Hello everyone! One way to brighten your days is to take on a new challenge! For 2022, the Green Initiatives Committee has developed a series of monthly challenges to help us all make some simple changes for a greener lifestyle. We are hoping that some of our ideas will interest you, because lots of us making small changes can add up to a big difference.
As many of us settle instinctively indoors more with the weather getting colder and the days getting shorter, it’s a good time for reflection. There were obviously many challenges and serious downsides to the pandemic, so in this article we won’t dwell on the staggering health and mortality effects. However, a lot of environmental initiatives also seemed to go backward for a while during the pandemic, when we could no longer bring our own mugs to cafes, plastic waste from masks and gloves was rampant (and often unfortunately ended up as litter), and even most grocery stores stopped allowing re-usable bags for a while. For many people, these may seem like minor or negligible considerations in the grand scheme of things, however the cumulative excessive waste generated by the pandemic has been shocking.
A research article[i] from late 2021 estimated that more than eight million tons of pandemic-associated plastic waste had been generated globally. Another report[ii] estimated that 1.56 million face masks entered the oceans in 2020.
What can we do to help turn things around, as we try to return to “normal” life again, each of us at varying speeds of recovery. There is so much information out there, that sometimes it can be overwhelming! In this article, we’ll highlight a few good sources to help with ideas.
Interestingly, according to the 2021 Statistics Canada survey[iii] of the census metropolitan areas in Canada, households in Lethbridge led the way in using reusable water bottles at an impressive 97%.. They must have a strong environmental community there, as they also have an impressive website.
Challenge: Check out the website www.wasteless.ca (i.e. waste less), which is a wonderful and informative site from Environment Lethbridge, and even includes a short but comical video series. I think at this point, we could all use a little more humour in our lives. The website also includes lots of tips and information on a variety of issues, in an easy-to-read and interactive format with graphics to keep your interest.
Challenge: Learn while you exercise! With the pandemic, some of us probably had way more screen time than we ever would have wanted. So perhaps you might rather listen than get information from a computer. The Recycling Council of Alberta (www.recycle.ab.ca) has an interesting and informative podcast series called On the Cusp: Alberta’s Circular Podcast. These 20- to 30-minute podcasts are perfect to listen to while you’re out for a walk, as they provide lots of food for thought.
Challenge: Let’s plan out some winter activities, to get us outside and enjoy the fresh air! Don’t forget about all the adventurous, fun and self-propelled activities you can do to stay in shape and enjoy the outdoors! Cross-country skiing, tobogganing, skating, hockey, fat biking (mountain biking on snow) and rosy-cheeked winter walks are some favourites.
Challenge: If you put aside some good habits during the pandemic, let’s try to get back to them again. I’ve noticed some cafes will now let you bring your own re-usable cups again. Let’s use this time to re-think how we do things, and creatively figure out how to waste less. Lots of us probably started driving on our own instead of travelling with others, so we can also start to revisit our travel patterns and consider public transit, carpooling or even better, active transportation.
Challenge: In case you’re already starting to think about Christmas gifts, especially for those many people who really don’t need anything (or more stuff), how about instead some nice home-baked snacks like muffins or soup for their freezer? Or you can make a donation to a charity in their name, or symbolically adopt an animal, for example through World Wildlife Fund, which is especially popular with children. The Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation (www.burrowingowl.com) allows you to sponsor their impressive birds of prey, including various owls and majestic eagles (especially popular with adults too!), and does amazing work caring for wild birds and in many cases is able to release them back to the wild. It’s also a wonderful place for an outdoor visit to keep in mind for the summer.
If you want to get involved to help make Mount Pleasant a greener community, please email email@example.com for more information or to join our new mailing list. Please check out the Mount Pleasant Green Initiative Group on Facebook, found on the Mount Pleasant Community Association page. The Facebook group is also a great place to share your completed challenges and see what others are doing.
Have a great month,
The MPCA Green Initiatives Committee
[i] Peng, Yiming et al, Research Article: Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, “Plastic waste release caused by COVID-19 and its fate in the global ocean”, November 8, 2021.
[ii] Bondaroff, T. P. and S. Cooke, “Masks on the Beach: The Impact of COVID-19 on Marine Plastic Pollution”, OceansAsia, 2020, referenced in article i.
[iii] Statistics Canada, Households and the Environment Survey 2021, accessed on-line from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/220718/dq220718c-eng.htm.