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Maple Ridge recycling society encouraging community to take part in Plastic Free July

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Uzair Rizwan, a summer education assistant at the recycling society, wants the community to join him in avoiding single-use plastics this July. (Special to The News)

A summer student at the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society is challenging himself – and the community – to avoid single-use plastic for the whole month of July.

Uzair Rizwan had not heard of the Plastic Free July until he started working as a summer education assistant at the recycling society, now he others to join him in saying no to single-use plastics.

“This challenge is where you avoid single use plastics for as long as you can during the month of July,” said Rizwan.

“Some people commit to one day, others one week, and some —- like myself —- commit to a full month of avoiding single-use plastics. I am excited for the challenges ahead and hope to overcome them in the coming weeks.”

Plastic Free July is a global movement started by a small team in Western Australia with the Plastic Free Foundation.

According to the foundation, an IPSOS survey in 2021 of more than 20,000 people in 28 countries, revealed that 29 per cent of global consumers surveyed were aware of Plastic Free July and, of those, 13 per cent participated.

“This meant an estimated 140 million people worldwide took part in Plastic Free July from 190 countries,” the foundation said on their website.

However, the recycling society in Maple Ridge noted that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, reusable bags and cups were prohibited, which meant that any progress made towards using reusable items until then was curtailed.

Now, there is a lot of ground to make up before the federal Single-Use Plastic bans start rolling out in January, 2023, the society added.

Participants in Plastic Free July can learn just how prevalent plastic is in their lives and discover new reusable alternatives.

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During the challenge, participants will be able to tell their stories of a plastic they had a difficult time finding an alternative to and put their stories into a “dilemma bag” to be shared after the challenge.

Rizwan is hoping everyone who participates in Plastic Free July will share encouragement and dilemma bag stories on Facebook in the group Ridge Meadows Plastic Free July – as well, take a survey on single-use plastic awareness is on the recycling society’s website.

The recycling society is celebrating 50 years of recycling evolution this year and is hoping for high participation this year in Plastic Free July – even if participants can’t take part for the full month, even a day is great, said Rizwan.

“It is all about the experience, and challenges associated with going plastic-free. I hope through this experience, people can realize how difficult it is to avoid plastic even when they are actively trying,” noted Rizwan. “People will also become aware of the many plastic-free alternatives on the market, like beeswax wrap instead of plastic wrap.”

For more information go to or the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society’s website at

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

Colleen Flanagan is an award-winning multimedia journalist with more than 15 years experience in the industry.
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