Co-written by Michelle Woodhouse, Water Program Manager
It’s common knowledge that the oceans are filling up with plastic, but did you know that there is a higher concentration of plastic pollution in the Great Lakes than in the ocean garbage patches?
People have lived and gathered around the Great Lakes for millennia. For most of that time, they were pristine sources of water, food, transportation and wonder. But while the Lakes continue to provide life and pleasure to millions of people, they are struggling. That’s why, this Plastic Free July, we’ve decided to put the focus on the Great Lakes.
They’re too often used as waste dumps for human-made chemicals, including plastics. Researchers estimate that some 10,000 tonnes of plastic are dumped into the Great Lakes every year. That’s the weight of the Eiffel Tower!
Canada’s single-use plastic bans, which will start to come into force by the end of this year, are a good start since they will eliminate some of the most common and recognizable plastics found in the lakes: bags, six-pack rings, straws, stir sticks, cutlery and takeout containers.
But there are many more harmful and unnecessary plastic products that need to go. You may have a list in your head already, but here are a few that should be high on the government’s priority list to #ExpandTheBans:
- Single-use takeout cups and lids for things like coffee
- shrink wrap that needlessly bundles products together to entice you to buy more
- the stand-up pouches that are replacing jars and boxes to hold everything from frozen veggies to crackers and olives
- single-serve packets for things like ketchup and shampoo
- Produce bags
These are not recyclable and there are alternatives, including reusable containers and products that the government must support.
The government must ensure that whatever plastics are still used contain a high degree of recycled material, can be safely reused over and over again and finally recycled when they can no longer serve a useful purpose.
That’s why this Plastic Free July, we’re calling on the federal government to keep up the fight against plastic pollution by:
- Banning more harmful single-use plastics
- Supporting reusable packaging as the best alternative
- Protecting our rivers, lakes and oceans from plastic manufacturing pellets
Watch for Part 2 of this Plastic Free July blog series, where we shine a light on the plastic pollution in the Great Lakes that’s harder to see and identify. And keep your eyes on our social media for more opportunities to take action this month!