World Oceans Day is just around the corner on June 8 - the same day that the Canada G7 Leaders Summit is set to launch where world leaders will be meeting to discuss the global plastic epidemic and what to do about it. After Justin Trudeau's lukewarm response to the UK's call for all Commonwealth countries to join them in banning certain single-use plastic items, we figure the Canadian Government could use a little push.
We'll be joining Toronto Environmental Alliance tonight (May 31st) for their Zero Plastic Waste Advocacy Training Session, which focuses on helping communities make their voices louder than lobbyists in telling governments what bans and punitive fees they want to see put in place to reduce our reliance on single-use plastics. Carrying zero waste kits and refusing plastic where you can is a great initiative - but we need to take it further. We need to put the responsibility for plastic waste squarely where it belongs - on the shoulders of the corporations who are manufacturing and distributing the products. And we need to put policies in place that make it unacceptable to use these environmentally devastating materials.
Ahead of the training session tonight, we've listed three petitions you can sign right now to send a message to the government about reducing Canada's plastic footprint. Join us in celebrating World Ocean Day a little early this year by taking #ActionForWater by telling the leaders at the G7 Summit we want single-use plastics pulled from our shelves:
1) Tell Canada You Want a Plastic-Free Environment
This one is from Environmental Defence Canada and is sent directly to Catherine Mckenna, our Minister of the Environment. This petition was designed in the lead up to the G7 Leaders summit to make them aware of how many Canadians want them to act of plastics.
2) Tell Toronto City Council to Act on Single-Use Plastics
In July, Councillors on the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee will be considering what the City can do to eliminate and reduce unnecessary and polluting plastics. This could mean bans and fees on single-use plastics in Toronto. Corporate lobbyists have been whispering in their ears in the lead-up to the meeting and Toronto Environmental Alliance wants you to get louder than them. Sign the petition to send a message directly to John Tory - we want bans and fees!
3) Add Your Voice to Canada's Consultation on Plastic
Right now, we have a critical opportunity to shape how Canada tackles plastic production, waste, and pollution: Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, has launched a public consultation to hear what people across the country want to see in a national plastics strategy to tackle plastic pollution. Take action now to add your voice and urge the federal government to move away from false solutions and to take a common sense approach by getting at the root cause of the plastics problem.
4) Ban Plastic Straws From all Restaurants in Toronto
StrawlessTO has been making waves in Toronto, bringing the #StopSucking movement to our doorstep. While straws seem like a small thing, they aren't easy to recycle (because of their size), they are one of the top items found in beach cleanups, they end up inside the noses of turtles and in the US alone, people go through enough of the little plastic tubes to wrap around the Earth 2.5 times. It's time for them to go, sign the petition.
*** we acknowledge that some folks have legitimate needs for straws. We are confident that an appropriate alternative could be found (there are innovative developments using seaweed, for example). And in the interim, straws could be kept on hand for those who need them (perhaps paper or bamboo straws!).
5) Take the Plastic Pledge
Greenpeace Canada is challenging Canadians to take the plastic pledge, to call on corporations to stop fuelling our addiction to throwaway plastic, and for governments to hold them accountable and take real action to tackle the plastic pollution crisis.
After attending the Zero Waste Plastic Advocacy Training Session mentioned above, we have another action item for you! Toronto Environmental Alliance mentioned the importance of signing petitions to get our government to pay attention. But they also shared that there are 5 councillors who belong to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee (PWIC) in Toronto - the people who deal directly with policies effecting waste management.
While you should also contact your own ward councillor to voice your desire to see Toronto move to a 'plastic free future' (as they are meeting about this July), you should also contact these PWIC councillors (whether you live in their ward or not). Tell them you support bans on single-use plastics such as black plastics, bags, straws, coffee cups/lids, etc OR at the very least, punitive fees (remember that plastic bag use declined by 53% in Toronto when we introduced the 5c fee, which has since unfortunately been cancelled).
Here are the PWIC councillors, and their Twitter handles:
Phone them, write them letters, tweet at them - just contact them in whatever way works for you and tell them you want to see Toronto take action to solve the excessive plastic waste problem with fees and bans! Here is the primary hashtag for the campaign: #ActOnPlasticTO and here are some others to connect to other zero waste initiatives to spread the word: #TOpoli, #BreakFreeFromPlastic, #ZeroWasteTO, #ZeroWaste, #BanTheBagTO, #StopSuckingToronto, #StopSucking