Regina store leading the way with paper bag donation program ahead of plastic bag ban

Mortise and Tenon has raised more than $7,000 for local organizations through a paper bag program.

Mortise and Tenon has raised more than $7,000 for local organizations through a paper bag program

Dani Hackel is one of the co-owners of Mortise and Tenon. They've been using paper bags since the start and came up with a donation program to reduce the amount of paper bags they hand out. (Mortise and Tenon Shop/Facebook)

The City of Regina is banning plastic bags in early 2022, but some businesses aren't waiting. 

City council reviewed a report on the impacts of single-use plastics on April 29. At the meeting, city administration confirmed the ban on single-use plastic bags will come into effect in early 2022. 

It was initially going to come into effect in August 2020, but was delayed due to concerns at the time about the COVID-19 virus spreading on reusable bag's surfaces. 

Mayor Sandra Masters said there is the federal ban on single-use plastics under review right now, but the city wants to do its own work in case the federal one is held up. She said banning single-use plastic bags is "absolutely a priority."

The owners of Mortise and Tenon, a gift shop in the city, aren't waiting on the city to act. The shop has been using paper bags since opening in 2015. The paper bags cost an average of 40 cents, as opposed to the standard five cents at a grocery store for plastic bags, but the store has a unique way of reducing them. 

"Just making sure that we were being useful members of our community was one of our goals. So at our store, if you refuse a paper bag or if you have brought your own bag to use, we give you a little ticket," Dani Hackel, Mortise and Tenon co-owner, said. 

People can then place that ticket in one of six jars and the store donates 40 cents per ticket to a corresponding organization. This month the store added up their donations and Hackel realized it had raised over $7,000 for the Open Door Society, CC RezQs, Carmichael Outreach, Planned Parenthood Regina and more. 

"It was shocking because you always think like 'every little bit counts,'" she said. "But then once we actually looked back at the cheques that we had written, it really does make a huge difference."

The program also inspires people to carry out their items or bring in their own reusable bag, limiting the number of bags the store uses in the first place. Hackel said the paper bags are a higher cost, but it'll be easier for businesses able to buy in bulk.

"You just have to balance out how you feel about keeping those plastics out of the landfill and saving the environment in comparison to cost," Hackel said. "Business is thinking outside of the box and finding ways to offset those costs in other ways."

Mortise and Tenon is located in Downtown Regina. They haven't been using plastic bags since they opened. (Mortise and Tenon Shop/Facebook)

Hackel said the city should do more to get rid of the wasteful and non-renewable plastics being used in town, especially plastic forks and knives. She said the city should look at programming to offer alternatives for people so it's not a huge change.

"I think that's what scares people the most, is that you get rid of something and then people don't know what to do," she said. "Whereas if you roll out a program that gets rid of them but then offers alternatives, I think that would be a big bonus."

Hackel said people have been taking time to rethink their life and the trash they produce during the pandemic. If people want to switch to new products, she advised starting small, as that will be easier on a person's wallet and can still make a big difference over a year. 

"You don't need to come in and spend thousands of dollars to completely equip your entire life in a sustainable way. Start with just buying bags," she said.


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