Garden Clippings for March 17, 2018
What did I give up for Lent?
For those not familiar, Lent is the 40-day period of fasting and preparation leading up to Easter celebration. Many Christians use the time of Lent to give up a luxury of sorts. Often it is a food item that’s given up, such as chocolate, alcohol, donuts, meat, or potato chips. I’ve never really been much of an adherent to the practice although I once committed to staying away from coffee for Lent, but only lasted a few days.
After hearing the news lately of China refusing to accept our plastic containers, I joined a few friends in giving up plastic for Lent. Yes, plastic.
In our day and age, where so much of our consumables in North America are wrapped in plastic packaging, trying to live without plastic is impossible. Nonetheless, I figured any attempts to reduce my own plastic consumption for 40 days would be a good exercise in building awareness.
Single use water containers are the worst offender. David Suzuki could rattle off a litany of nasty facts and figures relating to our love affair for bottled water, the most startling of which is that North Americans consume 1 million bottles per minute. Only 20 % of these bottles are recycled. It is estimated that it takes 400 to 1000 years for a bottle to biodegrade, far longer than we have known plastic to even exist.
Buying a single use bottle of water from a vending machine is nothing less than ludicrous. Going back to your kitchen tap several times to refill a reusable bottle costs less than a penny.
In Canada, about 20% of our plastics recyclables land up in China. In the USA, where there appears to be less concern about the environment, about 50% of recyclable plastics are shipped to China. That’s fine and dandy for Americans because boatloads of USA bound shipping containers from China would otherwise go back home emptyhanded.
Going green involves much more than cutting down on plastic bottles. As of Jan 1, 2018, Montreal has imposed a ban on single use plastic bags, and Victoria, British Columbia, the provincial leader in reduction of plastic consumption, follows suit On July 31. The topic has also reached Halifax City Council.
In spite of all we know about wise use of valuable resources, our affection for plastic bags remains bewildering. In Toronto, the 2009 compulsory 5 cent price tag for single use plastic bags was reversed when Rob Ford became the city’s Mayor. But many grocery stores chose to stick with the policy, in part because selling plastic bags was in fact profitable.
Some day, hopefully soon, we will come to the realization that our overconsumption of plastics needs to come to an end.