During the city’s plastic awareness month in October, councillor Janice Morrison says she peeled the plastic off a cucumber at the grocery store till and gave the wrapping to the cashier.
“The cashier said, ‘What am I supposed to do with that?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know, but I am not taking it home.'”
Morrison was collecting and monitoring all her consumer plastic throughout the month of October, a challenge undertaken by all council members.
She decided to separate her plastic into three categories: plastic allowable as curbside recycling, plastic that has to be taken to the RDCK transfer station and plastic that can’t go to either.
“That was one takeaway,” she said, “the stuff that can’t be recycled at all, like meat wrapping, the plastic rings on beer cans, and my casino card.”
Morrison said she made some attempts to reduce her plastic use during the month.
“The biggest one was when I purchased meat I had them repackage any packaged meat with butcher paper. I left them with the plastic.”
Councillor Jesse Woodward says his family decided not to try to reduce its plastic use during the month.
“We did not make radical moves because I wanted to know what it was we were dealing with. So that bag is what we, a three-person family, had in a month.”
His family learned that they could easily cut their plastic use in half.
“It would just mean making some conscious choices in the store,” Woodward said. “There are many ways with very little inconvenience to say no to buying things in a big clamshell, or saying I was going to buy that product but I am not going to, I am going to buy a different product — just modulating yourself throughout the month.
“So that was a good exercise. I suggest everybody try that out for a month and get a good read on it.”
Asked if Nelson council can really make a significant difference in reducing plastic pollution, and if it is really the city’s job, Woodward said in an email, “Of course anything Nelson as a city does makes 0.000000001 per cent difference on a global level, but we can be a model of what a small town can do. As other small towns see what is possible the may follow Nelson’s lead and you compound this by hundreds of other small towns and that is when real change begins to make an impact.”
In response to the same question Morrison said, “Refuse management, garbage, which includes plastics, is part of the city’s responsibility. People expect water, sewer, power, paved roads, safe communities and their garbage picked up and taken away.”
The plastic awareness month was a joint project of the city and the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce, whose executive director Tom Thomson said there were already many businesses reducing plastic in the community.
“That is what we wanted to focus on, some of the good news stories that were already coming out of the community. We need to keep it moving along so whether it is a one-month initiative or continues for longer I think there are a lot of things businesses are doing, and others are saying, ‘Hey, those guys are doing it so there is no reason why we can’t.'”