Our Alternative Approach to Run Against Plastic
Welcome to Quebec, Canada’s only Francophone and largest province! Along with its neighbours, Ontario and New Brunswick, as well as nearby Nova Scotia, Quebec was one of the first provinces to join what we now call Canada. Since that time, this beautiful province has established itself as culturally unique and indispensable to the Canadian landscape. Today, let’s celebrate a few Québécois organizations that work hard to reduce plastic pollution and keep our waters safe.
Andy Sward at Million Bottle Pledge is currently on his second plogging trip of the year! Once again tackling British Columbia roads so that he can stay close to home, he has a particular method for getting the job done!
Andy always comes back home on the same roads he takes out. This way, he can run along the opposite side of the road and collect the litter that he missed the first time around. It’s also a way for him to see how much litter can build up in the short amount of time between coming and going.
Even though it seems like there’s always litter to be collected, we hope that as more and more people get out and organize their own community cleanups, there will be less garbage on our roads in the near future.
First up, we have Life Without Plastic (LWP). They’re an online shop based in Gatineau, Quebec, specializing in home and lifestyle plastic-free goods. LWP is showing everyone that we don’t need plastic products to get by and that it’s easy to join the plastic-free movement!
The shop was started by Chantal and Jay shortly after they had their first child. The two of them had always been environmentally and health conscious and wanted to pass those values down to their son. As they shopped around for alternatives to plastic baby bottles, they realized that there was a gap in the market for plastic-free baby products and decided to be the ones to fill it.
Founded in 2006, LWP started as an online store for plastic-free baby products but has since expanded into an impressive inventory of goods for all aspects of life.
Included in their inventory are plenty of interesting home and lifestyle goods that you may not have even thought of before. In this way, LWP shows customers that there are plenty of ways to swap plastic products out of your life, no matter who you are or what your needs are.
For example, they offer a laundry detergent bar rather than liquid soap that comes in a plastic jug; a ceramic coffee dripper so that you can replace your plastic one; and hemp/cotton sandwich bags that can be washed and reused rather than disposable plastic sandwich bags. All of these products help keep plastic out of the home, which in turn helps keep plastic out of landfills and our oceans. While surfing LWP’s website, you can see that there’s really something for everyone!
Shop their inventory and read up on their mission at the Life Without Plastic website.
Here’s something a little different. Students on Ice (SOI) is a Quebec-based foundation that brings high school and university students from around the world on arctic expeditions to Nunavut and Greenland. On these trips, the youth participants are accompanied by scientists, educators, artists, historians, Indigenous elders, musicians and more, to help connect them to the land and learn as they go. The expeditions are both educational and provide students with opportunities for personal growth.
SOI has an educational mandate that emphasizes ocean literacy, sustainability, climate change, green economies, and Indigenous ways of knowing. Students learn about these subjects through the experts that accompany them as well as by connecting with local community members and leaders.
By meeting and working with local communities, the participants learn to value polar regions through the eyes of the people that live there and better understand the needs of the region. As an educational program, SOI teaches students to think critically about the environment through a more conscious lens.
For the people that live in polar regions, climate change is visible in the melting of permafrost and the erosion of coastlines. For this reason, it is so important that students are visiting the arctic and experiencing the effects of climate change and pollution firsthand, as well as working with local communities on solutions.
SOI is an amazing opportunity for youth to learn about Canada’s north and the ways in which issues of sustainability and climate change are negatively impacting land as well as ways of life. The expeditions remind us that we are all global citizens, working together toward a common goal.
You can learn more about this foundation by visiting the Students on Ice website and read up on previous expeditions.
Last up is Éco Entreprises Québec (ÉEQ). The province of Quebec has the Environment Quality Act (loi sur la qualité de l’environnement), which, among other things, requires corporations to take financial responsibility for the reclaiming of their containers, packaging, and printed materials. Essentially, they pay for recycling programs! ÉEQ is a non-profit organization that works alongside organizations and municipal waste management to ensure follow through of the Environment Quality Act.
ÉEQ’s main function is to collect money directly from plastic-producing organizations and carry it forward to Quebec’s recycling programs. They are the middlemen between the production and recycling industries. Through this relationship, they’re engaging with a circular economy model and working towards a goal of keeping all eligible recyclables out of landfills.
In addition to ÉEQ’s collection duties, they also work alongside organizations to innovate container and packaging materials, looking for more sustainable options to bring onto the market. The objective of this initiative is to reduce waste that can’t be recycled, and to replace plastic packaging with environmentally conscious options.
Due to ÉEQ’s knowledge of recycling practices, they’re able to help organizations come up with alternative materials that can be recycled instead of winding up in landfills!
ÉEQ also works closely with municipal governments and their recycling programs to ensure that they recycle as much as possible. In Quebec, 50 per cent of plastics that are collected through curbside pickup are recycled. That’s 40,000 tonnes of plastic every year being recovered! These recycling programs and ÉEQ’s role in their success is a major inspiration for the rest of Canada.
Check out Éco Entreprises Québec’s website to learn more about all that they do and find some tips for recycling within Quebec! Next week we tour through Ontario! Missed last week? Read up on New Brunswick organizations.
Rachel Petersen was a Communications Intern for Plastic Oceans Canada, studying Professional Writing and Communications at Humber College.