As spring turns to summer here on the West Coast, talk of holiday travel and visitors has lately been giving way to the pressing environmental concern of plastic in our oceans. With the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch — also known as the Pacific Trash Vortex — now double the size of Texas, people are more interested than ever in taking action.

But where to begin? Reducing plastic consumption is not easy, when plastic is used in almost every consumer product we use. Education and leadership are critical in developing everyday solutions that will mitigate the problem. Renowned Canadian artist Douglas Coupland recently launched “Vortex,” an exhibition at the Vancouver Aquarium that allows visitors to visualize the vast quantity of plastic in our oceans, as well as insight into which everyday plastics are the biggest culprits. The thought-provoking display inspires visitors to make conscious adjustments to their daily purchasing habits.

The threat of single-use plastic, like water bottles, to the ocean are moving into mainstream conversation.

While lost or discarded fishing gear makes up almost half of all the debris in the Pacific Trash Vortex, single-use plastics are strewn throughout. Plastic bottles, bags, and straws are discarded by the millions every day around the world, but they’re actually some of the easiest plastics to eliminate from use. In fact, every person who chooses a reusable water bottle over single-use bottles saves an average of 156 plastic bottles from disposal in just one year. For a company or hotel to commit to a reusable water bottle program over plastic, the impact can be in the hundreds of thousands of plastic bottles saved from landfills every year.

It isn’t only primary plastics like bottles and straws that are an issue, either. Those single-use plastic items never break down; instead they break up, into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics. Recent studies show these microscopic pieces of plastic are not only contaminating our oceans and ecosystems, but also making their way into the consumable contents of plastic water bottles, bringing the plastic waste problem full circle for humans. Ninety-three per cent of bottled water brands were found to contain the plastic particles, with an average of 325 pieces of plastic being found for every litre of water sold.

On Thursday June 21, Ocean Wise hosts its annual fundraising gala, Night at the Aquarium. Vivreau Sustainable Water Systems is a proud partner of this event and is excited to kick-off a long-term partnership with Ocean Wise.

“The impact of corporate environmental programs is one Vivreau has been passionate about making accessible to our partners in North America for the past 10 years,” says Vivreau North America CEO, Drew Hamilton. “We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with Ocean Wise and the Vancouver Aquarium, like-minded organizations who are leading the charge in sustainable, environmental stewardship.”

For corporations, environmental stewardship can be very powerful, if the goals are sound, and the results measurable. Replacing plastic bottles with a sustainable, pure water source is often one of the first actions that can produce such a measurable result, the success of which is often a catalyst to further sustainable actions and involvement.

“Since 2008, Vivreau systems in North America have replaced the need for more than 52 million single-use plastic water bottles,” said Hamilton. “We look forward to seeing how we can further improve environmental sustainability in the years to come.”

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