by Josie Osborne, Executive Director, Raincoast Education Society

Earlier this fall, the Raincoast Education Society undertook a survey in conjunction with the Tofino Consumers Co-op about customer opinions and attitudes on disposable plastic bags.

As was reported in the Westerly News, 41 per cent of members said they preferred the total removal of bags and 51 per cent of members preferred a fee of at least five cents being charged for plastic bags.

Only 17 per cent of Tofino Co-op members said they would not support either a fee or the removal of plastic bags from the Tofino Co-op.

Accordingly, Al Krukoff General Manager of the Tofino Co-op has informed us the Tofino Co-op has decided to implement a three month transition period before beginning to apply a five cent charge on disposable plastic bags on March 1, 2010.

We would like to commend Al and the Tofino Co-op for taking this very important first step in reducing the use of disposable plastic bags in Tofino. As the largest provider of these bags in Tofino, we feel this should be viewed as an example of leadership among the business community. And, of course, this would also be the appropriate time to commend the Tofino Pharmacy for their leadership in being the first local business to take action in reducing their distribution of these bags in the past years by charging a similar fee.

Over the coming months, the Raincoast Education Society will continue to provide education about the impacts of disposable bags and promote alternatives to them, as well as work with local governments and businesses in developing realistic solutions to the problems created by disposable plastic bags.

As consumers, Westerly readers have the most influence in making changes about disposable plastic bags. If you support the decisions of the Tofino Co-op and the Tofino Pharmacy, please take a minute to pass on a few kind and encouraging words to cashiers and managers, and help us all by letting our visitors know they can expect a charge for disposable plastic bags and that they can better support our businesses and our environment by using a reusable bag — preferably one that they buy at a local store!

As always, the Raincoast Education Society welcomes your feedback. Please contact us at 250-725-2560 or