After speaking and planning with the Tour de Sustainability team for over a year about this trip, I hopped on the train with my bike and finally met up with Anya and Maria in Amqui, QC. As luck would have it, I joined them for the rainiest part of their trip, it rained 3 of the 4 days I was with them from Amqui, QC to Moncton, NB. It was so great to see Anya and Maria and hear firsthand about all of their experiences during the cycle trip across Canada. These ladies are machines!!
During our first stop for lunch at a roadside café somewhere near Matapédia, QC we decided to eat outside to continue enjoying the lovely day. Good job we did ’cause it rained for the rest of the afternoon! Our food came in styrofoam containers just because we were eating outside on the patio. I am sure our table was closer to the kitchen than some of the tables in the dining room. This got us into a conversation about plastic and how our culture is so quick to use disposable items. During our continental breakfast the next morning at the hotel (so generously booked for us by some colleagues in Campbellton, Thank You Jocelyn and Bob!) all of the plates, utensils, cups, and condiments were wrapped in and made of plastic! After breakfast we headed off towards Bathurst on a beautiful ride along La Baie de Chaleur. During the many pedal rotations I decided to write a guest blog for Tour de Sustainability about plastic and Anya has held me to it!
The poster above depicts the way we have come to rationalize using disposable items made of plastic. ‘Throwing it away’ saves time on cleaning and money on staffing. So where does all of this plastic go when we ‘throw it away’? While we are currently recovering about 5% of it, much of it eventually makes its way to one of the 5 gyres in our oceans which then gets mistaken for plankton and eaten by sealife which gets absorbed up the food chain and eventually makes it back into our own diets. So much for ‘throwing it away!’
So big deal if we eat a few pieces of plastic in our seafood. It shouldn’t change the taste, right? Well, plastic leaches harmful chemicals within our water systems, wildlife, and in our own bodies! Here is a cheeky video that might not be too far from reality.
Even the amount we do recycle gets down cycled to less valuable products which eventually end up with the same destiny. It might be time for us to start rethinking the way and frequency with which we use plastic.
Once you start paying attention and avoiding using single use plastic, it becomes second nature. This goes beyond carrying your own bags to the grocery store, although this is a good start. This means being ready to refuse certain products if they are packaged in plastic, saying no to straws, bottled water, and using containers instead of plastic wrap. Mason jars are super handy and multi-use! In fact, you will probably even begin to notice that food that isn’t stored in, wrapped in, reheated in, or served on plastic actually tastes better! If you don’t believe me give it a try for a few weeks.
“Plastics are made to last forever, designed to throw away” 5 gyres.org
If this is something of interest to you and you would like to learn more here’s another great website worth visiting: http://plasticpollutioncoalition.org/
Despite my plastic rant, the bike trip was fantastic. It felt great to bike through my home province and I felt so accomplished after biking 470km in 4 days and blown away by the enthusiasm in Anya and Maria as they crossed 7000km (now well past 9000km). Covering distances by bicycle makes our communities, provinces, and even our country feel more scalable to human pace and life. Way to go Tour de Sustainability – All the best to Anya and Maria on the last leg of their trip!