Advertisement
Advertisement
ontarionewswatch.com NEWSROOM

 

             It's High Time For A Sin Tax On Single Use Disposable Items 

 

By Terri Chu

Having a kid is expensive, anybody can tell you that.  What nobody told me, though, was how expensive raising a child can be when you try to stay low on environmental impact. 

Cloth diapers are a huge capital outlay and I’m not convinced they are used long enough to break even against disposables.  Using a diapering service costs around $25/week, while disposables at 30 cents each, even using 10 per day, come in at $21.

My mother often talks about my own childhood when she had to wash our cloth diapers, back before fancy Velcro diaper covers, when safety pins reigned supreme.  “Disposable diapers were invented already but they were just too expensive. We were too poor for that,” she tells me.

How is it that in a single generation, cloth diapers went from the burdens of the poor to the luxury of the hipster rich parents?  Choosing products that have a low(er) environmental impact should not be an economically punitive decision.  In the span of a single generation, manufacturing has become so automated, labour so cheap, and resources so disrespected that using things once and throwing them out has become cheaper than buying something that can be reused. 

A diaper is nothing short of an engineering marvel.  Petrochemicals brilliantly absorb pee, synthetic materials whisk moisture away from the skin (key to preventing diaper rashes) and a wetness indicator tells us when it’s time for a change.  Using and throwing out one of these marvels of engineering is cheaper than buying and washing pieces of cloth.

But if we are to get serious about meeting our environmental goals, we have to stop making low impact purchasing decisions so economically punitive.

My apologies to the men reading this, but let’s take a look at some more numbers.  Everyone is familiar with a tampon.  Though the cost varies depending on where you buy them and in what quantities, a good average estimated unit cost is about 20 cents each.  You use these little cylinders of cotton once, the plastic inserter gets discarded and so does its wrapper.  On the market is a slightly more environmentally friendly product called the “Diva Cup."  It retails for $40.  Assuming the Diva Cup replaces one heavy flow tampon per day, and an average four-day cycle, the Diva Cup pays for itself after 4.2 years.  This is all fine and dandy if not for the fact that the manufacturer recommends replacing the Diva Cup after a year.

Back to diapers. For anyone wanting to wash his or her own diapers, an all-in-one diaper costs about $30.  Compared to a 30-cent diaper, you would have to use the cloth 100 times to break even (to say nothing of the labour and energy to wash it). Owning enough diapers to do laundry once every 3 days means breaking even after 300 days.  For anyone new to the world of infants, babies grow out of things after about 3 months, or 90 days - well before the diaper will break even on cost. 

Is it really a wonder that cash-strapped parents and women choose single use disposable products?

It is high time for a sin tax on single use disposable items, whether these are diapers, tampons or paper plates.  If people want the luxury of being able to throw things out without washing it, it should be treated as that: a luxury. 

While people are tightening belts, it’s impossible to blame them for making decisions based on their wallets.  If we are to transition to a society that’s sustainable, we need good public policy that creates economic incentives for low impact decisions. 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted date : May 05, 2016
ontarionewswatch.com NEWSROOM
The renegotiation of NAFTA resumes this week in Mexico City. What does Canada have to do to save NAFTA - or should it bother? Mahoney, Stewart and Parkin weigh in.
November 14, 2017
A recent series of lectures in Toronto might help Prime Minister Trudeau's search for an path towards reconciliation with Canada's First Nations.
November 12, 2017
Justin Trudeau's fundraiser and former Liberal PMs Jean Chretien and Paul Martin are linked to companies with holdings in offshore tax havens. Mahoney, Stewart and Parkin debate.
November 08, 2017
While populists in some countries say immigration and freer trade have caused inequality inside nations, globally it's a different story. More migration helps.
November 06, 2017
Should all of Justin Trudeau's cabinet ministers - not just Bill Morneau - be required to put their holdings in a blind trust? Mahoney, Stewart and Parkin debate.
October 31, 2017
Critics of Ontario's Basic Income pilot project say the fact it's not universal means it won't achieve economic security where jobs are perilous and scarce.
October 26, 2017
Can indexing the Child Benefit to inflation as Canada enjoys a booming economy change the channel for beleaguered Finance Minister Morneau? Mahoney, Stewart and Parkin are in The Salon.
October 25, 2017
"Evidence-based" decision making is good, but there is much that is not quantifiable to show that bike lanes on Bloor Street should stay.
October 15, 2017
The Liberals are lowering the small business tax rate to 9% as of 2019 as the Finance Minister faces possible conflict of interest accusations. Mahoney, Stewart and Parkin discuss.
October 14, 2017
Critics say Canada is getting beaten up by the Trump administration in the NAFTA negotiations. Is the "charm offensive" failing? Mahoney, Capobianco and Parkin debate.
October 11, 2017
The NDP has chosen the Ontario-based Singh to head up the party. Mahoney, Stewart and Parkin debate whether it made a smart move.
October 03, 2017
A debate over social injustice being held at the University of Toronto this week features three affluent white men - no blacks, women or other marginalized groups
October 02, 2017