Plastic is in our food and water: At five grams a week we are eating a credit card every week

The Downsview community has many proud homeowners, with countless manicured green lawns. The neighbourhood’s emerald gardens are a testament to another time’s concept of an oasis. Green, clean and neat, with rows of driveways in between. But even here you find plastic everywhere. Whether its plastic ties, bags, wrappers, bottles or straws. Plastic debris blow in with the wind but dig into any yard and you will find more of it in the soil. 

Most of us have come to accept plastic materials as part of our daily life without recognizing the impact that it has on our environment. It is flowing into our waterways at such speed, that it is changing life in the oceans.  In 30 years, scientists believe there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Today, there is an island of plastic in the Pacific larger than France. 

In Toronto, the problem is of a different nature. The oceans are far away, and Canada has some of the largest sources of drinking water in the world. Except, small plastic particles called microplastics are getting into everything we consume. Whether we drink water from the tap or from a bottle, we are ingesting tens of thousands of small plastic particles each year. A study estimates an average person is consuming 250 grams of plastic every year. That adds up to eating a credit card-size worth of plastic every week (in case you are wondering, tap water has is far cleaner of microplastics than bottled water).

We have been utilizing the blue bin recycling program for about 30 years here in Downsview. However, a number of recent news reports tell us that much of what we toss into the blue bin does not actually get recycled. Because much of the plastic we produce cannot ever be recycled and because of contamination of the materials, most of our plastic ends up in landfills or worse. Only about 10% of all plastic products ever made have been recycled. 

The long-term effects that micro-plastics will have on our health are still unknown, but we do not need a science degree to know the effects cannot be good. Plastic is poisoning our water, our food and our bodies. The only real solution is to stop using as much plastic in our everyday lives. We need to make the effort to switch to more reusable and biodegradable materials and avoid single-use plastics altogether. We need more reusable bags, reusable cups, reusable straws, less packaging in our products and less single use plastics. The recent push to eliminate single-use straws is a good starting place but we cannot stop there.

We are leaving mountains of garbage for the next generation. Let’s clean up our act and leave our planet in a better state than how we found it. 


Councillor Perruzza’s Motion regarding Imperial Oil Pipeline

Imperial Oil is looking to replace an existing pipeline spanning from North York to Hamilton. This line crosses the Downsview community by running underneath the Hydro corridor. Local City Councillor Anthony Perruzza presented a motion at City Council on May 14, regarding the replacement of the line in order to ensure that there is greater transparency and accountability in the process. This route carries refined oil product between Imperial Oil’s Waterdown Pump Station in Hamilton and the Finch Terminal near Keele and Finch.

Councillor Perruzza brought this construction project to City Council’s attention in order to provide our local government with an opportunity to become more involved in the proceedings. The project has been under the radar so far, but the City can further contribute to the project by demanding better safety measures and by holding all parties accountable. By becoming more informed, Councillors can spread awareness and advise their constituents on the impact of the project as it unfolds.

If the Ontario Energy Board [OEB] accepts the City’s application, then the City will have the right to participate as an intervenor. While construction projects of this nature have tight timeframes, City Staff want to be able to take the necessary steps to speak with experts in the field and seek legal counsel in order to assess the potential risks associated with the replacement of this pipeline. The environmental impact and by extension, the impact on residents needs to be properly addressed and mitigated.

While there is a public consultation set to happen in July, the information for that meeting has not been widely circulated.

City Council approved the motion at its meeting on May 15, meaning that Councillors as a whole want to participate and monitor the situation responsibly.

Please visit City Council’s website for more details about Councillor Perruzza’s motion:

Over 1 million students strike for the environment

Skipping school is not something that ought to be encouraged, but that is what 1.4 million students did world wide on Friday, March 15th. Young students from across the world, from New York to Berlin, to Mexico City, across all five continents, came out in the hundreds of thousands last week, in one of the biggest coordinated global demonstrations ever. 100,000 youth in Montreal alone participated.

They were taking part in what seems to be an unprecedented civic movement amongst youth. Most of the participants were not yet adults, but they are striking because they think that they do not have the luxury of waiting another 10 years. They are telling us that by then the planet may already be beyond the turning point of environmental salvation.

A recent study by the UN recently published gave us a collective deadline of 12 years globe wide to enact changes to our economy or be beyond the threshold of no return. We all know that people are having a significant negative effect on the environment. Some people may not care about it for different reasons. The oil industry wants to continue to burn fossil fuels, some people figure they may not be around for the worse part of the changes, others may not think the changes are serious. The youth participating think otherwise.

We hear a lot about millennials and how they vote and think differently than baby boomers. The next generation will have an even bigger contrast in values. Most millennials are actually in their 20s and 30s. The last millennials to enter University will do so this year and then a new group will start to be old enough to vote. The new generation, dubbed “generation Y” will have an even greater concern for the environment, because the facts and science demand it.

The reasons for this are clear. Study after study shows that man-made climate change is having a significant effect on our planet. It is the only planet we have. As a young person, feeling like they are not ever going to be able to buy a home may be difficult. It is more difficult now for a person with a median wage to buy a home than it was in the 1980s. It is hard to start a family that way. In fact, young people in significant numbers are starting to delay starting families for environmental reasons too, because they are worried about climate change.

We need to create a better future for our youth, and we need to listen. The youth are learning how to make change happen, the rest of us need to do better and catch up fast before it is too late.