Editorial

A coyote has its head trapped in a plastic jar in this photo from Seattle which has since gone viral.

In 2010, Jan Vozenilek, a cinematographer and community volunteer from Naramata went up and down the valley sharing his experience of visiting Midway Island — home of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Although well received everywhere he presented, that was nearly a decade ago and very little has been done since.

Until Monday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the intention to ban all single-use plastics by 2021.

Recycling runs in his family. Long before he entered politics, it was Trudeau’s mother who urged Canadians in 2006 to stop drinking bottled water.

Summerland Mayor Toni Boot, a known environmentalist, famously scolded her regional district counterparts who had bottled water on their desks.

Plastic, although an incredibly cheap and effective product to manufacture, is problematic. It fills up already-overflowing landfill sites, pollutes our oceans and waterways and it’s killing marine animals and other wildlife.

A heartbreaking photo from Seattle that’s gone viral is of a coyote with his head trapped in a plastic jar. (The animal was later rescued and the piece of plastic eventually removed.)

At a recent Federation of Canadian Municipalities convention, next to the opioid/ homeless issue, the hot topic of conversation was reduction of plastic.

Globally, 14% of the population recycles plastic. In Canada, it’s only 11%.

It’s a matter of changing our own habits.

When visiting the beach this summer, everyone should make an effort to pick up three pieces of plastic and put it in a recycle bin or take it home for the blue box.

Many municipalities have already banned plastic bags while most supermarket chains now have a service charge for each bag sold.

Coffee shops and restaurants are willing to pour beverages in travel mugs and thermoses — often at a reduced price — you just have to ask them.

While no one is a fan of government telling small business what to do, is it really a sacrifice for our favourite coffee shops to put out a tray of spoons and wash them at the end of each day?

The success of this ban remains to be seen. In theory, it should cut down on unnecessary plastic by easily 20%.

Saying it’s not going to work, before we don’t try, isn’t acceptable. The single-use ban is long overdue and hopefully Canadians embrace the change.

James Miller is managing editor of the Kelowna Daily Courier.

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