Head of Oceans & Plastics, Greenpeace Canada
It can seem that 2020 has been one uphill battle after another, and the state of the plastic waste and pollution crisis is no exception. While the use, disposal, and pollution of various types of plastics have risen significantly during the pandemic, we don’t have to stay on this path. There are individuals, communities, and businesses working to reduce our collective plastic footprint who continue to accelerate zero-waste solutions across Canada.
There’s been a lot of misinformation about the role that plastic and packaging play in health and safety. To set the record straight, earlier this year, more than 125 public health experts from around the world signed a statement reassuring businesses and consumers that reusable packaging and reuse systems are safe to use during the pandemic with basic sanitation protocols. They also confirmed that plastic is not inherently safer, neither for packaging nor PPE. Reuse systems create opportunities for consumers to get their goods and service needs met while reducing their reliance on plastic packaging and other disposables.
It’s tough for consumers to dodge plastic packaging, but when faced with choices, choose companies that offer reusable, refillable, or unpackaged alternatives. Don’t buy false claims of recyclability or greener throwaway options. Companies need to rethink the way they deliver their products, because the world can no longer recycle its way out of this plastic mess. Above all, consumers need to use their voices to request that the businesses they frequent don’t just swap out one kind of single-use item for another, but instead create zero-waste options for their customers.