It’s in the bag

Plastic bags blowing in the wind and getting tangled up in tree branches might become a sight less common in Whitehorse.

Plastic bags blowing in the wind and getting tangled up in tree branches might become a sight less common in Whitehorse.

Thursday, the Yukon government and Whitehorse announced the purchase of 7,000 reusable bags that will be handed out to businesses around Whitehorse.

The bags will be given to shoppers free of charge in the hopes they will be used instead of plastic bags.

“The use of reusable bags is one way we can divert waste from Yukon landfills,” said Environment Minister Elaine Taylor.

“Plastic bags hurt wildlife and fish, they have limited re-use and are hardly ever recycled.”

The bags are an important move forward for the city, said Mayor Bev Buckway.

Whitehorse has debated the issue of plastic bags for quite some time.

Last year, councillor Jan Stick introduced a discussion on whether the city should ban plastic bags altogether.

“The debate on the best way to deal with plastic bags will continue for some time,” said Buckway.

Several Whitehorse businesses already use reusable bags such as 3 Beans, Fields and Staples.

“When we thought of this idea we weren’t sure how the business community would react,” said Rick Karp, president of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce.

“We were amazed with the response we got though. Lots of businesses said they were really interested in having the bags and several businesses have already asked for follow-up bags.”

The territorial government and the city each contributed $5,000 to the project.

The announcement came the same day that the Yukon government held a one-day environment forum at Yukon College.

The conference was attended by about one hundred city and government officials, conservationists, and environmentalists.

Workshops focused on such things as waste management in the Yukon, reducing your carbon footprint, wildlife preservation and aquatic stewardship.

Contact Vivian Belik at vivianb@yukon-news.com