The planet isn’t single use – Canada

Posted on March 13, 2023 by DrRossH in Plastic Limiting Regulations, Plastic Recycling


It’s our responsibility to build on the momentum generated by Canada’s single-use plastic ban. 

The plastic lobby is challenging the federal government’s ban on single-use plastic products that went into effect in late 2022, claiming the decision is under provincial jurisdiction(link is external) as the provinces are responsible for waste management. 

Of course, this claim is transparent. It’s an excuse to challenge a move that could positively impact our environment because it might negatively impact the profitability of the giant companies contributing most to plastic pollution. 

If the ban was reversed based on the technicality of provincial jurisdiction, it would be a perfect example of why we’re in a climate crisis. We can’t afford to get caught up in legal stuff—single-use plastic needs to go. Fortunately, Canadians largely support(link is external) banning single-use plastic, so it looks like Big Plastic executives won’t be getting much sympathy. 

You’ve heard of Big Tech and Big Oil, but there’s also a Big Plastic. The level of plastic pollution around the world is not just an environmental crisis, but a public health crisis, too. Microplastics are accumulating inside our bodies, posing potential health risks(link is external)as the waste from plastic production pollutes water systems. 

As encouraging as it is to finally see some single-use plastic banned, we can’t let it become an excuse not to push for further climate action. Alternatives to things like plastic grocery bags need to be real, sustainable solutions.

Mass-produced “reusable” bags that grocery chains charge for aren’t a great replacement, especially if you’re prone to forgetting yours at home. You have to use a reusable bag about 20 times(link is external) for it to be better than a single-use one.

It’s frustrating how grocery companies make consumers buy reusable bags only to turn around and create more waste. Instead, we should find ways to share bags or bring them back to the store for a refund, like the deposit on bottles and cans. 

If we’re really trying to live sustainably, we need community-based solutions that reward cooperative approaches to reducing waste. 

The dirty looks from fellow shoppers when we forget our reusable bags aren’t necessarily a bad thing. This reaction indicates an important social shift: people are condemning unsustainability and making progress into a better mindset position. A little bit of shame can go a long way when it comes to encouraging more sustainable choices. 

All levels of government should be working to implement measures to promote sustainability. When it comes to doing what’s best for our natural environment, it’s silly to get caught up in questions of jurisdiction. We should ask ourselves what we can build into our current system to force people to make sustainable choices since the urgency of the climate crisis apparently isn’t enough to change their habits.

When we do come across single-use plastic products, we must reuse them whenever possible. While most of us aren’t sustainability professionals, being conscious of our carbon footprints and contribution to pollution is better than apathy. 

It’s easy to say we want to live sustainably, but it’s harder to make the sacrifices necessary to change our lifestyles. Imperfect solutions are better than no solutions at all—banning single-use plastic is just the tip of the melting iceberg.