Wednesday, January 9, 2019

In 2019, Show Leadership in Reducing Your Plastic Waste

Edmontonians have been diverting plastic waste from landfills since 1988. In fact, curbside recycling collection turned 20, this past year. Happy birthday blue bag! This has been an important and successful way to conserve resources and keep waste out of landfills. Many Edmontonians have mastered the art of recycling and, for most of us, it has become a part of our way of life.

As with many recyclable materials, the cost of recycling the material is high and the value of the final product is relatively low. It is often more sensible to downcycle plastic rather than recycle it. We produce and use far more plastic than is sensible and the cost of plastic pollution isn’t reflected in the price we pay. Good conduct around the consumption of plastic safeguards a clean and healthy environment for future generations. Make 2019 the year you show leadership in reducing your plastic waste!

Globally, China has been recycling plastic waste for many countries, including Canada. But in 2018, China stopped accepting as much material. Projections suggest that by 2030 over 100 tonnes of plastic waste will have nowhere to go! Handling this material is going to be a huge challenge for our nation. That waste is going to end up in our landfills, be burned into the atmosphere, or flow into waste water systems in our countryside. It is our duty to take action.

So What Can You Do?

The most effective way to reduce plastic waste is cutting single-use items out of your life. These are items designed to be used once and then go to waste, like straws and cereal bags. These are the plastic products that are easiest to give up, and have the biggest impact. Other materials are tougher but not impossible to reduce.Take the plastic-free-challenge!

Some Easy Ideas

1. Shop in bulk, using your own refillable containers. Bulk Barn, Earth’s General Store, and Carbon Environmental Boutique all have products you can refill.

2. Swap out plastic containers/cling wrap for tiffins and abeego or homemade reusable wraps.

Make your own cling wrap using bees wax and a few other, inexpensive ingredients. 

3. Green your caffeine. Brew loose tea rather than individually wrapped tea bags. Skip K-cups and Nespresso pods for pour-over, drip, or french press coffee. Look up minimal waste coffee brewing ideas here.

4. Try cloth menstrual pads or underwear if you have periods. Thinx, Lunapads, and Hannahpads are all over the internet. If tampons are your preferred hygiene product, choose ones without applicators, or consider a DivaCup.

5. Bring non-plastic shopping bags. I love Credo Bags as a Canadian option for bags for produce, general shopping, as well as storage. My favourite part is being able to wash them easily unlike the plastic-coated offerings in most grocery stores.

Check out communities that talk about zero waste since much of their advice will apply to reducing plastic. You can also check out Life Without Plastic from the Edmonton Public Library for suggestions and to learn more.

See also:

Zero Waste Shopping Guide: Alberta

Available at EPL: Life Without Plastic - The Practical Step-by-Step Guide ... 

About the contributor: Leah joined the MCR ranks in May of 2014. She believes that urban environments offer a real opportunity to make the world increasingly sustainable. Favoured topics include composting, urban design, and (now) minimalism. 


  1. Excellent job, Leah! And thanks for all the links to ways we can reduce plastic even more!

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