Let’s talk plastic. Single-use plastic, more specifically. It’s convenient, isn’t it? Especially when it comes to packaging, shipping, selling and storing food and household items. Plus, what’s the big deal? It can be recycled, right?
Well… the truth is, less than 10 per cent of plastic used in Canada actually gets recycled. Read that again. We throw away most of our plastic. It ends up in landfills and incinerators, parks and beaches, lakes and oceans. Canadians will actually throw away around $11 billion worth of plastic every year between now and 2030, according to the federal government.
It’s a global epidemic, and one that needs to be addressed large scale through legislative change. But, it can also be addressed through small change, in every house and businesses in Canada. And two women in Kelowna are bringing the movement to reduce plastic use home - to the Okanagan - through an amazing initiative called Plastic-Free July.
What is Plastic-Free July?
Kristen Bounds and Kirsty Symmons are the passionate people behind Plastic-Free July Kelowna. The campaign originated in Perth, Australia, to encourage people to reduce every day plastic waste. Kirsty, who’s originally from Australia, saw potential for the campaign here in Kelowna, and brought the idea to her friend Kristen Bounds. Together - and with support of Farm Bound Zero Waste - they launched Plastic-Free July Kelowna in 2019.
The goal of the Kelowna initiative simple:
To encourage consumers and businesses to look for alternatives to single-use plastic.
To help us re-evaluate our plastic needs, showing that incremental change can be easy.
and to build a movement that will change the way we think about plastic in general.
So far, 16 local businesses have partnered with Plastic-Free July Kelowna (scroll to the bottom for the list), offering discounts to customers who bring reusable bags, cups or takeaway containers when shopping or ordering food.
There are also a stamp card available, which can be used at participating businesses. Fill out all 10 spaces, then bring the card to Farm Bound Zero Waste and receive 10 per cent off your purchase, plus you’ll be entered into a draw to win a gift basket full of locally-sourced sustainable products.
The Plastic-Free July Kelowna Instagram account also provides resources and other ideas to help people reduce single-use plastic waste during the month of July (and ideally every month going forward).
“It’s just about trying to encourage businesses and the community to work together (toward) the same goal,” says Kirsty. “Businesses want to be more environmentally-friendly, and consumers want to me more environmentally-friendly, and (we are ) linking those together.”
They add that it’s not about forcing a one-size-fits-all approach to the reduction of single-use plastics.
“Everybody has different means (of reducing plastic use),” says Kristen. “And one way works for some people, and another works for others. If that means they are just bringing a reusable coffee up every day (that’s great). It’s not just about going plastic-free, because that’s unattainable for a lot of people. It’s about doing what you can to make conscious decisions every day.”
At the end of the day, they say, it’s about teaching people to be conscious consumers.
“Put your money where you want to see change,” says Kirsty. “Invest in reusable products and refuse other products. Those types of things tend to make big changes over time.”
Kristen and Kirsty add that it’s important to let Kelownaites know what shops and restaurants are making an effort to reduce their plastic waste.
“We understand that plastic plays a role in businesses", says Kristen. ”But we want to drive traffic to the businesses that are doing whatever they can within their means toward reducing single use. It’s all stepping stones in the right direction.”
Farm Bound Zero Waste (Kelowna) (which helped launch and sponsor the initiative) is offering 10% off your purchase - and a chance to win a zero-waste prize basket - when you fill out your stamp card and bring it back to the store.
Sprout Bread (Kelowna) is offering 10% off when you bring a reusable mug or bread bag throughout July.
Naked Cafe (Kelowna) is offering 10% off all year long when you bring in a reusable coffee cup. If you bring reusable takeaway containers, you’ll also get 10% off during July.
Bean Scene (all locations) offers a discount to customers who bring in reusable containers.
Salty Caramel Kitchen (Lake Country) is offering $1 coffees to people who bring reusable mugs during July, and $1 off any other drink when you bring a reusable cup.
Ambience Cafe (Kelowna)
Bliss Bakery on Ellis St. (Kelowna) offers 10% off to customers who bring reusable cups.
Public Liquor (Kelowna - by the airport) is offering 5% off your purchase this July if you bring your own reusable bag when shopping.
Eat Clean Kelowna (Kelowna) is offering 10% off when you bring a reusable coffee cup or juice cup.
Bulk Barn (Kelowna) usually offers its customers 10% off on Wednesdays when they bring their own container, and now is giving the same discount for the entire month of July.
Oranj Fitness (Kelowna) is offering a 10% discount to anyone who brings in their reusable cold cup for a vegan superfood smoothie during July.
Pulp Fiction Coffee House (Kelowna) is offering 10% off during July for anyone who brings reusable cups.
The Market Bags will be offering 10% discount on handmade market bags during the month of July, promo code PLASTICFREEJULY.
We Clean Earth Store (discount code: KELOWNA2019)
Miiko Skin Co is offering participants 15% off any online order using the promo code plasticfreekelowna. There won't be any plastic in the order (except the lids and labels), and customers can then go to The Green Vanity to refill the products.
Bee Moore Kind is offering a discount code REDUCE for all orders placed through Instagram, Facebook and email.