This post is predicated on a great article in the Globe and Mail on Saturday May 11th about plastic and single use plastics in particular. If you have not read it, I suggest you do.
It’s been one week and I have NOT thrown out 18 Starbucks cups in the garbage, one week since Liz and I made the conscience decision to use only a travel coffee mug. It is a small step, one that on the grand scheme of things probably only makes me feel better about my small effort. The first day I walked in to my Starbucks, rather than mobile ordering, the manager gave me a weird look because I had not mobile ordered. I said I can’t do it anymore, I asked him ‘do you have any idea how many cups I throw out? He understood.
Does this get me closer to purchasing an electric vehicle? No.
Does this get me closer to starting to lecture others on what they should do? No
But it is my little bit that I can do know, less garbage and less plastics – it is our single efforts to do a little that will have the greatest impacts. Like I said, it’s a little for now, it will grow to doing more and to being made aware of where Liz and I can make little changes for a cleaner world.
This one article was an eye opening read. It’s amazing how much we encourage people to recycle and how much actually GETS recycled. Yes, everyone feels good when the blue box, the black box and the green bin go to the curb. If we all understood how little good this did, what actions would we be willing to take to make a bigger impact? It is generally accepted that there is far too much packaging in goods we purchased day to day. How do we get manufacturers to act on reducing packaging, especially items that are sealed in hard plastics. plastics that may or may not be accepted in our recycle bins.
It costs municipalities millions of dollars to have recycle programs, and the same municipalities may not earn much revenue from these same programs. Municipalities struggle with cost vs good of a recycle program. In Ottawa, the city spent $42.5M in 2018 on waste diversion and recycling. In 2016 the City had revenues of $10.1M for paper and plastics. However that revenue did not cover the costs of the pick up of the recyclables. Part of the costs of Ottawa recycling in 2016 were picked up by Ontario’s stewardship program, in 2018 that program provides over $6M to the city.
How much longer can muncipalities afford these programs? I know we can’t afford NOT to have them. This should change with the Waste Free Ontario Act passed in 2016 by the Wynne government. This act puts the onus on the manufactiers and producers shoulders. They will need to find ways to reduce their packaging and I assume the cost of packaging.
As consumers we can demand better and should demand better of the manufacturers and of ourselves. Demand that what we buy has less packaging and demand that we buy products with less packaging. We need to compare and reward those that make the effort needed. It’s something I have started to pay attention to.
So for today it comes down to me and my travel coffee mug, less waste and my coffee staying hotter longer – its my small green shift.
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