The problem with Plastics
Plastics are one of the biggest environmental challenges the world is facing right now. Thanks to David Attenborough’s Blue Planet, consumers are ultimately aware of the thousands of tonnes of plastic filling the ocean.
There is so much confusion about the recycling industry and it adds to the waste problem. The shocking truth is that 91% of plastic isn’t recycled.
Of the 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic created over the past 6 decades, only 9% has been recycled, 12% has been incinerated and an incredible 79% of that material is accumulating in landfills, oceans or contaminating the natural environment as litter. (Source:https://unwrappedlife.com/blogs/blog/top-three-reasons-why-recycling-isnt-enough)
What is #PlasticFreeJuly ?
Plastic Free July is a key initiative of the Plastic Free Foundation that works towards a vision of seeing a world free of plastic waste.
The award-winning movement was started by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz (the founder of the Plastic Free Foundation) and a small team in local government in Western Australia, and is now one of the most influential environmental campaigns in the world. Millions of people across the globe take part every year, with many committing to reducing plastic pollution far beyond the month of July.
What can we do?
July 2020 finds us in a global pandemic - one that has both regenerated and taxed the sustainable consumer movement. Today, the need to use single-use plastics is synonymous with the management of the spread of COVID-19.
Here are some changes to make a conscious reduction in your plastic waste this July without compromising your commitment to curbing the spread of the virus:
I know the convenience of swinging into a drive thru makes a parent's life "easier". I too allow it as "an occasional treat" or a "reward for a busy day"... But the hard truth fast food chains top the lists as the largest contributors to plastic based litter according to CBC's Radio Canada International.
Image source: https://www.rcinet.ca
On world clean up day, Greenpeace did an audit of the worst polluters of
If you're a frequent drive-thru patron, try to skip the trip in July.
2. Not. One. Plastic Bottle.
I know this one is obvious but as the weather warms up it is easy to prioritize hydration over heat stroke. Plan ahead, pack a re-usable bottle and refuse spontaneous offers for plastic bottle drinks. This July, commit to no plastic bottles. The habits you start now will hopefully last longer than a month.
3. Shopping Bags - Just don't.
This one requires more commitment in the midst of strict pandemic rules as some grocery stores do not allow re-usable/personal bags in the store. My solution is to fill your cart - bag-free - and quickly transfer in the parking lot. Stocking your car with open-topped corrugate boxes or bins makes it fast and easy to transfer and unload at home.
4. No take out coffee
It's a popular misconception that coffee cups are recyclable. Furthermore, those that throw them in the "blue-bin" potentially contaminate the load of otherwise recyclable items.
Last year, an estimated 45,000 tonnes of garbage was mistakenly deposited into the recycling stream, where it can end up damaging equipment, causing workplace injuries and ruining perfectly good recyclables.
That includes hot beverage cups, though just how many land in blue bins is unknown. The Toronto Star reported in 2009 that Torontonians were discarding about a million cups a day; the city was unable to confirm whether that number has risen or declined since then.
“Coffee cups are considered a contaminant in our Blue Bin recycling program at this time,” Jim McKay, general manager, solid waste management services, wrote in an email. “Paper coffee cup sleeves can be recycled, as they do not contain a plastic type lining in the fibre material.”
5. Shop Farmers Markets/local farmers
Image source: Newmarket Farmers Market
Not only is food purchased at local markets usually fresher, the food you buy at the farmers market is seasonal. It reflects the truest flavours. Shopping and cooking from the farmers market helps you to reconnect with the cycles of nature in our region.
Food at the farmers market is transported shorter distances and is generally grown using methods that minimize the impact on the earth. There is less packaging used (or none at all) making it a simple plastic-free solution.
6. Consider a Refill-ery
Image source: Replenish General Store, Aurora, Ont.
7. Can the Saran
Plastic wrap is just so darn affordable and convenient. However with gorgeous and sustainable options like this bowl cover from @GreenGuac out of Bradford, Ontario.I'm committed to going saran-free for as long as I can. The covers are hand-sewn out of your choice of fabric and lined with a waterproof backing. They are washable, re-usable and of course - adorable.
8.Go Glass when you can
In July I vow to pick one plastic product and swap it for a local glass-packaged alternative. Glass jars contain no chemicals that can leach into food, and glass can be safely washed at high temperatures. Recycled glass uses 40% less energy than manufacturing new glass, and up to 80% of all recycled glass can be reclaimed. Not all plastic can be recycled. Milk is ready available in glass bottles. Consider swapping to a glass container for July and taste the difference.
9. Water play vs. Water balloons
I hate to say it but balloons are the straws of 2019. Balloons, like plastics are hazards when they enter the environment. ... Balloons kill countless animals and cause dangerous power outages. They can travel thousands of miles and pollute the most remote and pristine places. Balloons return to the land and sea where they can be mistaken for food and eaten by animals. (Source: www.encentre.org).
Consider pails, funnels and basters for outdoor water play and tissue paper pom poms instead of balloon decorations at upcoming parties and events.
Image source: Parenting.com
10. Make your own popsicles instead of freezies
While it's hard to argue in favour of plastic popsicle makers, they do eliminate the waste of a single-use freezie wrapper. Stainless options do exist, but with poor usage reviews. Choosing homemade over store bought is a commitment to reducing waste. At your next party or event consider pre-making your own popsicles. Don't have any idea what to freeze? Check out Jessica Gavin's amazing recipes here and be inspired.
11. Compostable produce trays vs. styrofoam
Image source: Nature Fresh Farms
Growers are starting to invest in sustainable options to styrofoam. Styrofoam has little to no recyclability and takes hundreds of years to decompose. It's widely used in the packaging of corn, mini cucumbers and meat.
Ontario-based Nature's Fresh has worked with local Pulp Moulded Products Inc. to develop and manufacture (locally!) a compostable tray that replaces foam.
Since June 2018, Nature Fresh Farms has distributed 6 million compostable molded fibre trays within the marketplace - thus removing a hypothetical 6 million landfill styrofoam alternatives from the stream. (Source: Nature Fresh Farms)
Look for similar options at your supermarket and support this ground breaking innovations. Ask your grocers to provide sustainble alternatives to styrofoam.
12. Change your "throw-away mindset"
To tackle the plastic crisis, we need to shift away from disposables and a throwaway culture. As you shop, consider the longevity of the item and invest in quality, local items.
Commit to making your own meals and get curious about where your food comes from. Speak to your merchants, restaurants and manufacturers: ask for plastic free options - and support those that prioritize them in favour of landfill options.
Every step you take in eliminating single-use plastic is a step in the right direction.
We'd love to hear about a plastic you freed yourself of this July! Post your progress and tag us @seedimagination.
#torontoenvironmentalalliance #unwrappedlife #plasticfreejuly #naturefreshfarms #greenguac #newmarketfarmersmarket #sheldoncreek #newmarketontario #plasticfreejuly