Going green: Plastic, the gift that keeps on giving

Going green: Plastic, the gift that keeps on giving

Plastic Free July led to efforts to reduce waste

A diary of a plastic-free month:

Here’s a handy bit of trivia. Did you know that every piece of plastic ever created still exists today? Picture it: plastic never goes away, it just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, releasing toxic chemicals as it does.

Here’s another gripping factoid. Globally, we produce more than 280 million tonnes of plastic each year. That is 83 lbs. per person, and plastic production is expected to quadruple by 2050. Gross.

So this summer, during Plastic Free July, I decided to stop waiting for the stuff to magically disappear and take a more proactive approach, at least for a month. And keep a diary to keep on track. Here’s what my progress looked like.

Day 1 – I head out for groceries, with reusable cotton totes from Lee Valley and cloth produce bags in hand.

Feeling smug that I won’t need any single-use plastic bags.

I arrive at the store and grab veggies for dinner. Hold it – the beans are wrapped in plastic. Feeling furtive, I untie the plastic baggy and put the beans into one of my mesh bags. At the till, I explain I’m not using plastic because it’s Plastic Free July. I hand the cashier the unwanted plastic. She places it behind the counter – into the garbage? I explain that the store could re-use it. The cashier looks puzzled. I give up.

Insight #1 – Maybe I give up too easily.

Day 4 – With dinner all over but the dishes, it’s time to put the food away. I ladle leftovers into a plastic container.

The bottom of this one is fine but the lid is torn. I instantly see the point of the cloth covers I’ve seen at Roots. I wonder: If I never buy another plastic container, what will I get instead?

Insight #2 – I need to find good alternatives to the plastics I use for storage.

Day 17 – Another shopping day. Could I take my own container to the meat counter instead of bringing my beef home in plastic? It’s worth a shot. At my first stop, I make my request. Can you put the meat in my container? The counter clerk looks puzzled. Another clerk arrives and they confer. They tell me their meat comes already packaged, so no, they can’t help me.

I have better luck at Hopcott’s, where I make the same request. The young lady helping me looks perplexed. She confers with a colleague. Eureka! There is a way! She weighs out my turkey on a small square of paper and places it into my container.

Insight #3 – Maybe if more people did this it wouldn’t seem so weird.

Day 24 – Tonight is the monthly Maple Meadows Green Drinks event. A lively gang convenes to share tips on living without plastic.

There are practical and imaginative substitutes – silk dental floss, bamboo toothbrushes, beeswax wraps, antique Pyrex.

We’re now seeing stores where you can fill your own containers with everything from bulk foods to body wash.

Insight #4 – Some businesses are way out in front already.

Insight #5 – Living without plastic seems easy and fun when you’re not the only one doing it.

That about sums up my Plastic Free July. I learned that other people have great ideas, that it’s painless when you take it a step at a time and that many businesses are eager to take up the challenge.

Let’s prove the pundits wrong about 2050. Let’s tell the plastics manufacturers, “You’re not the boss of me.” In a nice way. We’ll simply stop using their crap.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Phyllis Neufeld was on the Alouette River dike in Pitt Meadows on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, when she took this photo. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Sun breaks through a rainy Pitt Meadows sky

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

The artwork is by Caitlin Legault who is not the only local person grateful to those who work in health care. A local letter writer recently had to go to hospital and wanted everyone there to know that their efforts are appreciated. (Special to The News)
LETTER: Pitt Meadows letter writer grateful for all those who cared for her at hospital

Staff in every department worthy of praise, local woman says

Devin Martinson sent in some views that caught his eye. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Urban and rural views of Maple Ridge

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Ron Paley didn’t let the rain stop him from exploring Golden Ears Park on Alouette Mountain recently. (Special to The News)
SHARE: The eerie beauty of Golden Ears Park

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Steven Powell is extremely grateful for the help staff and store owners at Valley Fair Mall have provided. (Ronan O’Doherty/ The News)
Community rallies to replace disabled man’s stolen trike

Steven Powell’s work mates are raising funds to purchase him a new set of wheels

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Alina Durham, mother of Shaelene Bell, lights candles on behalf of Bell’s two sons during a vigil on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO and PHOTOS: Candlelight vigil for missing Chilliwack woman sends message of hope

Small group of family, friends gathered to shine light for 23-year-old mother Shaelene Bell

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

Judith Uwamahoro is Black, approximately 4’7″ tall, 80 pounds and has short black hair and brown eyes. (Surrey RCMP handout)
UPDATED: Lower Mainland 9-year-old located after police make public plea

Judith Uwamahoro went missing Friday at around 4 p.m. in Surrey

Five-year-old Nancy Murphy wears a full mask and face shield as she waits in line for her kindergarten class to enter school during the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, September 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Variant of concern linked to COVID-19 outbreak at three Surrey schools

Cases appear to be linked to community transmissions, but schools will remain open

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Most Read