You are the problem… and the solution: The battle against Earth’s pollution crisis starts at home

Caring for the environment and living a waste-free lifestyle is a hot topic in today’s society, but while “saving the planet” is easier said than done, taking the plunge is all about small steps. 

Every action that [you] do counts, even if [you] think it’s a really small, insignificant change, it actually has a huge impact,” explains Briana Loughlin, director of inspiration and change at Plastic-Free YYC. The nonprofit organization is run entirely by volunteers who work to prevent plastic waste.

In 2018, Earth Day Network published on their website that 8.3 metric tons of plastic has been manufactured since the material’s mass production began in the 1950’s. They also found that 91 per cent of used plastics are never recycled. This pollution is estimated to “outweigh fish pound for pound by (the year) 2050.”

Despite the overwhelming task of reversing decades of active polluting, Loughlin has simple, easy steps to help decrease and eliminate a legacy of plastic.

“We are part of the problem, but we’re also part of the solution,” states Loughlin.

Face your footprint

Everyone needs to step back and look at their personal impact on the world, according to Loughlin.

“You’re not alone in this world.

“And it’s not all about you.”

Taking time to notice how much waste is produced by one’s lifestyle, and making changes, opens the mind to the magnitude of this problem, says Loughlin.

“Look at the youth, or the kids walking down the street – it’s about them, and it’s about the generations after them.”

There are many sites, such as the Global Footprint Network, that offer ecological footprint calculators to estimate the amount of “Earths” needed to sustain one’s individual lifestyle.

“Say ‘No’ to the Big Bad Four”

The “big bad four,” Loughlin explains as an easy way to consciously eliminate single-use plastics. These four are plastic grocery bags, straws, plastic water bottles, and coffee cups.

“If you can start with those four and start eliminating them, that’s a great way to start.”

Plastic-Free YYC also compels people to action through an online challenge called “Take the Challenge,” to help kick-start one’s decision to change.

Loughlin compels people to start with small manageable steps, and not get caught up in the size of the issue.

“You have to find what works for you in your lifestyle, and start with that one thing.”

Connect to the action

Plastic-Free YYC hosts a variety of events and opportunities for the community. From education nights and documentaries to clothing swaps, the organization is a resource for anyone looking to get connected to the action. They also host community cleanups on Earth Day, April 22, to clean up Calgary’s parks and river ways.

“If we don’t clean up our act and clean up our world, our future generations won’t have a world to live in,” expressed Loughlin.


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