Plastic has become a part of daily life and there appears to be no way around it. Food comes in plastic wrappers, electronics come in plastic casings, and, rather notoriously, drinks come in plastic bottles. All of these have contributed to an increase plastics in the ocean as well as extra waste in community landfills.

On Mar. 20, this will be the topic of the upcoming dialogue hosted by the Stratford Public Library with the University of Waterloo as part of an ongoing community dialogues series. The purpose of the talk will be to educate others on the reduction of plastic in everyday life, particularly with regards to single-use disposable plastic items.

The first meeting of the year will be held in the University of Waterloo Stratford’s main atrium and will involve an open discussion between Waterloo’s Kassy Vassilakos and Upper Thames River Conservation Authority’s Emily Chandler and Jennifer Pate. Following the presentation, both Chandler and Pate will be accepting questions from the audience.

Robyn Godfried, Stratford’s adult collection and outreach librarian noted that there were strong feelings about how much plastic there was in modern society.

In an interview with the Stratford Beacon Herald, Godfried stated, “We’re hoping that there will be some strategies for people who are quite happy to use convenient plastic things that will help them to make decisions based on a more global understanding.”

Mitigating plastic can admittedly be a somewhat inconvenient task. However, the reward for doing so is a much lower presence of plastics in our waterways as well as in the ocean. For example, replacing certain disposable items with reusable ones may not eliminate a person’s plastic consumption completely, but it can do a lot to lower the daily plastic expenditure.

Waterloo Region is not the first community to discuss how to mitigate the negative effects of plastic on the environment. Recently, the United Kingdom passed a law that prohibited the use of plastic straws due to the issues caused in British waterways.

In Canada, some fast food restaurants such as Harvey’s and A&W have already developed the practice of providing customers with paper straws instead of their plastic counterparts.

For those who don’t wish to use a straw that goes soggy if submerged too long, the University of Waterloo, itself, already sells custom made metal straws that sport the university’s insignia. Both of these options, combined with the increasingly common practice of using biodegradable plastic made from corn starch, could lead to a future where plastic is not such a prominent environmental issue. It might just take a bit of effort.


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