The next time you're asked, "Paper or plastic?" at the grocery store, give a thought to the politics of shopping bags, which have huge environmental consequences, a University of Waterloo political scientist told the reThink conference in Waterloo Friday.

"It's not as obscure a topic as you may think, it actually has international significance," said Jennifer Clapp, a University of Waterloo political scientist and CIGI Chair in International Governance.

The facts around plastic bags are surprising and impossible to ignore, Clapp said: Worldwide, consumers use as many as 1.5 trillion plastic bags every year.

That's 2.6 billion a year in Ontario, and as...

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