Giving it up for Earth Day: Kanata’s Plastic Challenge

Written by guest blogger Denise Deby, who writes on local and global social and environmental issues.

To mark Earth Day – Friday, April 22 – the Kanata Environmental Network (KEN) is challenging people to do without plastics for a week.

Their “Earth Week Plastic Challenge,” in collaboration with Earth Day Ottawa, encourages people to reduce their use of plastics, especially single-use disposable products like plastic bags, coffee cup lids, plastic food packaging and styrofoam.

KEN explains why they’re holding the challenge: “The plastic we do use is eventually thrown out and fills our garbage dumps. Over time the plastic breaks down into microscopic bits that wind their way into the water ways, soils, and food chains.” Plastics that don’t make it into our garbage get into storm water drains, rivers, lakes and oceans where they’re a hazard to ecosystems, wildlife and human health.

Going plastics-free is tough. I have noticed, though, that after my family uses our recycling and green bins, there’s not much left – other than some plastic packaging. Time to reduce that.

KEN suggests checking out the No Plastic Project, a blog by Ottawa residents Melissa MacLean and Colette Stoeber, for tips on reducing plastic consumption and taking action to reduce plastic packaging.

KEN also invites people to check out and contribute stories and suggestions on the Earth Week Plastic Challenge Facebook site.

Also worth a look are Beth Terry’s site at http://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/. Beth Terry is a California resident who decided in 2007 that she’d stop buying any new plastic, and she’s led campaigns to get companies to reduce or recycle their plastic packaging. Vancouverite Taina Uitto blogs about how she’s ending her “sad, blatantly fake, and unwanted relationship with plastic” at http://plasticmanners.wordpress.com/.

More information on the problems with plastics and what we can do about them is available from the Plastic Pollution Coalition. (If you know of other resources please do let us know.)

KEN’s no-plastics initiative corresponds with Earth Day Canada’s 2011 “Give It Up” campaign. Give It Up suggests buying nothing new, cutting out toxic chemicals, eating a meatless diet, or turning off the TV and getting outside. According to Earth Day Canada, choosing healthier alternatives even for a short time can prompt us to think about the impact of our decisions over a lifetime. That’s where it starts.

And just for fun, here’s an inspiring video from Vancouver:

Plastic is Forever.

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