Solution to Plastic Pollution

Jul 5, 2021

Plastic waste in Canada is a major environmental issue. According to Environmental Defense Canada, our country produces 3.3 million tons of plastic waste annually. Less than 11 percent of that waste is properly recycled and the rest either ends up in landfills or worse. About 29,000 tonnes finds its way into our environment and water, making Canadians among the largest plastic pollution contributors per capita. We at The Gaia Project are rising to the #PlasticFreeJuly Challenge to not only reduce our plastic consumption, but to properly get rid of it as well. In order to do this, we’ve compiled our Top Five Favourite Plastic-Free Tips just for you!

1) Invest in reusable products! This is the best pro-tip for anyone looking to go zero-waste. Reusable snack and freezer bags can save you money in the long run and are better for the environment as they are usually made from plastic-free, food-grade silicon. Other alternatives include using beeswax food wraps instead of cellophane and glass storage containers to store all your leftovers and lunches (plus the glass is clear, so you’ll be able to see what is in the container and reduce your food waste). Reusable shopping and produce bags will save you from bringing home mounds of plastic shopping bags, and they hold more.

Additional everyday goods are being made to be reusable – metal straws, ear wax cleaners, toothpicks, and even some personal items like menstrual cups, cloth pads, and toiletries. Many cities are seeing more businesses that allow customers to bring their own containers to refill laundry detergent, soap, shampoo, conditioner, cleaners, and more.

2) Use plastic alternatives! There are more environmentally friendly solutions being created today than ever before. We’re talking bamboo toothbrushes, corn starch flossers, toothpaste tabs, biodegradable packaging, and package-free shampoo, conditioner and soap bars. There are also plenty of options when it comes to replacing chemicals in your house such as laundry tabs/strips, washable dusters, and bamboo paper towels. If you can find it in plastic, you can most likely find it in hemp or bamboo as well.

3) Say NO to new! Trendy toys and fast fashion have created a high turnover for toys and clothes. Unfortunately, these are all riddled with plastics. Say no to the toys in your ‘kid’s meal’ or buying new from the store. Thrift stores and online markets are teeming with goods that are in new condition after being purchased, but never used. As for clothes, polyester, nylon, acrylic, and other synthetic fibers — all of which are forms of plastic — now comprise about 60 percent of the clothing material used worldwide. Every time you wash clothing made from these fabrics, microplastics escape and end up in our local waters. Not to mention all the waste accumulated from trends that will be out of style next month. Buying second hand toys, clothes (especially children’s clothes), and other goods saves these kinds of items from landfills and keeps money in your pocket. Switching to more sustainable fabrics is a switch you’ll never regret.

4) The Three Rs. You’ve heard them your entire life, because they work. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Did you know there are two more?! It’s now the 5Rs- Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle.

 Refuse packaging and extras- this is where having your own reusable tools, bags and containers comes in handy. Reduce buying plastics, items in plastic packaging, and speak to your local food vendors about the amount of plastics they use to wrap your food. Reuse and repurpose all you can, aim to buy things that come in glass jars that can be repurposed, or find new uses for items you never thought of (like using yogurt cups to start seeds or cutting them up to use as plant labels!). And of course, recycle!

So much of our garbage is improperly sorted and ends up in landfills when it could have been recycled, broken down, and made into something new. If you want to make a positive impact, spend some time reorganizing and making sure that the things that can be recycled end up in the right bin.

5) Eat more sustainably sourced meals! Say goodbye to fast food, and either spend some time in your kitchen or at your local eatery (preferably a locally-owned joint) enjoying deliciously prepared food. Pro tip – skip the doggy bag and bring your own container. Many restaurants have no problem with patrons bringing containers from home to pack leftovers. It saves them inventory and helps cut down on single use garbage. Additionally, many businesses in the foodservice industry are taking the effort to ditch single use plastics seriously, investing in biodegradable containers and sustainably made utensils. Support these businesses! Your purchasing power as a consumer determines how businesses operate, so support the good ones who are making an effort.

In the end, know that your individual contribution means a lot when it comes to finding a solution to plastic pollution. Ultimately, every environmentally-conscious decision you make is an action needed to help fight climate change. Although your contribution may feel small at times, each choice you make to eliminate waste is an opportunity to create a better tomorrow for us all and the generations that inherit the Earth after us.

Check out the video below for more facts on Canadian plastic consumption from Environmental Defense Canada:

Author: Ashley Anthony, Communications Manager, The Gaia Project

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