By North Columbia Environmental Society
The revelation that single-use plastics are terrible for the environment comes as a surprise to no one. Drop a plastic bag on your lawn and it could outlast every generation for five hundred to a thousand years.
Birds and marine life are dying with bellies full of garbage. Non-sinking discarded plastic (and other debris) are clumping together and travelling in literal garbage islands swirling along with the ocean currents. Pollutants from plastics have started to enter the human food chain. Microbeads are proving impressively problematic. Plastic is affecting more than the birds, turtles and whales scarfing it down; zooplankton have also fallen victim. This is scary stuff as zooplankton are the lowest living creature on the ocean food chain, and eating plastics is resulting in a shrinking population.
With ample evidence screaming “stop,” why are we still using single-use plastics? They are still being mass produced and consumed by a public that knows better but refuses to change its ways.
Let’s not pretend that our convenience is more important than the planet. There are several ways one can take charge and greatly diminish the use of single-use plastics. Buy a reusable water bottle, bring your own Tupperware when you order food to go and refuse the straw. Buy bulk and avoid items that are individually packed. Businesses can stop purchasing plastic cutlery and straws and styrofoam takeaway containers. Local stores can follow the example of Mountain Goodness Natural Foods or Le Marche Gourmet, and stop carrying plastic bags entirely.
There are local individuals and businesses doing their best to avoid single use plastics. The ‘Revelstoke’s Last Straw’ campaign, spearheaded by Tegan Dean of Birch and Lace Hair Company, has been embraced by the Taco Club and Dose Coffee.
“I realized how many places in town throw a straw in a drink, whether you asked for one or not,” Dean says. “With No Straw, I’m trying to encourage bars, restaurants and cafes to offer an alternative to plastic straws. Some places aren’t interested, so I ask every server and bartender who works in those places to ask customers if they want a straw. A lot of the time customers don’t.”
When The Modern Bakeshop started to carry straws, they invested in paper straws that break down easily. Mountain Meals offers glass straws for purchase. Big Mountain Kitchen and Linen offer various food wraps, bowl covers, reusable plastic bags, fabric bags and silicone Ziploc bags, rendering cling wrap unnecessary. Kidz on Main carries Go Green lunch containers and an assortment of water bottles. Bring in your own container to Birch and Lace Hair Company and fill up from their bulk biodegradable cleaners.
As Revelstokians, we take pride in the natural world surrounding us. Let’s help keep it that way by changing some of our bad habits for the better.