It’s time to live a plastics-free life!

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Sabrina Almeida

The recent move to eliminate single-use plastics such as grocery bags, straws, freezer bags, garbage bags and plastic-coated paper plates and cups will have the environment breathing a huge sigh a of relief.

Ikea and A&W are the latest chains to join the war against plastics and even Indian PM Modi has committed to abolishing this environmental evil from his country by 2022.

Canada along with its other G7 allies is attempting to lead the way in developing a Plastics Charter to address the issue of non-sustainable plastic. Media reports that PEI could become the first Canadian province to ban retailers from offering plastic bags and we hope that Ontario and the rest of the country swiftly follow suit. The 5-cent charge for these bags has done little to discourage shoppers from purchasing them. Even I have succumbed to the temptation on occasion. As result these grocery bags have piled up in my home. I use them sparingly but the container that houses them is overflowing which is indicative of how many times someone in my household has capitulated.

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It is also heartening to note that on Wednesday, the Mississauga Council unanimously approved a resolution calling for a national strategy on plastic reduction and for the city to lead the way by reducing use of non-sustainable plastic.

Over the years we have become dependent on this monstrosity that is clogging our water bodies, piling up on land and causing harm to wildlife and plants. Seeing plastic bags covering open fields in Mumbai was sad but common. But this is becoming a shockingly familiar sight in Mississauga too. Albeit to a smaller degree.

In my humble opinion the only way to deal with plastic pollution is to stop making items that cannot be recycled. For people will continue to use them if they have the option. Yesterday I tried to convince my son to put a piece of lemon in a reusable container instead of a Ziploc bag. I didn’t succeed. The convenience it offers has made us lazy and uncaring.

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Paper bags are being touted as the alternative and I must confess it makes me a bit squeamish. This is surprising considering newspaper wrappings and paper bags were the only things available in India for most of my life. We all carried cloth shopping bags for groceries and “black” plastic or rexine ones for fresh meat.

These handy-but-toxic plastics have spoilt us all and it takes strong resolve to say no! While I am all for eliminating them, I know it won’t be easy. I can’t imagine life without the cling wrap and Ziploc that I’ve been using for the past 20 years. I’ve cut down usage drastically, limiting them to raw foods in my freezer but just having them in my kitchen drawer is comforting.

According to earthday.org, world plastics production totaled around 335 million metric tons in 2016. Shockingly, around half of the annual plastic production is destined for a single-use product. It further estimated that 4 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide annually but only 1% are returned for recycling. Ouch!

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Plastic water bottles and straws are our other weaknesses. Earth.org informs us that half a million straws are used in the world every day. Many are using social media to encourage us to boycott them.

Studies also revealed that Canadians buy about 2.4 billion litres of bottled water a year. A lot of these bottles find their way to the landfill.

Perhaps it would help to know the direct effects of disposable plastics on us humans. Although these petroleum-based products are not biodegradable, they will breakdown after many years releasing toxic chemicals in the process. These find their way to our food and water sources, ultimately ending up in our bloodstream.

The new mantra for being healthy could well be leading a plastic-free life. Try it! It might be easier than you think! – CINEWS

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