Easter’s Hidden Treasures

before-after

Rodolphe and I found them all. On a beautiful, sunny Easter morning, my boyfriend Rodolphe and I were going on an Easter hunt. But we weren’t hunting hidden eggs. We were hunting hidden trash. And the Easter Bunny must have had a lot of help, because he cannot possibly throw that much garbage into the bushes by itself!

 

Easter bunny aside, it was a very revealing Easter egg hunt and a very satisfying at that. Besides dozens of plastic Starbucks cups (no surprise here — demand a #bettercup), chips bags, and candy wrappers, we rid the environment of an LA cap, 2 frisbees, a soccer ball, a football, and pieces of a basket ball. Only a puck was missing to cover equipment of all popular sports in North America.

 

The highlight, however, was when some neighbours called the police on us, because what we did looked suspicious to them. I couldn’t help but wonder if they ever call the police on those who throw the trash into the bushes in the first place, because that is actually illegal. We just laughed it off and continued on our goal to fill all garbage bags that we had brought and found along the way. After three hours, we had collected one little bag of reusables, six bags of recycling and two bags of garbage. I don’t think anyone who went hunting for Easter eggs that day could compete with our output. What about you? Are you ready to compete for that title?

What’s next?

If you’re now all fired up and eager to get involved in big-scale clean-up actions, get in touch with Let’s Do It! and find out more about how you can help.

 

And if you want to take this even further (and who wouldn’t?), get your company involved as well. Show Starbucks, Tim Hortons, Lays, and other polluters how it’s done and lead the way to a Zero Waste world! Reach out to Zero Waste Canada to learn more about how you can minimize your environmental footprint and if you meet the criteria, you might even get certified to show off your Zero Waste commitment for the world, your customers, and your competitors to see.

The time for change is now. If you snooze, we all lose.

Guest blog post : this week Zero Waste Canada member Connie Reichelsdorfer owner of Sunny Start-up Marketing shares her special Easter story showing you can have fun and do good things. Zero Waste Canada welcomes guest blog posts about Zero Waste experiences…and we always welcome new Zero Waste Canada members.

Crowdsource clean up :Mapping illegal dumpsites

trash-193355_640Mapping illegal dumpsites, litter and plastic pollution is a method that allows individuals to be environmental activists.

Mapping sites where illegal dumping, litter or plastic pollution is a problem brings a dirty secret into the public forum. It not only documents location, type and amount of materials but it helps to organize logistics for clean up. Mapping helps track reoccurring issues, and also it helps us to analyse the causes of waste not being disposed or recycled properly. Mapping also shows the real extent of the problem.

TrashOut is a smartphone app that enables users to actively take part in documenting the illegal dumps by uploading pictures and GPS data, which can then be verified and reported to the appropriate local authorities. It is an app used by Let’sDo It Movement and it is a tool to create a global map of illegal dumpsites.

Comox -Strathcona Waste Management Service (Comox Valley Regional District) as a means of engaging citizens to combat illegal dumping have created a facebook page “Keep Our Region Beautiful” and encourage citizens to download the TrashOut app to their phones.

To use the TrashOut app first the app can be downloaded to a cell phone and then report or confirm illegal dumpsite in your region. While mapping you don’t even need reception. Once the location of the garbage is mapped, it will be possible for us to see the locations, type, and size of the most troubling dumping areas around the world. Illegal dumpsite pictures that contain people, personal information or car registration may be rejected or blurred. TrashOut, also recommends that you share our pictures on facebook and twitter.

Litterati is mapping litter around the world and the types of litter. Geotags pinpoint the pieces of litter worldwide. An app can be downloaded through itunes. They call this crowdsource cleaning of the planet.

The Global Microplastics Initiative  enlist citizen volunteers  to take water samples while having outdoor adventures including hiking, snowboarding and canoeing. Adventure Scientists is the nonprofit organization collecting data for The Global Microplastics Initiative. Their mission is includes recruiting and training individuals with strong outdoor skills so that they can bring back hard to obtain data from far corners of the globe. The “adventurers” then become informed ambassadors as they retell the stories of their experiences.

The purpose of The Global Microplastics Initiative is to build one of the largest, most geographically diverse data sets on microplastic pollution to date.  In addition to publication in a scientific journal, this work will be used to inform decision makers about the realities of microplastic pollution globally, offer insights which may guide and inspire innovative solutions from individuals and corporations, and can be built upon by future research.

Taking part in global environmental actions is getting easier.

Global Clean Up – Let’s Do It

20110721_lets_do_it_logo_convertedCanadians would you like to be part of a global clean up day? On September 8, 2018 a massive civic movement to clean up litter and garbage around the globe is planned by Let’s Do It.

The Let’s Do It movement started in 2007, when a group of individuals in Estonia noticing the problem of garbage was being dumped in their beautiful forests decided to make a difference. They organized a countrywide clean up event for one day. They were able by partnering with 500 Estonian organizations to create a very well developed plan to not only clean up the entire country but to map out illegal dump sites.  With massive community support the first clean up in Estonia saw over 50,000 citizens (over 4% of Estonia’s population) participate in cleaning up 10 tonnes of garbage in 5 hours.

Since that first clean up, other counties have used the model to have one day countrywide clean ups. Each Let’s Do It Clean Up has galvanized thousands of people in each country having clean ups. Volunteer citizens picking up garbage has been high: Latvia (210,000 participants), Lithuania (250,000), Portugal (100,000), Slovenia (270,000), Romania (250,000), Albania (147,000), Hungary (200,000), Bulgaria (375,000), Ukraine (500,000), India (54,000), and Philippines (28,000). To date over 113 countries and 16 million volunteers have joined the Let’s Do It movement.

On September 8, 2018, a massive global clean up is planned, uniting countries around the world to create a global effort to clean up the garbage littering the planet. The goal is to bring together people from 150 counties to join together to participate in this one day event. The rationale for 150 countries is that it would be approximately 1/5 of the world’s population. This number represents the estimated amount of people necessary to create lasting change and go beyond just one day of incredible activism.

Trash is a world problem. One need only read the dozens of headlines daily to realize that we have a global problem.

Long Island , Johannesburg , Region of Waterloo ,West Wimmera , Merthyr , Kochuveli are just some of the millions of communities that have problems with illegal dumping.

Could uniting as a global movement help us to increase awareness, change behaviours and create solutions for our trash problems?

September 8th 2018 Let’s Do It!

 

Let’s Do It is an accredited partner of UNEP and the campaign World Cleanup Day is directly addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Tackling waste pollution, adopting sustainable waste management systems, redesigning and innovating for maximum material recovery will play a significant role in reaching the goals for sustainable development.

The Brewing Problem of the “To Go” Coffee Cup

Coffee-cup-EDIT

Coffee is the most common beverage after water for adults. Coffee is the most popular hot beverage and the number one food service beverage in Canada. 14 billion cups of coffee are consumed in Canada every year, and 35% of coffee is consumed “to go”.

Most of the “to go” coffee is being served in single-use cups. The impact of these cups causes wide-spread problems in both urban and rural communities. Disposable cups are becoming a major pollution hazard.

Disposable cups, lids and other coffee related products make up a significant amount of the items picked up annually in The Great Shoreline Cleanup Campaign

The City of Vancouver has recently directed staff to investigate potential regulatory options  to reduce the amount of coffee cup litter

A huge problem with “to go” is where the coffee cup is travelling and what we do with it when we no longer want it.    coffee cup litter

In British Columbia both foam and plastic coated paper coated coffee cups are recycled in a provincial EPR program for packaging ; this is a residential recycling program that brand owner’s like Tim Horton’s contribute to as a producer of packaging but the problem is the discarded cup does not travel to the consumer’s home to be placed in the recycling, instead it will be discarded when the coffee is either finished or not wanted anymore.

The average number of steps someone will carry garbage is twelve paces. Unfortunately many consumers are unwilling to carry the unwanted cup to find recycling, composting or disposal options. Providing these options on city streets, malls, beaches, highways, and parks has a cost.

Supplying composting or recycling options can only work if consumers use the service properly. A busy commuter may throw a coffee cup full of liquid into a recycling bin at an airport or train station into a recycling bin contaminating the newspapers and other products in the bin for recycling or a compostable coffee cup dropped on the ground at a park may look and smell like food to wildlife.

While all communities have “to go” options for take-out coffee not every community has options to deal with the discards. Vancouver, like other communities in Canada, actively promotes street food sales as part of the community plan but with this encouragement of this economic development the big picture costs of “to go” has not been anticipated. For many communities property taxes make the old style mom and pop coffee shop, where patrons sat over a cup of coffee, not financially viable.

Banning single-use coffee cups will impact many small businesses in communities and before doing this perhaps we need to look at alternatives.

In New Zealand a campus coffee shop is no longer selling coffee in single-use coffee cups instead the Eden Cafe is asking patrons to bring their own cups or take a ceramic cup to return. Their research showed that the majority of their patrons consumed the coffee 50 metres from the cafe. The cafe is also able to create drop off zones around the campus for the reusable ceramic cups.

Food vendors at Powell River Farmers Market also use ceramic cups that can be deposited at a washing station as do many zero waste events. Mobile dish mobiles may be an answer to eliminating waste when the cups are remaining in the area.

Creating deposit systems for refundable bottles has been successful at diverting recyclable products into recycling systems. In Vancouver, the one day Coffee Cup Revolution organized by The Binners Project, gave a 5 cent refund for single-use coffee cups, 55,000 cups were collected in downtown Vancouver.

Bans, deposit systems, recycling programs, and product design are methods that governments and business can work with to resolve the problems created by single-use cups but the success of these changes depends on the consumer. Years ago when coffee marketers looking to expand the market share convinced consumers of the convenience and ease of abandoning the office coffee pot or the thermos for coffee anytime and anyplace consumers embraced the “to go” way of life. Now realizing the impact of disposable cups we as consumers will be the ones to really create change.

As consumers it is the decisions we make that will make a difference.

If we want to avoid creating waste and wasting resources we have to make conscious changes in our behaviours and increase our awareness of the products we use including all end of life issues.

Even adopting reusable containers, we must resist our impulse of acquiring and discarding instead we must, as consumers lead the way to reducing and reusing and making things last.

Perhaps it is time to slow down our lifestyles so we sit down with a cup of coffee in a reusable cup and talk about a sustainable future.