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Eco Acton Vol.1

Eco Acton

Welcome to a new segment on Acton Up – Eco Acton!

Our purpose here is to help everyone who works, lives, visits, and, plays in Acton make sense of and take actions for happy, healthy people in their environment. Big goals but we will do our best.

Biological Diversity (BioDiversity) plays a large part in meeting these goals So what is BioDiversity anyways? Lots of people think of BioDiversity as plants and animals, but it includes more. BioDiversity includes all life forms from the very small to the very large. It includes genes, micro-organisms, species (humans are one of those species), ecosystems and their interrelationship, Big picture for sure! Although the term BioDiversity was coined by researchers in the mid-1900’s, the importance of the concept has been recognized throughout the world and become the main focus of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The following link provides a good basic video intro to BioDiversity. "What is biodiversity and why does it matter to us?”

We will try to make sure that we reference the part of BioDiversity we are talking about if we need to. For example, if we are talking about plants we will say species diversity, not just BioDiversity. We are also going to do our best to help makes sense of how the different components work together, how they work to support happy healthy people, and also, include actions you can take to help be part of the shift towards taking action for a sustainable future for all life and the planet. You may think that as individuals our small actions can’t shift things. But they can. Guest articles are encouraged and if you have something you want to contribute let us know. Whew… A lot to take in. Still with us? Well here goes.

April 22, 2018

Eco Acton - Plastic litter - It’s in the Bag!

Most plastic litter is not good for us or the planet. Plastic can be made from natural substances or man-made (synthetic plastics or fibers). Most of what we currently use is industrially produced synthetic polymers which although useful for many purposes, they take a very long time to disappear. A lot of plastics, as part of the breakdown process, do not really disappear but disintegrates into small molecules that stick around in the ecosystem for a very, very long time. Big or small, plastics can be a form of pollution that, while we are recycling some of them, lots still wind up, not only as visual pollution but lots of it, in various stages of decomposition, makes its way into our watercourses and eventually to our oceans. Not sure if you have noticed your or your neighbour's recycling blowing around on windy days. This has been a concern for many people.

Plastics have tons of impacts on human and BioDiversity health. Not only can they be visual impacts and threats to the health of various species (thus to BioDiversity), they are also not good news for ecosystems and can make their way into the human food chain. Plastics are in so many things now we often don’t even know that the polymers are there. For an interesting story about polyester, check out this short “Story of Stuff” video on microplastics in our clothes. We will take a deeper dive into microplastics, but not yet.

The blowing around of plastics and the way they make their way into our watercourses is what we want to highlight in our actions today. So what can we do to help? Well first off Kudos to Halton region! Starting on April 2, 2018, the Region has shifted its collection practices, partially to address the blowing around of recycling materials, especially the plastics! Now we can protect our water ecosystems and all species (remember that we are a species too) by making sure we secure all plastic recyclables – for me, this means in a big clear plastic bags. What irony, using plastic to stop plastic litter! BUT it is a solution to pollution, as long as it is handled appropriately at the end of its journey. The region is also adding more materials to its recycling mix way to go Region!

So what else can we do?

1: Practice the five Rs: refuse, refine (what you are using/is plastic natural or synthetic), reduce, reuse, and recycle.

2: Challenge your family, friends, coworkers, classmates, EVERYONE, to take action and get involved.

Actions to get you going, in no particular order.

Don’t throw any plastic away, when walking or cycling, or out your window when in a vehicle.

Try to purchase plant-based plastics, if possible.

Don’t use straws. Consider purchasing stainless steel straws if you must have them and bring them with you when going out for food.

Convince the kids that juice is better in a permanent juice box.

Use reusable shopping bags (cloth is better) as much as possible, even for fruits and veggies.

Always have your travel mug and reusable bottle, all the better if they are not plastic!

If you eat out a lot consider carrying metal utensils to avoid the plastic ones.

Skip the container for take-out food. Bring your own takeaway container from home.

Shop in bulk food department or stores if you can – remember to bring your own containers.

Participate in the town’s “22 Minute Clean Up” and target plastic especially.

After the day is over if you see plastic litter near you Pick It UP! Imagine if we all took the care to pick these things up, better for BioDiversity and we are acting local but thinking global!

Worth repeating, make sure all plastic you put out for recycling can’ t escape from its container.

Bring a bag with you when out and about, especially near water and in natural areas. Pick up plastic you see (as long as it is safe to do so). If someone looks at you funny when they see you bending over to pick up a piece of plastic somewhere (parking lot, trail, Fairy Lake, etc – anywhere), tell them what you are doing and why you are doing it.

Lots more out there.

Remember, you may think that as individuals our small actions can’t shift things. But they do. Let us know what you are doing if you can.


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