On Wednesday, Oct. 7, the federal government announced plans to ban some single-use plastic products such as checkout bags, straws and cutlery.
Wildsight Golden has come out in support of the move, noting Canadians throw away three million tonnes of plastic waste every year, with only nine per cent actually being recycled as a prime indicator of why this is so important.
Leslie Adams, of Wildsight Golden, says the ban is a step in the right direction, just as much about bringing the issue to the forefront of the public consciousness as it is about reducing waste.
“It’s a good start. What can we do now is hope people will consider the whole waste hierarchy and look at everything they can do to reduce their waste first and then reduce and recycle,” said Adams.
“It helps raise awareness so that people really have to pay attention to what they use and notice that things are different.”
Adams doesn’t think the ban will impact the people of Golden too much, believing that local residents are already very aware of their garbage waste disposal and living sustainably.
However, with COVID, she sees signs of people sliding back into old bad habits, hoping the ban will be what people need to jump -start their environmentally friendly practices again.
“Before the pandemic, every second person was using reusable bags in town,” said Adams.
“Using plastic has been made easy and we’re in a habit, people are always going to do what’s easiest, so targeting these products and making them less available will affect our behaviour.”
For those looking to go above and beyond, Adams says it’s important to be aware of your choices and do your research.
She says it’s good to invest in metal straws and bamboo take-out cutlery, but sometimes plastic can sneak back into your life if you’re not careful.
Adams says straws are an example of that so avoid inadvertently using single-use plastics.
She does her research in advance.
For example, she knows that A&W use compostable straws, so that if one sneaks into the garbage, she doesn’t have to worry about it.
She also takes note of the packaging her food comes in and tries to use her own packaging when possible.
Although, she’s still trying to figure out why it’s so hard to buy cauliflower that isn’t pre-wrapped in plastic.
“Once you start getting into it, it’s easy to make these shifts on your own,” said Adams.
“I think this is the beginning and we’re going to see less and less plastic options as people start to bring their own reusable cups and compostable options.”
While this move comes at the federal level, the ban will impact towns like Golden locally, where one can visually see the impact plastic litter has on waterways and water systems.
“When the river is low and you stand on the bridge and look over it, you can count the amount of cup lids and plastic bottles that pass by,” said Adams.
“Chances are you have plastic in you from the pollution of our waterways.
“If a product doesn’t break down, we shouldn’t be using it.”
Next, Adams would like to see a shift to sustainable fashion and expanding the ban to include more plastics.