Did you know there are patches of plastic garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean that are larger in area than the province of British Columbia? The marine pollution in the Pacific, which is constantly changing in size and location, has been dubbed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Efforts are being made to determine feasible ways to clean up this marine pollution, but the only true solution is to stop it at the source.
Plastic is a wonderful invention and provides many essential products for us to use, but far too often we reach for plastic products because they are cheap and convenient. The true costs of plastics are not shown on their price tags. The environmental costs in the form of pollution and the health costs to all organisms that absorb the chemicals in plastics need to be considered. When purchasing items for personal use or for gifts, take a moment to consider if a non-plastic option would be a better selection.
Single-use plastics have become so acceptable in our society that it takes effort to ensure you are not using or purchasing them. Try to remember to decline a straw, plastic bag, or disposable utensil when you are making purchases. Take the time to find out what kind of packaging protects the new product you are purchasing. The effort is worth it. Making a point of asking not to have these items will help this practice become a habit and will set an example for others to follow.
Windblown litter is difficult to control, but it should only be an issue at a landfill. Urban and rural landscapes have measures in place to contain waste and should be used at all times. Tips around litter are simple: Don’t Do It. When it happens, do your part to pick it up. Organize a neighbourhood clean-up or take a pair of gloves and a bag in your back pocket while taking the dog for a walk. Don’t pass over small items like bottle caps and lighters; these are the items that can easily make their way to the ocean.
Some plastics are hard to avoid and end up in our hands for disposal, so it is important to recycle what you can. Did you know plastic bags and over wrap are accepted at recycling depots? For plastics that are not recyclable in your area, make sure they end up in the garbage. Just because a plastic item has a recycling symbol does not mean it can go to the depot or curbside collection. Call the Recycling BC Hotline at 1-800-667-4321, visit rcbc.ca, or get the BC Recyclepedia App to check if an item can be recycled.
We all have the ability to change our waste handling habits for the better. Join the Cariboo Regional District this year to become waste wise and be part of the solution:
* Seek out non-plastic alternatives wherever possible;
* Avoid single-use plastics like straws, bottles, utensils, plastic bags, and packaging;
* Properly throw away your garbage, rather than littering;
* Help pick up litter – especially the small items that can end up in our storm drains; and,
* Be sure to recycle or properly dispose of the plastics you use.
Learn more by following us on Facebook at facebook.com/caribooregion, visiting us online at cariboord.ca, or looking for our waste wise articles in your local paper. For more information on the Waste Wise Program call (250) 398-7929 or find details on Waste Wise activities and events at ccconserv.org.