Plastic Free, Can You Do It?

By Aish Ravi Shankar

Going plastic free can be daunting and intimidating, and it’s easy not to know where to start. As someone who has been passionate about environmental change for almost a decade, I still use plastic every day. Whether that’s pushing toothpaste out of a plastic tube every time I brush my teeth, or as I buy my dog treats that come in a plastic bag. Plastic is convenient, and that’s exactly what makes it difficult to let go of. I know I still have significant changes to make in order to create less waste and consume less plastic. On a consumer level, Canadians throw away over 4.4 million tons of plastic waste every year, and only 9% of that is recycled (that’s equivalent to 31 blue whales, which are the largest animals in the world!)! Ironically, 14 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans globally every year. Imagine how many animals are falling victim to plastic ingestion and getting stuck in plastic.

If you’re interested in learning more about plastic pollution in the ocean, watch Craig Leeson’s A Plastic Ocean, which highlights the consequences of plastic pollution on marine environments globally. Leeson and a team of researchers and scientists travel to 20 locations internationally to explore how fragile the oceans have become and the solutions applicable today.

Being informed about environmental changes and the consequences of global environmental issues such as plastic pollution is one way to be a part of the climate change movement, but there’s much more to it!

Start small: Start by bringing a reusable bag to the grocery store. Nationally, plastic bags are being phased out anyways, so unless you want to be paying for an extra fabric bag that’s going to sit in the bag of your car collecting dust, bring one from home!

Trade plastic for reusable: Another step is trading in your plastic for something reusable. Instead of reaching for a plastic water bottle to bring for a walk, bring your own reusable water bottle! You can even bring a reusable coffee flask to coffee shops and ask them to fill that instead of the plastic coffee cups they provide. Some even provide you with a discount for doing so. What a great bonus!

Homemade: Trust me when I say sometimes it’s easier to buy out of convenience. Whether that’s buying lunch or snacks, or cleaning products, or even dog treats. However adding some time to your schedule to make homemade products can save you money, save the planet and add to your health! In 14 studied households, levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) went up during cleaning, adding to bad indoor air quality!

Buy products that are plastic-free or low waste: A small change that I’ve made in my life is using soap bars instead of bottles of soap. When I use soap bars, it comes in a paper box I can recycle and when I’m done using them, there’s no waste. You can even buy toothpaste tabs that come in a box, eliminating plastic toothpaste tubes. To make your brushing routine more environmentally friendly, you can also buy bamboo toothbrushes which can be composted and bamboo is a sustainable resource which is another bonus!

Get Active with your Local Chapter: Another way you can create change with your neighbors is to get active with your local chapter. We have chapters across Canada and we would love to have you onboard. Support your local chapter through donations, or join our membership for updates on events and local news! We would love to have you join the team as a volunteer! If you’re interested in volunteering with us get in touch by emailing us at

Even though Plastic Free July is now over, it doesn’t mean your plastic-free journey needs to come to an end. Try to educate yourself and implement small changes to your life to reduce plastic consumption and fight climate change. Here at Sierra Club Canada, we’re right there cheering you on every step of the way! You got this!