CBC Marketplace presented “Why buying plastic-free groceries is so hard” on January 11, 2019. The investigator reporter was Mark Kelly.
Everyone that grocery shops today, must notice the overuse of plastic in grocery stores. English cucumbers wrapped in plastic and then placed in a group in a plastic bag, while regular cucumbers have no plastic wrapping? Coconuts wrapped in plastic? Meat/cookies wrapped in plastic with hard to degrade black bottoms trays? Celery/peppers in a bag? Plastic use in grocery stores is out of control.
So where does this plastic go, and is it recycled as we have been led to believe? Consumers/shoppers believed that it was being made into new bottles, bags, straws and beach balls, right? Wrong! Almost half of our plastic was shipped to China, until they announced in 2017 that they would no longer take our North American plastic waste.
Plastic ends up in landfills where it can take up to 500 years for water bottles to degrade. Plastic thrown into landfills contaminates the soil and groundwater with harmful chemicals and microorganisms, and eventually makes it way to the ocean. Marine pollution caused by plastic moves its way down the food chain, and reports say that around one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed every due to plastic ingestion. 44% of all seabird species, as well as cetaceans and sea turtles have been documented to have plastic debris in their bodies. Enjoy your fish? Fish and shellfish we eat are known to have bits of plastic in them. Studies have found that toxins in plastics can cause health issues including cancers, immune system problems, and birth defects.
So what can we do as consumers? Bring your own recyclable bags/bins to the grocery store. Stop buying bottled water. Just say no to plastic straws at fast food eating places. Bring reusable coffee cups to your favourite cafe. Eliminate the use of plastic cutlery. Avoid buying microbead products, such as facial cleansers and toothpaste. These are small, but very important first steps. Contact the large grocery chains, and let them know of your concerns and ask them what they are going to do about the overuse of packaging in plastic. Make these grocery corporations accountable.
Plastic can be eliminated at grocery stores, as Mark Kelly found out at Budgens in north London, England. In ten weeks this store became a plastic free shopping experience. Its time in Canada to do the same.