Our Alternative Approach to Run Against Plastic
Welcome to Manitoba, Canada’s centre and our first stop in the beautiful prairies! We know that plastic pollution starts on our roads before it makes its way into rivers, lakes, and eventually our oceans. And even though Manitoba has no ocean borders, the work being done here to reduce plastic pollution and stop it at the source is more than enough to celebrate! We hope you enjoy learning about these organizations as much as we have.
Andy at Million Bottle Pledge has been on the road again for over two weeks now and has made some incredible plogging progress — plogress? He’s gone up and down mountains, around lakes, met with friends, and even encountered some wildlife this time around. It’s been an exciting trip so far, and it just so happens that Andy was on the road last week for his seven-year anniversary!
On June 19, 2013, Andy began his journey as Million Bottle Pledge, a man on a mission to clean up one million bottles from Canada’s landscape and make it a little cleaner. He embarked on his first cross-country run and, it seems, has been hooked ever since!
It’s amazing to think it’s been seven years since Andy started — we hate to think how our roads might look by now without him! So here’s to Andy, may there be seven more years to come!
Now, let’s start with Recycle Everywhere (RE)! RE is a Manitoba-based program operated by the Canadian Beverage Container Recycling Association. They supply free beverage container recycling bins to public and private spaces to ensure ease and understanding when it comes to recycling. Since they started in 2010, they’ve provided over 70,000 recycling bins all around Manitoba! RE’s bins increase recycling opportunities for residents of Manitoba, which keeps beverage containers out of landfills, gives them a chance at a second life, and reduces the need for organizations to produce new ones.
We already know that beverage containers are a major problem in Canada’s waste crisis. According to Shoreline Cleanup’s 2019 report, beverage cans and plastic bottles are the seventh and eighth most commonly found litter items in Canada, respectively. Plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and even cardboard cartons can be recycled in RE beverage container bins.
Recycling bins from RE are available for home, school, community, and work spaces! You can view their catalogue of bins on their website to see which one best fits your lifestyle. By putting these bins in community spaces, such as parks, alongside roads, and on city streets, RE has been able to drastically reduce littering and keep beverage containers out of the trash. The bins also come in many varieties, such as bear-proof or mixed garbage and recycling. One of the best things about these bins is that they often come with a graphic depicting which items can be recycled in them, making it easy for everyone to recycle responsibly.
RE also runs the Northern Schools Backhaul Project in collaboration with other Manitoba businesses and organizations. This is a program that brings recycling education and bins to schools in northern Manitoba communities without recycling programs. Through this project, students and teachers work together to collect the school’s recycling, which a partner business then collects and brings to a recycling facility. This project brings recycling solutions to communities that don’t already have recycling programs and educates youth about the importance of recycling.
These educational initiatives and accessible recycling bins make RE a great program that’s making a difference in Manitoba, a province that was once known for not being great at recycling! RE is changing that reputation by making recycling possible and accessible throughout Manitoba.
Visit Recycle Everywhere’s website to learn more about the different bins available and getting your own!
Next up, we have Winnipeg’s Green Action Centre (GAC)! GAC, in their own words, is “your green living hub,” but they’re also a nonprofit and registered charity. The GAC website is a resource full of sustainable living solutions and ideas for Manitobans, with blogs, activities, and tips for everyday life. They also have an offline presence in the form of events, such as cleanups and film screenings, that take place all year long!
One of the great initiatives coming out of GAC right now is Prairie Dog Projects, a collection of resources and at-home projects for children. Due to COVID-19 and the subsequent school closures throughout Manitoba, GAC wanted to put something together that would keep children learning and engaging with green solutions while at home. The activities allow children to explore themes of environmentally conscious transportation, climate change, and of course, waste reduction! Some of the projects that GAC has put together include You Are What You Wear, The Cycle of Waste, and DIY Cleaning & Personal Products — all meant to get kids thinking about their waste footprint! Activities like this are a great way for children to learn about and build their own appreciation for the environment.
There’s also an exciting GAC event coming up next month: Plastic Free July! All month long, GAC will be challenging their audience to think critically about the products they use and to reduce their plastic waste.
As part of Plastic Free July, GAC organized the Plastic Free Picnic challenge, which asks Manitobans to go on their own plastic-free picnics and share a photo with GAC. This challenge not only gets people thinking about plastic packaging and finding alternatives, but it also enters them into a chance to win gift cards to local establishments! GAC will also host a digital film screening of the documentary “The Story of Plastic,” followed by a panel discussion with local activists. By recognizing a month-long initiative like Plastic Free July, GAC is encouraging the residents of Manitoba to make lasting changes in their lives, not just short-term solutions and alternatives to the plastic problem. This way, people have time to build lifelong plastic-free habits!
GAC is true to their identity as a green living hub, having created a reliable place for Manitobans to go online and learn how to do more for the environment! Whether this is through waste reduction, composting, or climate change awareness, they’re making a difference.
Go to Green Action Centre’s website to learn more about green living and other upcoming events.
Thanks for joining us on our tour through Manitoba, check back next week to learn about Saskatchewan!
Rachel Petersen was a Communications Intern for Plastic Oceans Canada, studying Professional Writing and Communications at Humber College.