Battling Our Addiction to Single-Use Plastics

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by LeeAnne Lavender,

Concordia Global Issues Network Advisor

Right before the Christmas break, the Concordia administrative team approved a wonderful policy change that was the end result of 2 years of work by Concordia high school students. The students had run a campaign called Rethink Your Drink to educate the community about the environmental hazards of single-use plastic bottles and, as a result of administrative support, no single-use plastic bottles are now sold on the Concordia campus!

This is a huge move forward in terms of becoming a more green, sustainable campus, and the Global Issues Network students who ran the Rethink Your Drink campaign hope that even more single-use products will soon disappear from Concordia soil. This campaign also aligns with the goals and objectives of GINAsia 2018 keynote speakers Melati and Isabel Wijsen from Bye Bye Plastics Bali. Melati and Isabel are 2 youth environmentalists who have convinced the government of Bali to ban all single-use plastic bags on the island starting this year, 2018.

Single-use plastic bottles are an environmental disaster:

·      To create a 1-liter plastic bottle, 2 liters of water are used in production of the bottle: this is a huge waste of our planet’s limited water resources.

·      It takes ¼ of the volume of a plastic bottle in OIL to make the bottle. Imagine your water bottle filled to the 1/4 –full mark with crude oil.

·      There are many health risks associated with chemicals used in creating bottles made from PET (polyethylene terephthalate), the most common type of plastic used for single-use beverage bottles.

·      Most single-use plastic bottles are not recycled. Forbes magazine says that “globally humans buy a million plastic bottles per minute (and) 91% of all plastic is not recycled. On top of that, it is estimated that over half a trillion plastic bottles will be sold in 2020.” This is a momentous problem. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2017/07/26/million-plastic-bottles-minute-91-not-recycled/#2c6f78e8292c).

·      China is the worst polluter of oceans: “A 2015 report found that China was responsible for one-third of all plastic waste polluting the world’s oceans.” (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/shanghai-informal-recyclers_us_5a537b92e4b0efe47ebadf88)

  • Over time, plastic breaks down into tiny particles called micro-plastics, which are found on shorelines around the world.

These statistics are shocking and it is wonderful that Concordia leaders have supported a ban on selling single-use plastic bottles.

What can you do to support this initiative and help save our planet?

1)    Ensure that you and your children bring re-useable water bottles to campus and refill these from the many water coolers available in each building.

2)    Avoid bringing single-use plastic bottles from home to campus. Please, if you have single-use bottles at home, do not bring them to school.

3)    Recycle any plastic packaging at one of our plastic recycling bins at Concordia. There is a big green bin on the first floor of the high school, and a small bin in the café. Please use these recycling bins.

4)    Learn about how to use less plastic and how you can become more green with your personal lifestyle choices: https://myplasticfreelife.com/

5)    Support the HS Global Issues Network students with this campaign and other environmental initiatives as they LEAD us towards a greener future.

For further reading, check out:

https://mightynest.com/articles/making-a-plastic-water-bottle

http://www.greeneducationfoundation.org/nationalgreenweeksub/waste-reduction-tips/tips-to-use-less-plastic.html

https://www.zerowasteweek.co.uk/zero-waste-week-day-1-plastic/