Another incredible Pride weekend in Toronto has come and gone. All the colours of the rainbow filled Church St. as people everywhere flocked to the city in celebration of the history, courage, and diversity of the LGBTQ+ community. But this year, there was another message to celebrate too – sustainability, and we were proud to be a part of it.

 

Banner above the subway entrance reads Love is Love in colours
#LoveIsLove at Yonge-Dondas Square, Photo by Nick Laferriere

 

This year Pride’s organizers were taking steps to recognize that a healthy community relies on a healthy environment, and they invited us along to be part of that change. We worked with local Toronto artist Rebecca Jane Houston to create an interactive sculpture made from over 12,000 used plastic bottles.  That’s the amount thrown away every four minutes in Ontario.

 

Team Water among the sea of plastic bottles
Photo by Nick Laferriere

 

Ontario has a huge, and growing plastic pollution problem, and we desperately need to do something about it. As one of only two provinces in Canada without a deposit return program for plastic bottles (the other is Manitoba), we have the lowest plastic bottle recycling rate in the country! In fact, Ontario only recycles half of its single-used plastic bottles. That means, 1.5 billion bottles are not being recycled, and instead end up in landfills, waterways and often the Great Lakes.  

 


For more information, and to learn how you can help stop these bottles flowing into our waterways, check out our Cash it! Don’t trash it! campaign and sign the petition asking for Ontario to implement a deposit return program for plastic bottles.


 

Where did all these bottles come from?

For four days we offered people in the GTA 10 cents for every single-use plastic bottle they delivered to us, and before we knew it, we had nearly 30,000 used plastic bottles. All the bottles that didn’t make it into the sculpture were properly recycled, of course.

 

photo of the canoe resting on a sea of bottles
“Over Our Head” – Photo by Nick Laferriere

 

Pride goers were impressed, shocked, disturbed and in awe of what they were seeing. Being confronted by the mountain of plastic bottles thrown away in Ontario every four minutes is overwhelming!

 

Where next for Ontario’s plastic pollution problem?

The good news is there are things you can do to help us turn this plastic tide:

  1. Buy a reusable stainless steel water bottle and avoid buying single-use plastic bottles
  2. Sign and share our petition asking Ontario to implement a deposit return program for plastic bottles
  3. Sign our and share our petition asking Canada to take action on plastic pollution and get us to zero plastic waste by 2025
  4. Make a charitable donation to help us continue to tackle plastic pollution

The conversations we had at Pride left us feeling confident that Ontarians see the big picture. They’re interested in learning about the solutions and are ready to see change in order to protect our environment, waterways, and the Great Lakes.

We’re proud and thankful to have participated in Toronto Pride this year and look forward to participating in years to come as they transition towards a zero plastic waste future.

 

Didn’t get a chance to see the sculpture? No worries, it will live on at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada later this summer, so be sure to check it out!

 

 

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