Buying less packaging and reducing your single-use plastic consumption is a fantastic way to support the environment and minimize your plastic footprint. For Earth Month, we want to help you find easy ways to live more sustainably. So we have put together some suggestions and ideas for reducing your use of plastics.

Buying Less Packaging

 

Buying less packaging and one-use plastic is a great way to support the environment and to live more sustainably.

Plastic is a major polluter of our environments, ending up in rivers, lakes, and oceans, harming wildlife, and generating microplastic in the water we use and drink. Each year, Canadians throw away 3 million tonnes of plastic waste, only 9% of which is recycled. That means that the majority of plastics end up in landfills and about 29,000 tonnes end up in our natural environment.

In October 2020, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, announced the government’s next steps towards achieving zero plastic waste by 2030. Part of this is to eliminate the harmful single-use plastic items that are not often recycled and which have available alternatives. This ban consists of six items: plastic checkout bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery, and food ware made from hard-to-recycle plastics.

Thirty-five countries around the world, including France, Italy, and the U.K., have implemented similar bans on single-use plastics.

 

Downtown businesses to help you reduce waste:

 

West Coast Refill

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West Coast Refill aims to reduce plastic waste in packaging and purchasing of cleaning materials. You bring in your clean and dry bottles and they will fill them by weight with all-natural, plant-based cleaning products. They also have beauty products, such as lip balm, bath bombs, and shampoo! Whenever possible, they try to support local British Columbian and Canadian small manufacturers.

 

Zero Waste Emporium

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Zero Waste Emporium is a grocery store that aims to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill and oceans by providing package-free groceries. You bring your clean, dry containers and fill them up with delicious food, and other fabulous products; it’s that easy!

Photo by Ariel Glidden

 

Other Easy Ways to Limit One-Use Plastic:

 

Bring your own bags

Reusable, cloth shopping bags are a wonderful and sustainable investment and a great thing to carry around with you, just in case. Stores’ paper bags are a good alternative to plastic. They are easier to recycle and are made of something much more natural than soft plastic. However, sometimes even those paper bags end up being one-use if they get wet or rip. If you carry a cloth bag with you, you don’t need to rely on stores for bags and you know that it will get used over and over again.

 

Use a reusable water bottle and travel mug

In the same way that having reusable bags is a fantastic way to reduce wasted plastic and paper, carrying a reusable water bottle and travel mug helps reduce the amount of single-use, disposable containers that end up in the garbage. Just think how many disposable coffee cups would be saved from use if everyone had an alternative. Using your own bottle or mug allows you to save money at the grocery store or coffee shops too and you can personalize your bottle and mug for fun and easy recognition!

 

Find alternatives to cling wrap

Cling wrap is seldom washed and used again. Sometimes it rips, sometimes it’s the wrong size or shape for what you need. There are alternatives, however. Try packing food in reusable containers, like Tubberware, or bags. Try Beeswax wraps instead, which are made of cloth infused with beeswax, jojoba oil, and tree resin. The Good Planet Company on Fort Street has lots of great options for cling wrap alternatives!

 

Buy glass instead

When you do need to buy packaging or bottles, a good alternative to plastic is glass or aluminum. Both are more sustainable options since they are easier to recycle than plastic, which is hard to break down and reuse. Recycled glass uses 40% less energy than manufacturing new glass, and up to 80% of glass can be reclaimed. Whereas not all plastic can be recycled.

 

More Information:

If you want to look into the effects of single-use plastics on the environment or Canada’s next steps in the sustainability plan, check out the article in CTV News or the Federal Government’s New Release from October 7, 2020.

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