Today, as the world observes Earth Day, the City of Sault Ste. Marie is encouraging the community to reduce its plastics usage through the launch of its Choose to Refuse: Take the plastic-free Sault Ste. Marie pledge campaign. The City, in partnership with Clean North, has developed a campaign that will both educate and promote a lifestyle that is not reliant on single-use plastics.
“In addition to the environmental and human health issues that single-use plastics cause, they place unprecedented pressure on our City’s landfill at a time when its end of life is on the near horizon,” says Councillor Gardi. “Households, businesses, schools and community organizations will be challenged to take part in the plastic-free Sault Ste. Marie pledge to reduce single-use plastics and take action to protect our environment.”
Federal regulations are in the works to ban harmful single-use plastics. This regulation will focus on six items made from hard to recycle plastics including grocery bags, straws, cutlery, six-pack rings, some takeout containers and stir sticks. These items were chosen because they are often not recycled and environmentally friendly alternatives are more readily available.
“The plastic-free pledge will support businesses in preparing for the federal ban on single-use plastics and encourages sustainable business practices by setting measurable targets,” adds Councillor Hilsinger. “As a City, we have a shared responsibility in working towards a more sustainable future. Clean North and the City of Sault Ste. Marie would like to show leadership and do our part to protect our community to make the plastic-free lifestyle a reality. Let’s go for the Gold!”
By taking part in this initiative, participants will make a pledge to audit their use of single-use plastics and set attainable goals to reduce and eliminate this waste by moving towards the use of eco-friendly alternatives.
“With the development of a plastic-free pledge, we can surpass these goals and strive to eliminate more of these harmful, single-use plastics from our community. This will be an excellent educational tool for use in all sectors and as people buy in, it will be a valuable bridge to a legislative approach. Once the federal government regulation is introduced, people and business will have an enhanced level of understanding and anticipated compliance,” says Susan Hamilton Beach, Director of Public Works.
The plastic-free challenge will also be taken by departments within the City. For example, community facilities and arenas continue to eliminate and reduce the use of single-use plastics with the addition of paper straws, wooden stir sticks, cardboard plates and take-out containers, ordering canned beverages without 6-pack rings where possible and utilizing products in cardboard packaging instead of film wrap.
Recently, the City was acknowledged by the Ontario Clean Marine Eco-Rating for its marinas – a program recognizing best practices to reduce and prevent water, air and land pollution associated with recreational boating activities in Ontario. The City of Sault Ste. Marie, situated at the hub of the Great Lakes, along the banks of St. Mary’s River, has an obligation to protect its marine ecosystem for future generations.
The time to act is now. Audit your single-use plastic consumption by reviewing the plastic-free checklist on the City’s website at www.saultstemarie.ca/PlasticFreeSSM. Take action to establish your own targets. The aim is for a Gold level standard, which would see a significant reduction of single-use plastics. Complete the pledge with Clean North at https://www.cleannorth.org/plastic-free-pledge/ and begin hitting your target today!