We’re finally seeing a trend in the anti-plastic movement and are heading towards a “waste-free” society. Restaurants and cafes no longer giving out straws has been a massive shift. Re-usable water bottles and coffee containers are also readily available for purchase to banish the never-ending cycle of plastic water bottles and wax-coated cups that will outlive you on this planet. But it all begs the question: are these small steps even making a dent in the issue?
I’ve been on a waste-free journey for many years now, though it has an extreme learning curve with plenty of obstacles. Our society has developed an addiction to convenience and mindless purchasing. An article posted by CBC in April states that we’re producing 300-million tonnes of plastic each year but very little of that is plastic straws. And since the 1950’s, we’ve produced over 8-billion tonnes of the stuff with over 6-billion of those tonnes becoming waste.
In my opinion, banning straws is a step in the right direction, because at least people are starting to recognize—on a smaller scale—that disposable plastics shouldn’t be used so irresponsibly. Something you use for only a couple minutes will sit on our planet for a minimum of a few centuries, since they are rarely recycled. The experts in the fight against this environmental catastrophe are evidently very supportive of the changes at hand, but the banning of straws is just a speck of snow on the larger invasive iceberg. Rob Opsomer, a leader in the UK conservation movement, says, "Given they are such a tiny fraction of the overall market, we cannot stop at straws. We need to rethink the entire plastics industry." That being said, what is the next step for the Average Joe?
I’m positive that all of us in the millennial generation can remember the famous jingle, “Reduce, reuse, recycle.” But over the years the 3R’s have been rethought, and two more R’s have been added to the gang: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repurpose. For example, instead of buying a new dishwasher when a part needs replacing, just get the new part!
Instead of buying a case of bottled water at Costco every week, splurge on a Contigo water bottle while you’re there and save thousands of dollars for yourself and spare the ocean some breathing room while you’re at it. Refusing to use disposable plastics will set everything in motion towards a cleaner, greener Earth. If everyone got on board, big-box stores would be forced to supply us with eco-friendly products at a reasonable price—the cycle won’t end until we come together as a whole. Movements like the straw ban is just the start, and a very good one at that, but there needs to be more—from all of us.
I could go on for another four thousand words, but our attention spans deserve the ability to click another link. There are plenty of resources available, and I’m one of them! For more information on what you can do I’ve provided some insightful sources online, but don’t hesitate to ask me a question either; it helps me on my journey too.
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Chloe Vincent is an avid reader, aspiring writer, and lover of culture. Being in her second year of Professional Writing at Algonquin College and a new mother there’s always another step to take to get further. Check out her children’s book “The Life of a Pie” at the Connections store and always check back here for more.