“Researchers estimate that up to 10,000 tons of plastic could end up in the Great Lakes every year,” says a Pollution Probe official
An environmental group is raising the alarm over growing concerns in Georgian Bay.
With an initiative called Plastic Free July that ended last month and National Beach Day (30 with the province’s Great Lakes.
De Young, who serves as Pollution Probe’s policy and programs director, said the movement is the largest single initiative of its kind in the world.
“We use traps to remove plastic and other litter in marinas beyond the Great Lakes,” said De Young, noting that her organization is heavily involved in the plastic cleanup of the Great Lakes.
“So plastic-free July suits us really well. The message that we are properly disposing of our plastic products is very important to us as part of the program. “
The Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup (GLPC) and their Little Bits, Big Problem campaign are also reminding residents and seasonal visitors how to protect the lakes this summer by spending time in their cottages.
“It is a great way for communities and individuals to get involved and advocate for the environment and play a role in preventing plastic from getting into the environment and our Great Lakes,” said De Young.
And with Labor Day holiday weekend approaching, De Young’s organization has also made a list of some cabin habits and how to adapt to more environmentally friendly alternatives.
As an example, she says those who wash in the lakes should always use environmentally friendly products, as chemicals in regular shampoos and soaps can harm nature and wildlife. She also stresses the importance of never burning trash to keep yourself warm on cooler nights as it releases harmful chemicals that can get into the water.
De Young said boaters also play an important role in ensuring Georgian Bay stays plastic-free by never throwing trash overboard, while everyone helps reduce plastic waste through their wallet by planning meals in advance and making sure to do so opts not to take the easy route by buying pre-packaged and / or fast food options
De Young said a number of marinas on the bay have signed up to encourage boaters to make sure they dispose of their trash properly and never throw away plastic.
But how big is the problem really?
While De Young notes that plastic found in the oceans receives a lot of attention, and “for good reason,” it is fairly obvious that it is a big problem in the Great Lakes as well.
“Researchers estimate that up to 10,000 tons of plastic could end up in the Great Lakes every year,” she said. “Well, it’s a pretty respectable number. And we know that plastics can have a lot of really negative effects on the environment and also on wildlife and ecosystems
“So we’re trying to do our part and make sure we’re not only removing plastic that has already found its way into the environment, but also encouraging people to make choices that prevent plastic from getting into the environment in the first place Place.”
Canada makes more than 1/3 of the plastic used in single-use products or packaging. This plastic is often not properly disposed of and, according to De Young, can end up in landfills and in our waters.
“There are many things people can do when they go around the lake,” said De Young. It’s important to collect all of your trash and recycling to bring home after a day at the beach or a boat trip.
“It’s also important to plan ahead and make sure you bring as little plastic with you as possible, including single-use plastic.”
The Great Lakes are home to over 3,500 species of flora and fauna and provide drinking water to more than 48 million people in Canada and the United States.
De Young said these small changes to hut, beach, and boating habits in the Great Lakes can make a huge difference and help preserve the communities and ecosystems that rely on them.
“Sometimes there is plastic floating in the water that can only be there because someone dumps it properly,” she said, noting that about 80% of the litter found on the Great Lakes coastline is plastic.
“According to our first data that we collected (as part of this program), there are definitely places where we have found higher concentrations, especially of microplastics. And that often corresponds to larger metropolitan areas and densities.”