Plastic Awareness Campaign

Photo by the Jane Goodall Institute in New Zealand

Introduction 

The City of Victoria Youth Council’s Plastic Awareness Campaign was started by Matthew, Christine and Alex in the spring of 2019 to help share some important info on why we should all rethink the plastic we are consuming in order to protect our planet. 

Plastic has become one of the leading environmental issues on Earth! We believe it is up to all of us to make the necessary changes needed to end our constant consumption of single-use plastic. 

We see the potential for large-scale change in the CRD. The BC Supreme Court ruled in favour of the City of Victoria’s by-law banning single-use plastic bags in June of 2018. This is a great step towards creating a more sustainable city – with the plastic bag ban representing only the beginning of what’s both possible and necessary!

We understand that the research surrounding plastic can feel overwhelming.
We’re here to help.  We’ve collected data and assembled a master-list of resources that we feel can help make our plastic problem more easily digestible. Our group has also developed a sustainable living guide to show some simple steps that we can all make to create a more positive impact in our community! 

We plan to distribute the guide (and a poster-version of it) to local businesses, community centres and schools in the CRD. You can find a downloadable pdf version here. 

Research

We have a lot of questions surrounding plastic.
How long does plastic stick around? (+1,000 years) How much plastic is generated every year in Victoria? (Over 17 million plastic bags used – CBC article). How much has been generated on the planet? (+8.3 billion tonnes)How has plastic become so entrenched in our everyday lives? (Video) Read on to find more answers. 

This graph from Hartland Landfill outside of Victoria shows that plastics make up about 13.1% of the solid waste accumulated in our community. However, it is estimated that less than 11% of all plastics are recycled in Canada. Almost 90% end up in our landfills, lakes/oceans or incinerated (which creates some of the most dangerous emissions on Earth). 

How long does plastic stick around?
Petroleum-based plastics don’t decompose the same way organic material can. Plastic items like single-use plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill – while leaking pollutants into our soil and water systems. 

What Can We Do To Help? 

  • Reducing plastic consumption
  • Alternatives to plastic 
  • Support brands that care, Encourage other brands to take action, etc. 
  • Sign this petition (and ones like it to help protect our oceans/encourage world leaders to act on climate!) 

Resources

Our ‘Bad For Your Brand’ account on Twitter shares up-to-date information on plastic pollution, the brands that are enabling it, climate change and more!

Sustainability Guide
(Be sure to include local brands that offer plastic alternatives: Beeswax wraps, Zero Waste Emporium, etc.)

Plastics Poster

Websites:

Green Peace – Break Free from Plastic 

Our World in Data – Plastic Pollution

https://ourworldindata.org/plastic-pollution

Biological Diversity’s Sustainability Tips

https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/population_and_sustainability/sustainability/live_more_sustainably.html
Videos:
Reducing Single-Use Plastic at the Local Level https://youtu.be/-BQp9XOPrUc
The Story of Stuff – Plastics/Bottled Water https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Se12y9hSOM0 

Plastic Free Mermaid
http://iquitplastics.com/ 

Tiny Trash Can 

Conclusion 

We understand that there is still so much to do when it comes to creating an awareness around plastic that has a lasting impact. 

Here is a list of our plans going forward: 

  • Encouraging policy changes Victoria’s ‘Ban the Bag’ to spread across Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada and worldwide! 
  • Creating a larger plastic ban that includes all types of single-use plastic (styrofoam, cutlery, etc.) and while offering reusable options. 
  • We’d like to see brands that are fighting against single-use plastic celebrated! 
  • Awards displayed in local businesses that are plastic free 
  • An annual ‘Plastic Free Victoria’ event to bring together active community members

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