Local businesses cut plastic use
The last straw for Nancy Johnston was a trip she took to Southeast Asia last winter.
“The women in the markets were putting mango slices in plastic bags and then further down the street there’d be mountains of discarded bags everywhere,” says the owner of Creemore’s Bank Café, adding: “The rivers in Cambodia were clogged with plastic. We visited monasteries in the mountains and the trees around them were covered in bags and wrappers. It was terrible.”
When she returned, Johnston vowed to make her business plastic-free. Although she has been using paper straws for years; now she’s gone further, selling juices in pretty glass bottles stamped with her familiar ‘bee’ logo that customers can take home and re-use. Her take-away coffee cups are compostable, so are the lids. The café serves its immensely popular cinnamon buns in cardboard trays. She uses beeswax-coated wrappers instead of plastic cling wrap and soon she’ll be adding bamboo forks.
Down the street at Affairs Bakery, proprietor Norma Panzini has been committed to cutting down on plastics for years.
“My father had a grocery store,” she says, “and in those days all the pop came in returnable bottles. The bags were all brown paper.”
These days, she says, finding compostable alternatives to the ubiquitous Styrofoam and plastic take out containers can be a challenge. And then there’s the added cost. Plastic forks are 2 cents each; bamboo are 8 cents apiece. It adds up. Nevertheless, she serves her take-out fish and chips in cardboard boxes, and has found a tiny, perfect wooden fork for the fries. She is happy to refill water bottles for the many cyclists that come into town rather than sell them water bottled in plastic.
“We’re trying our best,” says Panzini. The effort is worth it, she says, not just because of the benefit to the environment but because it’s good for business. “I think people have more respect for you as a business if you do this,” she says.
In a way, Affairs and the Bank Café (and the many other local businesses that are going plastic-free) are responding to increasing consumer demand. “It’s astonishing,” Johnston says, “how many people bring their own reusable coffee mugs into the café.”
She admits the streets of Creemore are a lot tidier than the streets of Bangkok. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. “It’s not right in front of us so we don’t care,” she says, adding: “We’re so good at hiding our messes in this country that we don’t see it. But it’s there all right.”
CLEAN is back
More than a decade ago a group of concerned Creemore residents founded Clearview Eco Action Network (CLEAN) to lobby against the use of plastic grocery bags and pesticides.
Well, we’re back with a brand new logo and lots of enthusiasm. This time we hope to encourage Creemore and Clearview to go plastic-free by raising awareness about single-use plastics and showing how everyone in our community can be part of the solution.
Watch the Echo for upcoming events including CLEAN booths at the Creemore Farmer’s Market’s “Bring your own coffee mug” days on July 20 and 27. And look for our logo at participating organizations and businesses in the village.