IGA goes green – As of September 3rd, IGA Montreal stores will no longer offer plastic bags at their checkout counters. It is all part of Sobeys plans (who franchise the supermarket stores), to eliminate all disposable bags across Canada by the end of January 2020. Customers can bring their own reusable bags or be offered the option of paper bags at cash registers. For now, due to health concerns, they will continue to offer the thin plastic bags, used for produce, prepared meals and some meats – but at the same time, they have introduced an alternative, reusable mesh bag made from recycled plastic bottles that shoppers can buy.
Adding to the initiative, IGA stores will also be allowing customers to bring their own reusable containers for fish, meat, prepared food and other produce – following in the footsteps of the Metro grocery chain that introduced the same program earlier this year. Although many questions have been raised concerning the potential of cross-contamination such as E.coli and other non-visible bacterium ormicroorganisms, due to customers not cleaning out their containers properly. IGA employees are being trained to identify whether a container has been sufficiently cleaned – and it would behoove customers to make sure they are. As well, they have set aside some conveniently located, reserved parking spots for shoppers who bring with their own reusable bags. They are hard to miss, being painted bright red and clearly indicated.
Last Friday, I was at the IGA store in Pointe-Claire just off Saint-Jean Boulevard to pick up a few things and was guilty of forgetting my reusable bags (once again) at home. At the cash register, I was greeted by two youthful employees, Ruddy-Sann N. Sison and Sarah De Nunzio, who were both friendly and gracious when I embarrassingly explained my dilemma and had to ask for a few plastic bags. I had no excuse to offer, as there was none, but will make sure not to forget my bags next time – and immediately return them to the trunk of my car. After they efficiently checked out my goods and packed everything up, I took the opportunity to talk with them, seeing as it was also a quiet time of the day and nobody was behind me. We briefly discussed the issue of plastic bags, environmental concerns and IGA’s initiative.
Both Ruddy and Sarah were clear on their perspective and way ahead of understanding the gravity of the harm we are doing to our planet than most adults. In Canada alone, we use close to 3 billion bags per year, with most ending up in our oceans and ecosystems – and they gave me hope that the mess we have created can be stopped and hopefully reversed. Although IGA’s plans are highly commendable, it is but a but a fraction of the amount of plastic used throughout our grocery stores in Canada for all types of packaging – from plastic wrapping to containers that hold produce. The initiative has been offered and now it is up to all of us, to really make change happen.