Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Going Plastic-Free is Tough

by Candice Keast

Canadians use between 9 and 15 billion plastic bags a year - that's enough to circle the globe a whopping 55 times. And that's a lot of oil being used to make single-use bags that are discarded a few minutes after use. Going plastic-free can be a challenge - and that's no joke. Plastic is everywhere.

In July, thousands of Torontonians, including staff here at the City of Toronto, took the Plastic-Free July Pledge. As you could probably guess, this was no easy feat. Our struggle was seriously real but we did our best – and ended up making quite a difference. Gold stars for all!

Over 200 City of Toronto staff took the pledge and in the process became more conscious about just how ubiquitous plastic is. While it's relatively easy to find reusable shopping bags, water bottles, and coffee tumblers, other reusable items were a bit harder to come by. Fortunately there are many participating Live Green Perks businesses who sell these products and offer exclusive deals for members. We listed some of these in a previous blog post.

In a follow-up survey with staff, we learned that plastic (including Styrofoam trays) at the supermarket were the hardest to avoid. I personally found that it was easy to get tripped up by the little things, like that time I was in the checkout line and did a triple take at the little plastic window in my cardboard box of pasta, all the time with a sinking feeling that there would be no pasta for dinner (there wasn't).

In the table below (after the jump), I've summarized feedback from City staff, including some of challenges they faced. Additionally, you'll see some tips on where these items should go when you are finished with them.