Last week, Justine Trudeau announced a plan to ban single-use plastic by 2021.
Like you, I was very happy at first. “Finally, a step in the right direction!” , I thought. And of course, while it is, there is a wider context to this announcement. There is an air of a PR stunt to it, as it comes on the heels of embarrassing revelations of where Canadian trash actually ends up – in South East Asia, and stashed in the unpopulated regions of Northern Canada.
The Philippines has recently sent back containers of incorrectly labeled “recycling”, which was mostly waste, back to Canada. The Philippines had finally run out of patience after a few years of quiet negotiations brought no solution.
The fact that Trudeau announced that the Trans Mountain Pipeline Project would go ahead despite so many people voicing their concerns, makes any commitment to the environment sound hollow. But let’s get back to that oil product, plastic.
Let’s face it, since China announced that they would not be accepting the West’s plastic anymore, the truth has finally started coming out. It is time for us to confront our dirty little secret , our addiction to single-use plastic. In the West, we think that we are doing the right thing by washing out our plastic and dutifully placing empty containers in the recycling bins provided to us. We are doing the right thing. Our streets are clean so what’s the problem? Now that we know where our plastic gets shipped to, we have a duty to act. We cannot keep using single-use plastic as if there are no consequences. Our plastic is causing not only animals to choke, starve and die but also makes people on the other side of the world ill. To me, this system smacks of colonialism and in our day and age, this is unacceptable.
So, what can we do? There are a few things, actually.
- Start a plastic audit (keep a diary of the types of plastic you buy/ consume over a week or month). Ask yourself which products you can find an unwrapped alternative for, or a glass container. Ask yourself if you really need to use this product.
- You can ask your local supermarket to stock less plastic (by letter, email or social media post).
- Sign petitions to add your voice to the growing number of people who want change for our planet. Here is one by Greenpeace Canada.
Every signature helps!