This Sudbury group is challenging people to give up single-use plastics
'We need to make a change and we need to reduce our consumption,' says co-founder
A Sudbury organization is challenging people to reduce waste by giving up single-use plastic products like straws, utensils, water bottles and shopping bags.
Plastic-Free Greater Sudbury is asking local businesses to sign a pledge to eliminate or reduce at least three plastic items, in favour of more eco-friendly alternatives.
Liz Anawati, one of the founders of the group, said the idea was born in an office where the members worked together as graduate students.
"We started talking about how ridiculous it was to get mounds of plastic cutlery and mounds of mints wrapped in packages, and serviettes in packages," Anawati said.
"We didn't know what to do with them, because we never asked for them, but we got lunch and we would automatically be given it."
The idea grew from there, and the group has since reached out to several businesses who have agreed to take the pledge, including Salute Coffee Company and Tucos Taco Lounge.
Although plastic straws have been in the spotlight lately, with large companies like A&W Canada and Starbucks vowing to offer alternatives, Anawati credits organizations like Last Straw Sudbury with laying the groundwork for a larger movement away from plastic.
"It's really easy to feel overwhelmed when you look at the plastic issue globally at this point," she said.
"The reality is you don't need to start with everything. You start with one or two things, feel proud of those things, and then once you feel comfortable with those actions that you've taken, move to something new."
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
In addition to the pledge, Plastic-Free Greater Sudbury is also leading a reusable bag initiative at local grocery stores, so that shoppers who forget to bring their own can borrow bags, instead of turning to plastic.
The group also recently held a Waste-Less Fair to help introduce people to reusable alternatives that are accessible and affordable.
Anawati said although reducing waste can seem daunting, it's important to remember the three R's, with an emphasis on reducing and reusing — not just recycling.
"The problem with recycling is, as many people in the green communities know, most of the stuff that's recyclable doesn't actually get recycled," she said.
"If it's not making it into the recycling bin, then it's going to end up in our environment, our water systems and our landfills. And we don't have the capacity to take care of that anymore. We need to make a change and we need to reduce our consumption."