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Earth Day, 2024

Planet vs Plastics

This article was written as a collaboration between the Lions Bay Climate Action Committee, Lions Bay Bird Friendly and John Dudley's Lions Bay Plastic Begone

When the first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22 1970, our Earth was a very different place. Now, according to “Plastics extend beyond an imminent environmental issue; they present a grave threat to human health as alarming as climate change. As plastics break down into microplastics, they release toxic chemicals into our food and water sources and circulate through the air we breathe. Plastic production now has grown to more than 380 million tons per year. More plastic has been produced in the last ten years than in the entire 20th century, and the industry plans to grow explosively for the indefinite future.”

It’s no surprise then that the theme for Earth Day 2024 is “Planet vs. Plastics”.

Our community takes great pride in its environmental stewardship and local conservation initiatives. In 2019, Lions Bay had the lowest amount of garbage per capita in BC, a proud achievement for us all. It was in large part thanks to recycling education by volunteer groups such as the Climate Action Task Force (2009 – 2011) and the Village’s curbside recycling program. But there’s still a long way to go.

Several Lions Bay volunteer groups are committed to helping residents reduce plastic pollution and its impacts, including the Climate Action Committee (CAC), the Bird Friendly Team and John Dudley’s Plastic Begone Facebook group. They all have the same goal: to support the urgent worldwide push for less plastic.

The Village receives a rebate for its participation in the Recycle BC program. In the 2024 budget, the CAC has recommended that this be allocated to cover the cost of a mini-transfer station at the Works Yard. This will make it easier for residents to recycle soft plastics and foam. Currently these items can’t be put out curbside and must be taken to depots in North Vancouver. Details about other recyclables such as batteries and light bulbs will be announced as the program rolls out.

The Province’s Single-Use and Plastic Waste Prevention Regulation came into effect in December 2023. Our bylaws have not yet been updated to reflect these requirements, but we can still do our part. Every seemingly small step we each take will add up to a healthier, cleaner future.

Reduce your use. Avoiding plastics entirely is the best option but not always easy . . . however, reducing use IS doable. Recycling is important but not all plastics are recyclable. Most still end up in the landfill, breaking down over time into those toxic microplastics. Avoidance is therefore key.

Think outside the box. Before you throw a container into your blue bin think: can I use it again for storing something else? Do I have to buy the same thing next time I go shopping or is there an alternative? Making your own cleaning agents in reused containers is a great way to avoid buying more plastic. Share ideas and places you shop to avoid plastic on Lions Bay Plastic Begone Facebook page

Avoid single-use plastics entirely. Use reusable travel mugs, water bottles, lunch containers and on-the-go cutlery: there are many cool options available for all ages. Challenge yourself! For motivation, read the scary facts about single use plastics here. If you can’t avoid these, be sure to recycle (take home if necessary).

Don’t buy plastic wrap. Reuse glass containers with lids as a better and safer option for storing food (also reduces your grocery bill). But If you must use food wrap, it can be washed and reused or recycled as a soft plastic. This includes the wrap on meat trays and similar items from the supermarket. Those foam trays should also be washed and recycled.

Bring your own bags (all of them). Easy enough these days! Also – use plastic bags from bread and other already-purchased products for bulk-buy items or produce (tip: most produce doesn’t need to be in a bag . . . think farmer’s markets, use a basket!).

Be a diligent recycler! Most plastic recyclables can be easily washed in the dishwasher or by hand (worth the effort – you’ll feel good!).

Be a clever shopper. Be a thrift store supporter, don’t buy “fast fashion”, learn about the circular economy. Many clothing items are major contributors to the microplastic crisis: read the labels and choose natural materials if you can.

Speak up. Sign petitions, write to your MLA and MP. Every voice counts.

Happy Earth Day!

Have Earth Day ideas you’d like to share? Leave your comment below, or send us an email at 

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