You may have read some of our previous posts on the impacts of microbeads, found in an assortment of widely used cosmetic and hygiene products, including toothpaste. You may also have heard that the quintessential, cosy Canadian cover-up – fleece – has also been shown to shed micro-fibers throughout its lifespan. These micro-plastics are one example of seemingly minor issue amplified by global consumption – and research is showing that the problem of plastic pollution is a significant one.
Making the ‘right’ decisions as a consumer can seem a daunting task. In a global economy that rewards rapid consumption, most products are produced, distributed, purchased and disposed of without full consideration of a product’s impact on the environment (or our health) throughout its lifecycle.
Many organizations have formed to help address this problem, offering certification standards meant to facilitate informed consumer decisions. So in addition to considerations like ‘Fairtrade‘ or ‘FSC Certified‘, you can now also seek out certification that recognizes product lifecycle impacts, such as Cradle to Cradle product standards. Like LEED certification for buildings, these can be valuable tools. Yet, most products we buy lack comprehensive certification standards. This is where government legislation becomes important, especially concerning the responsible disposal of products at the end of their lifecycles. Our provincial government relies on the Waste Reduction and Prevention Act to inform waste reduction and product stewardship decisions in Manitoba. With this act as their guide, third party associations of ‘obligated stewards’ are then tasked with developing programs to comply with these provincial regulations.
Currently, our provincial government is conducting a review of product stewardship programs in the province. These programs decide who is responsible for what, and are integral to the proper recycling and collection of materials and products such as: paper and packaging, paint, fluorescent lights, other household hazardous waste, electrical and electronic waste, used tires, primary and rechargeable batteries, lead-acid batteries, unused medications, and mercury containing thermostats. This review includes a request for public feedback through Green Manitoba, so please take the time to let our government know what gaps you see in your area, so that we develop policies that protect and improve the quality of the environments we share. We will be doing the same.
Deadline for comment is Tuesday, October 4, submission guidelines in the links above.
We’re fortunate to live in a society that offers these opportunities for input and policy development. Let’s make the most of them.