paper bag stock

As I’m sure you realize, it’s February again, my least favourite month of the year. (November is a close second!) It is cold, dark, slushy at times. That makes it difficult to walk – too slippery! 

No encouragement for this senior woman to go outside very often. To me, February is the depths of winter. This year, 2020, being a Leap Year, it even has an extra day, adding insult to injury!

There are however another number of things that are bothering me right now. I worry about the environment, so that brings a number of things to mind. Cars idling in drive-thrus (spelled wrong too) have those exhaust fumes just spewing into our air. 

Is it really so difficult or time-consuming to park your car, walk into the restaurant to get your coffee? In my observations, cars in that line-up don’t get to that window any faster to order than those who parked. Think what you’re doing to the environment in the meantime. 

It’s good exercise to get out of your car and walk into Tim Hortons or McDonald's. You don’t want to be labelled lazy, do you?

That brings me to one-use plastics, especially those plastic bottles. They are a scourge for all of us. You know, there are interesting refillable bottles available everywhere, and they’re reasonably priced. 

Bring them home, wash them and refill with either a hot or cold beverage. You can have one of these for years! That makes them economical for you. 

Plastic bags are unnecessary too today. So many nice reusable bags take up little space in the trunk of your car and you’ll always have them with you to take into the grocery store. 

I well remember paper bags being used to pack all our groceries or other purchases in the “good old days.” My children and I would reuse those bags to cover their school books. There was a folding pattern which everyone knew and used. 

This protected the books and served two needs effectively. We were also recycling those paper bags and that was “long ago.”

Oh, but now I must discuss plastic straws. Most of us have seen the stomachs of dead whales on TV, which have hundreds if not thousands of plastic straws embedded in them. There is no need for this! 

There are actually a number of businesses now which have made the decision to stop using them and replacing them with paper straws. The A&W chain of restaurants are using them now across the country! 

The Gift Shop at our hospital uses paper bags for your purchases. French River Trading Post does too! I praise these businesses for their efforts to improve our environment. I’m sure there are many others which I don’t know about. 

By the way, remember how to drink out of a glass without a straw of any kind? Remember how excited we were when our babies learned to do that? There were no sippy cups in my day as an in-between step to the glass.

Then there are those Tim Hortons and McDonald's cups which litter the landscape all across our beautiful country! Why? We see them in ditches, along the roadways and streets, in our iconic Bell Park. 

They are everywhere! Is it so difficult to squash the cup together, stick it into your pocket or bag to discard them in a garbage can or at home? 

This brings me back to refillable containers. It is actually cheaper to have those refilled instead of purchasing a cardboard cup. 

Were you aware of that? See, you can save money and you won’t be cluttering the environment – a win-win both ways.

There, I’ve said my piece. I feel better now.

Erna de Burger-Fex is a writer and retired teacher who writes about aging and the funny side of getting older. Got a question for Erna? Email