Plastics: A Complex Issue

Plastics can be found in every aspect of our lives, and its widespread use has changed us as a society. On one hand, it has allowed many products to be manufactured more quickly and inexpensively; on the other, the environmental repercussions have been significant.

The amount of waste produced from plastics has created many complex issues, including negatively impacting the health of our oceans. Tidal currents cause discarded plastics to collect in many areas, where they are consumed by fish, mammals, and birds — trickling down into every part of the food chain (including humans). Between 60-80% of all debris found in the water are plastic — there’s a floating mass in the Pacific Ocean approximately the size of Texas.  And because plastics are an extremely durable material, they can take decades to breakdown once they are disposed, meaning they just accumulate in our landfills. Since the 1950’s, over a billion tonnes of plastics have been thrown away. This number is almost incomprehensible to most of us.

Thankfully, things are slowly beginning to change. Advancements in plastics technology have made some forms of plastics biodegradable — allowing them to disintegrate when exposed to water, or sunlight. Recycling programs have expanded in many cities to include more options for processing.

More recently, innovative businesses like The Plastic Bank have developed, placing more value on plastics — in turn encouraging the collection, recycling, and reuse of more of these materials in developing countries. All these steps begin to address the issues of how to deal with the overabundance of plastics in our country, and throughout the world.

At Green Coast Rubbish we work together with the North Shore Recycling Drop-off Depot for soft as well as numbered plastics, and for blended plastics and PVC piping we utilize Blue Planet Recycling Ltd. In 2013, we helped keep over 2 tonnes of plastics from our landfills and oceans. We were happy to see that Vancouver has recently changed its blue box program in May 2014 to include clamshell packaging (and more).

There are many kinds of plastics, and the rules of what can and can’t be recycled can get confusing. The David Suzuki Foundation has an excellent list which explains the differences, and various types.

Though recycling is an excellent way to help keep more plastic waste out of our landfills, ultimately, being mindful at the point of sale is important too. Plastic items will be stamped with a number on the bottom (designating how & if that material can be recycled). If there is no number present, there is a good chance that item will end up in a landfill. Being informed about your purchases before you buy is the best way to ensure you’re choosing items that are good for you, while still being good to our environment. Reduce when you can. Reuse what you’re able. Recycle when it’s done. Our environment will thank you for it!

Make Memories, Not Garbage

In less than a week, Christmas will be here. Many of us find ourselves feeling stressed this time of year, trying to frantically cross things off shopping lists, trudging through crowded malls to stand in line for items that we’re not even entirely sure people will want. There are times when you are thrilled to find the *perfect* thing, but other times it feels more obligatory… buying stuff because we feel it’s what’s expected. Do we really need more?

There is a solution that can help ease the personal chaos of the season, while giving those you love something that will last infinitely longer than the latest toy, or a new appliance.

Metro Vancouver for several years in a row has promoted the ‘Create Memories, Not Garbage‘ campaign. And we couldn’t agree more! We love the idea of giving the gift of experiences, rather than things. Putting aside time to do special activities with those you care about, and establishing memories together. Many of us can look back on Christmases past, and are not able to recall many of the gifts we were given. But we fondly remember road-trips with our families, game nights, or going out to a great restaurant with a friend or sibling. Here are a few ideas that might spark your imagination this holiday season:

  • An afternoon at Science World or the Vancouver Aquarium.
  • Theatre or Concert Tickets.
  • Memberships to the Vancouver Art Gallery.
  • Art or cooking classes from Community Centres.
  • Ski/snowboard passes for local mountains.
  • Exploring VanDusen Gardens.
  • A short trip to Tofino, Whistler, or Harrison Hot Springs.
  • Dinner and a Movie nights.
  • If you are skilled at something, offer to teach someone who wants to learn — knitting, cooking, woodworking — the sky’s the limit.
  • … the opportunities are endless!

Gifting experiences allows you to give something meaningful, while also helping to cut back on the waste that ultimately ends up cluttering our landfills. But, if you are still looking for something to put under the tree (while avoiding busy malls and big box stores) is to find unique, locally made gifts, and supporting the work of artisans and businesses closer to home.

From everyone here at Green Coast Rubbish, we wish you and your family a happy and memorable holiday!

© Lindsey Turner

© Lindsey Turner

Fueled by Biodiesel

Green Coast just got bigger, better and a little more green. We are extremely fortunate to have recently hit a milestone, our 7th birthday, and to be experiencing a very busy 2013 to-date. In order to keep up with the demand for a greener and cleaner future we have expanded our carrying capabilities with an addition to our fleet-a GMC W4500 truck which will be 100% fueled by Biodiesel.

What is Biodiesel? Biodiesel is a non-toxic, biodegradable bio-fuel derived from high free fatty acid feedstock (aka. restaurant grease, vegetable oil, cooking oil, animal fats) that are put through a process called Transesterification; combining the oil with an alcohol (typically Methanol, sometimes Ethanol), and a catalyst (usually sodium hydroxide). The result of this exchange is a chemical reaction which produces glycerin and an ‘ester’ or organic compound called Biodiesel.

Thanks to the Vancouver Biodiesel Co-op, which is the Lower Mainland’s ONLY consumer source of 100% pure recycled, ASTM certified and locally sourced Biodiesel we continue to strive towards sustainability and the reduction of our Green House Gas (GHG) footprint

Since 2010, we have been involved in the Climate Smart Program for businesses, and we have been able to measure our carbon footprint. As such have been able to plan and action ways to reduce our carbon emissions. Running our vehicles on alternate fuel sources is one of our key reduction strategies and we are ecstatic to be a member of the Vancouver Biodiesel Co-op! 

Green Coast is committed and passionate about reducing our GHG Footprint, and by fueling our new carrier with Biodiesel, we are ensuring a lower vehicle emissions, therefore reducing our overall GHS footprint as we continually work towards a smaller impact on our planet and resources. 

Recycle Your Christmas Tree!

Yet another Christmas day has come and past and now you are faced with the decision of what to do with your Christmas tree? We at Green Coast are asking you not to toss it, but recycle it responsibly! 

If you live in Metro Vancouver there are plenty of options for recycling or composting your green beauty. To help you achieve this, we have put together a comprehensive list of local facilities, tree chipping events and environmentally friendly solutions for recycling your Christmas tree this holiday season.

North Shore

First and foremost, you can compost your Christmas tree by including it with your regular curbside “Green Can” collection materials. Just be sure that it is cut and bundled into piles no larger than 3 feet by 1 foot. Or, if that seems like too much work, you can support one of the many local tree chipping events listed below:

North Vancouver Lions Club

Location: Karen Magnussen Community Centre – 2300 Kirkstone Road, North Vancouver, BC.

Location: Highland Chevron – 3150 Edgemont Blvd, North Vancouver, BC.

Date & Time: Jan. 6th from 9:30am to 3:30pm

Cost: By donation

Seymour Scouts (11th and 13th)

Location: Parkgate Village Shopping Centre – Mount Seymour Road, North Vancouver, BC.

Date: Jan. 6th from 9:00am to 4:30pm

Cost: By donation

City of North Vancouver Firefighters

Location: RONA – 1160 East 3rd Street, North Vancouver, BC.

Date & Time: Jan. 5th from 8:30am to 4:30pm

Cost: By donation

Ambleside Tiddlycove Lions Club

Location: Ambleside Park – 13th Street and Marine Drive, West Vancouver, BC.

Date & Time: Jan. 1st to Jan. 6th – Weekdays: 12:00pm to 4:00pm; Weekends: 10:00am to 4:00pm

Cost: By donation

Source: North Shore Recycling Program 

Vancouver

For residents of Vancouver with regular green waste pickup, you can include your Christmas tree with your curbside recycling until January 31st. To leave it curbside, the tree must be unbagged and placed at least 3 feet from the wheeled carts before 7:00am on collection day.

Alternatively, you can drop your tree off for free at the Vancouver Transfer Station Recycling Depot-377 West Kent Avenue N, Vancouver, BC. If neither of those options work, you can always drop off your tree at any of the tree recycling events listed below:

Lions Club Christmas Tree Recycling

Location: Kerrisdale Community Community Centre – 5851 West Blvd, Vancouver, BC

Location: Kits Beach – Parking lot by Cornwall Street and Arbutus Street, Vancouver, BC.

Location: Sunset Beach Upper parking lot by Pacific Boulevard and Broughton Street, Vancouver, BC.

Location:  RONA – 2727 East 12th Avenue, Vancouver, BC.

Dates: January 7th to 8th

Christmas Tree Recycling at UBC

Location: UBC Botanical Garden – 6804 South West Marine Drive, Vancouver, BC.

Dates and Time: Dec. 26 to Jan 8th from 9:30am to 4:30pm

Cost: $5 donation (suggested)

Burnaby

If you are a resident of Burnaby, you can drop off your Christmas tree for free at the Burnaby Yard Waste Depot-4800 Still Creek Avenue, Burnaby, BC.

Richmond

Single-family homes in the City of Richmond can include their Christmas trees with their curbside pickup, but make sure to cut and bundle the tree into 3 feet x 2 feet piles. You can also take your tree to the City of Richmond Recycling Depot-5555 Lynas Lane, Richmond, BC.

Source: Vancity Buzz 

Please recycle or compost your Christmas tree this holiday season. It’s the green thing to do!