Our federal government has announced plans to ban single-use plastic containers at some point in the near future. That will be quite a challenge, but I think collectively we can live with less plastic in our lives. There will be mis-steps and difficulties along the way, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make the effort. A good start would be to do away with those plastic mineral water bottles I see littered around our parks.
Here in Toronto at least, we have really good drinking water. When I go on nature walks and want to bring water along, I fill my re-usable water bottle from the tap and off I go. Works fine.
I became more acutely aware of the problem of plastic junk littering the planet when we visited Vietnam. We visited Halong Bay, a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site. Even in what appears at first to be a pristine landscape we saw plastic junk floating around in the water again and again.
Later on our trip our tour group went out on the Mekong River, and all along the shoreline, we saw plastic litter – a lot of plastic litter. This is not just a problem in far away parts of the world, though. Regular readers know I go on a lot of nature walks in parkland throughout the GTA. A trip does not go by when I do not see litter in these lovely areas.
The number one variety of litter I see on these walks is the ubiquitous plastic water bottle. This is followed closely by Tim Horton’s cups, which I’ve learned are not recyclable. In some parks, such as Sam Smith Park near our home, beer cans are in 3rd place.
There is also the problem of plastic over-packaging. How many times have you bought a small item packaged in a much larger chunk of plastic. It happens all the time, doesn’t it? I wonder how much packaging could be reduced if collectively we put our minds to it.
We have become habituated to using far too much plastic. To really reduce it, we’ll have to do some things differently and that kind of change is difficult and I have no doubt there will be costs attached to it. Many people will resist change and some will no doubt use the opportunity to attack the government for this initiative. I’ve already read Tweets suggesting it is an election ploy, and maybe it is, but still anything we can do to raise some awareness and begin to reduce the amount of plastic we are using has to be a good thing, don’t you think?