Guest Blog: Plastic Free July - Take the Challenge with TerraCycle

Written By: Basmah Ahmed, Business Development Manager, TerraCycle Canada.

Canada is lagging behind when it comes to strong federal policies on plastic reform. Though there have been initiatives launched by grass-roots organizations (as well as local towns, municipalities, and business owners), an extensive report by the three countries in the North American Free Trade Agreement suggests Canadian residences are generating more and more plastic waste. The country creates about 3.25 million tonnes of plastic waste (about 140,000 garbage trucks' worth) every year.

Aimed at encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of the environment from plastic’s negative impacts, “Ending Plastic Pollution” was the theme of this World Oceans Day, as it was this year's World Environment Day, Earth Day and Earth Month. 

#PlasticFreeJuly aligns itself with global conversations on plastic, and TerraCycle has some tips to help you make better decisions in some of the places where plastic might still be clogging up your habits. 

1. At the store:

Start at the door and walk in with a reusable bag. Skip those pesky one-time use bags they offer in the aisles by collecting your fruits and veggies right into your cart as is, purchasing cloth bags, or making your own.  Pro tip: Always keep a spare bag in your purse, backpack or car so you are always prepared. This is a good rule for the mall, convenience store and other retail locations.

When looking at packaged food, there is often a familiar recycling symbol on a bottle, pouch, carton or tube. However, this triangle with arrows is not a “recycling number,” but a plastic resin identification number that only indicates what the material is made of, not if it's recyclable in your local program. 

Did you know that most black packaging, flexible plastic (like pouches and snack bags) and smaller plastic items (like cosmetics packaging), no matter what type of plastic, are not recyclable? This month, make an effort to check your local recycling site to learn what can be recycled in your area, and steer away from packaging that isn't on the list. In Toronto, where TerraCycle’s Canadian office is located, they've put together this super handy Waste Wizard. 

Buy in bulk whenever possible. Check out a local bulk store in your area, and bring your own jars or containers for your favourite snacks. Not only will you produce less waste, but you'll also have some pretty aesthetically pleasing food. (You know mason jars look great on the ‘gram!)

2. At a restaurant:

We all love eating out every once in a while, but with that sometimes comes Styrofoam, plastic utensils, tiny condiment pouches and more unrecyclable plastic packaging than is really necessary. The easiest way to avoid the mess is by first by trying to slow down and eat-in. Sourcing your ingredients from local farms, bakeries and other vendors reduces the packaging waste from prepared foods.

If you're truly on the run, be prepared by bringing your own container and cutlery. Asking your server to put your order in your own container can feel odd at first, but remember:  you're about to start an important dialogue with the restaurant on reducing waste. Some restaurants are already taking pledges to reduce plastic straws.  

3. Online: 

While cyberspace may seem an unlikely place to be “plastic-free,” one of the best ways to stay motivated and engaged in any movement is to have a community backing you up. Make a pledge, and hold yourself accountable on your favourite social media platforms by using the hashtag #PlasticFreeJuly. Learn new tips from some of the best zero wasters in the game and follow accounts such as PAREdown or YourEcoFriend.

Is a product that you love or use often not recyclable? Reach out to companies! Even if it's just one tweet, e-mail or phone call, let them know you care and want them to do better. 

4. At home and at work: 


This task is no easy one! Going plastic free means you're going to be making changes to things you may have been doing for years and have never noticed until now. Plastic delivers the goods we shop for online, the clothing we buy in-store, the smoothies we sip after a workout. Be prepared to give yourself lots of room to make mistakes, slip-up and forget before you phase out that plastic for good. 

So what do you do in the meantime? In celebration of #PlasticFreeJuly, we've put our Plastic Packaging Zero Waste Box™ on a special 20% off sale all month so that you can rest easy knowing that no matter how far you're able to push yourself this year, plastic has a place, and it’s not in our waterways and landfills.

Guest Blog: The Fight Against Ocean Plastic

Written By:  Jessica Panetta, Marketing Manager, TerraCycle Canada

Single-use straws picked up off one beach in Hamilton, Ontario.

Single-use straws picked up off one beach in Hamilton, Ontario.

Imagine it’s 2050, and there is more plastic in the ocean than fish. Scary, right? Unfortunately, this idea isn’t far from the projected reality we face today. Every year, 10–20 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans and waterways, and of the more than 300 million tons of new, virgin plastic produced globally per year, half of it is designed for single use. Landfilling and incineration, the preferred disposal methods for so-called “disposable” plastics, allow the proliferation of these discarded items into natural ecosystems.

Many of us are familiar with the image of soda can rings posing danger to marine animals from a couple decades ago, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Microplastics create an estimated $13 billion a year in losses from damage to marine ecosystems (not to mention the severe degradation to natural capital suffered by animals and their habitats), as well as financial losses to fisheries and tourism.

Changing the perception of “single-use” plastics (and all plastics, for that matter) is needed to create and strengthen systems that will capture these materials for recycling, divert them from landfills, and decrease virgin production in lieu of more regenerative resource structures.

Head & Shoulders bottle made from beach plastic.

Head & Shoulders bottle made from beach plastic.

The global World Oceans Day is June 8 (originally celebrated at the urging of Canada in 1992), but every day is a good day to find and cultivate ways to engage communities and make resources for clean ocean actions accessible. My company TerraCycle teamed up with Procter & Gamble, one of the largest consumer goods companies in the world, to create bottles made with recycled beach plastic for Head & Shoulders (the #1 shampoo brand in the world) and Fairy (the UK’s #1 dishwashing brand) in Europe.

Seeing plastic waste for what it is, a nearly-indestructible, highly polluted manmade substance that requires a manmade solution, is the first step to reevaluating our dependence on it as a raw material, and thinking twice before throwing it in the trash. Creating a market for recycled plastic, especially beach plastic (difficult-to-recycle because of its exposure to contaminants and UV light, depreciation, and mixed material makeup), by integrating it into the production of products consumers buy every day is one way to do that.

These initiatives strive to create value for all plastic while raising awareness of plastic pollution, an issue is too large to tackle without help from large numbers. Engaging the public is crucial for significant change. A Greener Future, one of TerraCycle’s partners, involves the public through litter cleanups, educational programs and events.

Rochelle Byrne, A Greener Future's Executive Director, with two super-sacks full of beach plastic from Love Your Lake 2017.

Rochelle Byrne, A Greener Future's Executive Director, with two super-sacks full of beach plastic from Love Your Lake 2017.

One of its programs, Love Your Lake (now in its third year, May 26 – August 25) tackles the pollution in Lake Ontario head-on in over 100 locations, last year collecting 2 super-sacks (over 72,000 pieces of trash) worth of rigid plastic that was recycled through TerraCycle's Beach Plastic Cleanup Program.

Taking the time to educate oneself and others on the issues facing the safety and security of our oceans and waterways, including plastic pollution, is an important activity that carries an impact year-round. The website for the Government of Canada has an extensive World Oceans Day section with an overview of the observance, ways to get involved, and links to helpful resources on ocean monitoring, aquatic species at risk, fishing and environmental science.

No matter how far from the coast you live, World Oceans Day is a celebration to mobilize governments, businesses and everyday people around our connection to water and the ocean. This year’s theme and action focus of preventing plastic pollution highlights an issue we can all work to take action on year-round, and empowering oneself with the knowledge and awareness of things you can do will help to change the perceptions and habits that shape our world.

Enter to Win!

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We're giving away a Zero Waste Kit on each of our social media channels, and one through our website, click the buttons below or leave a comment on this blog post to enter. You may enter in all four locations .

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Open to USA & Canada. Legal residents 18+ are eligible to enter. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to a direct message or email and if no response is given a new winner will be drawn. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media channel by which it will be promoted. Contest closes at 11:59 pm EST on Friday, June 8th. If you have any questions please send them to info@agreenerfuture.ca

We Picked Up The Most Commonly Accepted Form Of Litter


You might be thinking we’re crazy in saying there’s an acceptable form of litter, because throwing our garbage on the ground isn’t okay... right?

Right, but wrong. We’ve been exposed to people throwing their cigarette butts on the ground our whole lives. Those little pieces of rubbish may not seem like much, but cigarette butts aren’t biodegradable. That means every butt thrown out a window, stays on the ground, and isn’t going anywhere.

Well, they stay on the ground until someone comes by, and picks them up. Our team at A Greener Future are happy to announce the success of our third annual Butt Blitz! On May 6th, volunteers all across Canada took their butts outside to pick up the ones off the ground.

As you all know, our forever mission is to reduce waste to create a happier, and healthier Earth for everyone. That can be hard to do with all of those cigarette butts on the ground. Lucky for us, TerraCycle Canada has a cigarette waste recycling program so that those little pieces of accepted litter can be repurposed into something better.

Last year, A Greener Future and our volunteers picked up 122,800 cigarette butts to send in to TerraCycle’s program. With an ambitious goal of 200,000 butts this year, our volunteers set foot outside on the morning of May 6th to pick up as many butts as possible.

Our volunteers made a significant dent in reducing the number of cigarette butts polluting our environment. With 25 Butt Blitz events from coast to coast, we managed to pick up a total of 223,354 butts! 

We would like to extend our thanks to everyone who coordinated and participated. You helped eliminate a huge amount of litter in Canada on May 6th. We hope to see all of our butt-picking buddies at next years event! (Mark your calendars for Saturday, May 5, 2018)