Meet BETTY. She is a seagull with an enormous appetite. She reminds us that plastic in the environment is a huge risk to animals who, like her, mistakenly consume plastic as if it were food.
Betty has become an environmental activist. She is working hard to raise awareness about the dangers of single use plastic that end up in our streets, parks, forests, oceans, lakes and rivers. Each year millions of birds and other marine species die from ingesting plastic that we use once and then throw away. Here are five simple things we can do to replace plastic, protect the environment, and make Betty happy!
Plastic water bottles – This is a big one. The Ottawa-based Polaris Institute says 86% of empty plastic water bottles are not recycledin Ontario. The solution is simple; ban plastic water bottles and get yourself a classy reusable bottle. Added bonus – think of the money you’ll save!
Coffee Shop Choices – If it’s coffee to go, use your own travel mug. When it’s to meet and chat with friends in the coffee shop, shun the disposable paper cup with a plastic lid and ask for your coffee in one of their mugs.
Grocery Bags – Make it a habit to always have a good supply of reusable bags when grocery shopping. Your favourite grocery store will appreciate the free publicity when you use their bags or you can easily make your own. Another good move is to have a supply of small reusable bags for produce. Again, you can make your own or buy them at the Nu Store, Ottawa’s first zero waste store for all kinds of reusable and no waste products.
Restaurants and Pubs– Let’s start with fast food take out places that use a lot of plastic and styrofoam. You can make a difference when you politely refuse their plastic utensils and use your own. Or, invest in a Spork, a combo fork and spoon you can find at online and local stores. When dining out, even in fancy restaurants, tell the waiter to hold the straw that comes with your favourite beverage. Stainless steel reusable straws are the new way to go. At the end of the meal give the waiter the reusable container you brought from home for the leftovers. Note: Scientists estimate that styrofoam and plastic bags take from 500 years to forever to break down.
Cleaning Products– The selection of cleaning products (all in plastic containers) is overwhelming. You can clear the clutter and protect the environment by reducing your cleaning supplies to two basic products: vinegar and baking soda. Google will be happy to show you all the things you can do with these two miracle workers.
In 2019, a sub-committee of OSEAN developed this anti-plastics pamphlet to help our neighbours reconsider how they use plastics and simple things they can do to reduce and refuse plastic in their everyday lives. We encourage you to share our pamphlet and whenever you are in a store, ready to make a purchase, ask yourself, “what would Betty the gull do?” (WWBD).
SINGLE USE PLASTIC…..IT’S TIME TO GET TOUGH!
Grocery Store Outreach
As part of OSEAN’s outreach on anti-plastics we drafted a letter and approached different grocery stores in our local wards to share our concerns about the use of single use plastics in their stores. The letter also gave them a variety of implementable solutions. This letter can be customized so you can use it to approach a store in your neighbourhood. We found the best way to accomplish this is to call ahead and speak to the manager (if possible.. they can be elusive). We encourage you to bring a similar letter to one of your favourite stores that you would like to see reduce their reliance on plastic! Don’t worry that we might have already approached them. It’s a great reminder to businesses that there are multiple groups and citizens who all want the same thing!