As both Canadians and Global Citizens, we are currently facing a crisis when it comes to waste and recycling. Our oceans are full of plastics. Our landfills are overflowing. Our recycling is contaminated, and we are limited on processing opportunities!
Recently, news headlines have been focused on this crisis, and it’s impossible to miss…
- A recent autopsy found 17 pounds of plastic inside the belly of a whale who was washed ashore in Thailand.
- China used to be the world’s largest importer of recycling, but has now refused to accept 24 types of scrap recycling, and will only accept recycling loads with less than 0.5 % contamination.
- Vietnam has announced they are temporarily banning the import of scrap plastics, eliminating another potential processing market for our plastics recycling
- Canadians are recycling “wrong,” contaminating loads with non-recyclable materials, and it is costing us millions!
These are just a few of the key stories our industry is dealing with right now, as we face a turning point in how we, as Canadians, handle our recycling. As we become more and more responsible for our own waste, we must also make the choice to be accountable for our actions. Our MASS team is always working to make better decisions on behalf of the environment, and we have found a few key sustainable steps that we can each take in our personal lives in order to generate less waste and ensure the impact we will inevitably have is a positive one!
If you are lucky enough to have a green bin program in your community, we implore you to utilize it! If you do not, however, there are alternative options. At MASS, we process our food scraps utilizing a Food Cycler. This unit is small (about the size of a breadmaker!) and fits on your kitchen counter. We collect our food scraps throughout the day, and when the container is full, we close the lid, and press the button. 3-5 hours later, we have a nutrient rich soil amendment that we use in our gardens! There is no odour, and it is a quick and easy way to ensure we do not send our food-scraps to landfill where they will break down in an unhealthy way, creating methane gas and contributing to climate change.
We know this one is a classic, and most people have already taken this step forward. Even still, we cannot emphasize it enough! Plastic grocery bags are causing a major issue for our environment as they fill up our landfills (with an extremely long lifespan), and they often find their way to our oceans where they harm and kill marine life. Ensuring you always have a collection of reusable grocery bags in the trunk of your car will mean you never arrive at the grocery store and realize you’ve forgotten them at home. If we all do this together, it adds up to make a huge difference to protect our wildlife and environment.
We completely understand how convenient plastic food wrap is. It can be hard to give up. But when you see the images of sea birds suffocated by plastic wrap enveloping their heads, this is a huge wake-up call. There are better alternatives, including a beeswax based reusable wrap. This is available for purchase through plenty of online retailers and many local stores as well. We promise if you source it out, you won’t regret making the swap!
Another swap many of our team members has made is purchasing reusable mesh produce bags for their fruits and veggies. Now, when we go to the grocery store, we all use these reusable bags instead of the plastic ones provided in the produce department. An additional bonus to these is that they tend to keep our fruits and veggies fresher for longer, which means less food-waste, while eliminating the excess plastic from our environment.
Listen – We get it! It can be hard to remember to bring your travel mug with you everywhere you go. But our landfills are full of the non-recyclable wax-coated coffee cups, lids, and stir sticks that are sold at most retail coffee chains. If you’re like us, you probably drink a lot of coffee, and throwing a travel mug (they even sell collapsible options to make it even more convenient) in your bag will allow you to have a huge impact in the long run. Just remember when going through a drive-thru to mention that you will be using your own mug, so that way they wait until you get to the window to pour!
Most take-out containers at restaurants are made out of a type of plastic that holds little-to-no value as a recycling commodity. We have to remember that with recycling, the material is only truly ‘recyclable’ if there is actually a market for it … In other words, there needs to be a customer out there who is willing to buy the material to recycle and reuse it. Materials like styrofoam and black plastic are tough to process, making them essentially worthless in the recycling market. We encourage you to pick-up some re-usable containers and take them with you when you head out to eat. Not only will this eliminate the non-recyclable materials from our waste stream, but it will also help you to eliminate food-waste by not sending your leftovers to landfill.
As a team, we’ve become committed to asking for ‘no straw’ when we go out to eat. Straws go to landfill, and often end up in our oceans or other places where they do not belong. They are so dangerous to marine life and other animals, and it is a product that most of truly don’t ‘need.’ This is such an easy step that can make the world of a difference. We encourage you to do the same!
At MASS, we always say that change begins with just one step. None of us are going to do everything right all at once. It’s about taking one small step at a time to create a larger difference. If you could choose even one of the above sustainable steps to take today, it will make a difference. We all have an impact on Mother Earth. It is our choice if that’s a positive or a negative one.
What are you doing to eliminate excess plastics and other waste from your daily life? Comment below and let us know!