Love Your Lake Progress Report - Niagara Region

Love Your Lake - Niagara Region

We’ve made it through the Niagara region, and has it ever been a great adventure. Our journey kicked off on May 5th in Niagara-on-the-Lake at Queen’s Royal Park. We were joined by 60 volunteers and the crew from Paddle Niagara to make for a very memorable launch!

Niagara Region Progress Report.jpg

What we found throughout this portion of the project that is very concerning is the amount of polystyrene (Styrofoam) that is washing up along the shoreline. Some of this is from take out containers, cups, and plates, but a larger portion seems to be thicker pieces that could be coming from docks, buoys, insulation and even from items like life jackets and packing materials. Styrofoam is everywhere, and in many things that we might not expect.

“A recent report from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce found that, in 2012, 80 per cent of styrofoam waste in Canada, more than 6,500 tonnes, ended up in landfills or waterways.” - CBC News

The two biggest problems with polystyrene are:

1. Polystyrene can only be manufactured new, not from recycled polystyrene. While most of it isn’t currently being recycled the portion that is is no longer expandable or foam-like. Instead, it gets turned into hard plastic for things like picture frames and park benches. It can only be "recycled" once and this downgraded plastic is hard for recycling companies to sell. It tends to be more expensive to recycle polystyrene than it is to make new plastic.

2. Polystyrene breaks apart into smaller and smaller pieces, especially when it’s being degraded by the elements. This makes it hard to clean up, and also makes it a hazard for wildlife as they mistake it for food.

Please avoid polystyrene any chance you can. Instead of using single-use polystyrene takeout containers, cups, and plates use reusable or paper containers, cups, and plates. You can also purchase items second hand so they don’t come with excessive foam packaging, and for other items like docks and insulation look for alternatives that replace foam.