To celebrate their first anniversary, Plastic-Free YYC hosted a holiday mixer Dec. 1 to remind Calgarians of where hidden plastics lurk.
Cans, gift wrap, soaps with microbeads, ribbons and many clothing fabrics like polyester and nylon are just some of the products containing plastic.
The non-profit organization works to inspire Calgarians by collaborating with businesses and encouraging government leaders to make changes that will beneficially impact the environment.
“Our major goal is to stop waste before it even begins, so teaching people how to just say no to something that might be wasteful before they even use it,” says Briana Loughlin, co-founder of Plastic-Free YYC.
The mixer featured live music, booths from different organizations and a silent auction full of waste-free products or services.
Some tips for plastic-free living include:
1. Use old or spare fabric to wrap gifts
Boomerang Bags YYC showed passersby how cloth, a scarf or a blanket could be used to wrap a gift box instead of using wrapping paper that contains plastic.
“You just take some old fabric, or some used fabric or spare fabric and you can wrap your gift really simply and it’s just like a simple elegant way to wrap something without adding any completely useless waste,” says Evan Loughlin, a participant at the event and brother of Briana Loughlin.
According to waste reduction week in Canada, 40 per cent of plastic waste is from packaging.
2. Use a metal straw
Metal straws are a great way to reduce plastic. While convenient, they are somewhat challenging to clean, but users, like Evan Loughlin, say they’re worth it.
Loughlin remembers packing for a trip to Thailand and his sister giving him a metal straw to use during his time there.
“I was like, ‘Ah, okay … this is stupid I’m going to have to carry this mental straw around everywhere,’ but I actually used it so much and I loved it,” he says.
3. Bring your own cup to stores and restaurants
Around 1.6 to 2 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown out yearly in Canada according to Canadian Geographic.
Laura Hudson, a participant at the event, is trying to decrease her use of disposable cups by always carrying her travel mug.
“I think [plastic and wastes are] something that we have just become immune to as a society, but I think the more we become mindful of it I think … everyone’s capable of kind of doing their part,” says Hudson.
4. Use bar soap and refillable or bar deodorant
Many hand soaps contain plastic microbeads which end up in the drainage system. Using bar soap can both eliminate the soap container and the microbeads within the soap itself.
Hudson also reuses deodorant containers.
“You can just refill [them] and you don’t have to keep using the plastic with deodorant bars,” says Hudson.
5. Use newspaper bags to line garbage bins
Manashri Shejwalkar started following Plastic-Free YYC six months ago after reading a blog post urging people to pick trash polluting the environment. Since then, she’s discovered many ways to cut down her use of plastic.
“I’m already trying to reduce waste but then you also have to line the bin with the plastic bag. So, I learned how to make a paper bag out of newspaper that I could use for the general dry waste in the bathroom,” Shejwalkar says.
Briana Loughlin says the Plastic-Free YYC movement is for everyone.
“It's for somebody who is living in poverty. It's for someone who is really rich. It's for, you know, a new Canadian or a Calgarian who has lived here all their lives. It's for everyone.”
There are many different tricks to being more environmentally friendly such as:
- Reusable produce bags
- Compostable toothbrushes and dental floss
- Make your own beans or salad dressing
- Switch to safety razors
- Use beeswax wraps instead of plastic wrap
- By Hailey Payne