This past month, Matthew Bicknell, an outdoor enthusiast and local Mountain Equipment Co-op run club leader, began a challenge that would open his eyes to a far-reaching and often overwhelming problem: single-use plastics winding up in places where they have no business being.
Matthew signed the #BePlasticWise pledge and started getting outdoors with his MEC run crew to clean up the places they hold close to their hearts: the local trails, shorelines and parks of North Vancouver where he runs weekly with a small group.
The group took the “plogging” challenge: a Swedish fitness trend that means “picking up litter while you jog.” Not expecting to find much litter in their forested neighbourhood, the runners were staggered by the amount of disposable plastic trash discovered in their backyard. They were equally surprised by how few people it took to make a difference. “I was really impressed by the amount of plastic our group was able to collect and the impact a small amount of people can have.”
Matthew noticed a large amount of the plastic was single-use. The convenience of single-use plastic packaging, bags and bottles comes with a hefty environmental price tag. “This month’s challenge really made me more aware of the plastic in our everyday lives, especially single-use plastics,” he said.
Through the plogging challenge, Matthew says his team now understands the impact single-use plastic can have on the places we love. Throwaway plastic that ends up on park trails, near creeks and streams can eventually make its way to the ocean and other waterways, posing huge threats to ocean life.
Everyone has a role to play in protecting the ocean and the places we love. Matthew recommends starting with simple yet meaningful changes. Make the switch from a plastic toothbrush to an alternative material like bamboo, for example. Or gather a group of friends to get out for a plog.
“The important thing is not to get discouraged. It can seem overwhelming to tackle everything at once, but by setting achievable goals you can make significant impacts,” said Matthew. “Start by plogging for the first 10 minutes of your runs and hikes, or investing in a few crucial reusable products to curb your single-use plastic waste”.
Join MEC and Ocean Wise. Take the #BePlasticWise pledge to help protect our oceans and planet, sign up here: www.ocean.org/pledge.