Action of the Week!

Priority!! This week, prior to the June 26 meeting of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, we need to urge the NS Government, primarily Premier McNeil, and his environment minister, Gordon Wilson, to ban single use plastics and to support EPR (extended producer responsibility). Please read on:

Here is a sample letter (with Lunenburg political contacts included)

What and why: There is a meeting in Halifax of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment next week (June 26, 27).  This should be the perfect time to get some concerted action on plastic pollution.  Trudeau recently announced the path to banning Single Use Plastics and support of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) which requires manufacturers to be financially responsible for the entire life cycle of a product, particularly its reuse, recycling or final disposal.

Nova Scotians are ready for action limiting single use plastics.  In May, a survey by Dalhousie’s AgroFood Analytics Lab showed that nearly 90% of Canadians, including Nova Scotians, knew SUPs have negative environmental consequences, want to reduce their use of SUPs and feel that there should be stronger regulations to reduce plastic use.  Canadians feel that all levels of government should be involved in these regulations.  70% favour a ban on single use plastics in food packaging. 

Growing awareness of the pervasive nature of plastics in our food chains, leading not only to deaths of turtles and whales mistaking plastics for food, but also accumulation of microplastics by filter feeding molluscs and fish and eventually ingestion by humans.  Adsorption of organochemicals, industrial pollutants and excreted hormones and pharmaceuticals make these ingested microplastics even more dangerous.  

Plastic Free St Margarets, PFL and many other groups concerned about the state of waste management and climate change have been following these issues for many months. These are not political issues. They concern the financial health of our people, our province and the survival of our planet.

On June 5, 2019, the NS Federation of Municipalities gave their long researched proposal for Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging and Printed Paper to the NS government saying, “The taxpayers of the province have been paying the bill for too long and NS Municipalities think it is time that the producers of the waste pay their fair share”.  By passing legislation on EPR, Nova Scotia’s municipalities could enjoy the same benefits as their counterparts in the rest of Canada.

The McNeil government is at an all time low in popularity: as of June 7 it was rated at 16% by an Angus Reid poll. It has only undertaken minimal initiatives to stop climate change and done little to tackle the mind-boggling amount of plastic waste. Most Nova Scotians who take our environment seriously do not respect this government. The continuous lack of positive environmental actions has lost this government the support of a very large sector of the population. If the McNeil government expects to reclaim that support, much needs to be done. It’s not too late to start.

Now is a crucial time to demand the government take care of our province. If you are concerned about excessive levels of plastic in our lives, please make your concerns known to our government.  It is most effective when citizens write their own letters about what concerns them, so feel free to paraphrase my arguments and consult the linked documents. 

List of Requests

  1. Request the NS Government to support the Federal Government initiatives on a ban of single use plastics in Canada.

  2. Request the NS Government to support the Federal Government initiatives to control climate change in Canada.

  3. Request the NS Government to ban single use plastics. Currently, Municipalities in NS are individually struggling to create bylaws banning single use plastics because the McNeil government refuses to take provincial action.  HRM has repeatedly requested the province to take action so that all NS municipalities have the same rules.

  4. Request the NS Government to support the proposal by the NS Federation of Municipalities for Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging and Printed Paper.

Please write Premier McNeil, the Minister of the Environment, Gordon Wilson, your MLA and your MP. 

Contact Emails for Government

Relevant background documents

  • NS Federation of Municipalities Proposal on EPR for Packaging and Printed Paper

Archive Actions (still awesome to do)!

BYOC: Bring your own container. You are awesome. You are aware of the plastic proliferation problem, you are concerned, you are making personal changes. What’s next in moving your habits to a post-single use plastic lifestyle? Always being ready with your own container - for groceries, bulk items, take-out food or your restaurant leftovers. Rather than accepting the vendor’s disposable packaging, wrapping or container, tell the them you want your own container filled.

Two key facts about BYOC:

1) Food vendors ARE ALLOWED to refill customer containers. Read more in our Q & A section.

2) You never know when you are going to need a container - so always be ready. Consistent rules (bylaws) help actions like BYOC become habits. Until regulation is in place, customers face a mixture of options and forming new habits is hard.

Thank a local business owner who has chosen to reduce their sale and distribution of single use plastics, such as plastic carry-out bags, produce bags, straws, single-serving condiment packages, cutlery, take out cups, containers and lids and beverage bottles. By voting with your wallet and letting owners and managers know you care, it encourages them to accelerate their shift toward more sustainable business practices.

Refuse the plastic produce bag! Many fruits and vegetables don’t need to be in plastic - in fact, plastic makes many produce items spoil faster. There are lots of alternatives: buy them as is (unbagged), bundle them into your own cloth or mesh produce bag, or put them in a paper bag.

Bring your own water bottle and refill as you go. Many businesses will happily refill your water bottle with tap water. Look for the blueW sign in participating shops and restaurants — or just ask! Read more about blueW here.

Switch to bar cleansers and cleaners. Soap, shampoo and laundry bars are often sold with no or minimal packaging. They are often more economical because you are not buying a bunch of water with your cleaning agents. They can have a lighter carbon footprint too, because they don’t require shipping a bunch of water.

Do you rely on single use grocery bags for bin-liners, cat litter, and other household uses? There are non-plastic alternatives for all of these purposes. But to start, take a look at how many bags already come home from the grocery store that are not carry-out bags. Bread bags, chip bags, milk bags, bulk produce bags, cereal bags.... Try using these bags for household use. You won't miss the carry-out bags.