A Plastic-Free Queen's Campus

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The members of the Society for Conservation Biology Kingston, a student-run chapter of a larger national organization, would like to propose a transition towards a plastic-free campus. In partner with Queen’s administration, vendors, and groups on campus we are hoping to completely replace the use and distribution of plastic products on campus with sustainable alternatives in the near future. It is our responsibility to ensure that we do our utmost to reduce our impact on the environment. Students at universities across the globe have been championing this cause, and as a collective we have the ability to spearhead the implementation of this change at Queen’s.


Many of us have seen the gruesome images of the Great Pacific garbage patch located in the Northern Pacific Gyre or photos of aquatic life such as whales, fish, and turtles affected by waters overflowing with plastic. These sites have not only become alarmingly common scenes over the past few decades, but their negative consequences on our environment and health are tremendous.

In Canada, recycling has often been touted as the solution to the issue of our country’s ever-increasing waste production. However, scientific studies on waste management have shown that recycling does not promote a behavioral change towards reducing the consumption of these harmful materials. The reality is that not all materials we place into our blue and black bins end up being recycled. Materials that can be profitably recycled go through the process, but those that cannot are diverted to landfills.

Additionally, Canadian municipalities contract out waste disposal, which results in recyclable materials being exported to foreign processing plants. This practice has resulted in increased carbon footprints from transportation emissions. The current widespread mechanical recycling process also degrades the quality of materials and uses potent chemicals that must also be safely disposed. It does not altogether resolve or even begin to address the issue of the ever-increasing production of plastic worldwide.
 
Queen’s University has shown us that our voice as students matters, so please show your support for the Plastic-Free Campus initiative by signing below. Make sure to include your @queensu.ca e-mail, so that your identity as a Queen’s student can be confirmed. It is time for us to take the next steps in upholding our school’s environmental values!

References: 

1. Blatchford, A. (2017, November 13). Trudeau urged to take action on Canadian garbage stranded in Philippines. Retrieved from https://globalnews.ca/news/3858621/justin-trudeau-canadian-garbage-philippines/

2. Liu, Z., Adams, M., & Walker, T. R. (2018). Are exports of recyclables from developed to developing countries waste pollution transfer or part of the global circular economy? Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 136, 22-23. doi:10.1016/j.resconrec.2018.04.005

3. Sun, M., & Trudel, R. (2017). The Effect of Recycling Versus Trashing on Consumption: Theory and Experimental Evidence. Journal of Marketing Research, 54, 293-305. doi:10.1509/jmr.15.0574 

4. Taylor, J. (2017, November 26). Horrifying images show devastating impact of plastic pollution as idyllic Caribbean waters choke in rubbish [Digital image]. Retrieved from https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/gallery/horrifying-images-show-devastating-impact-11589617

 



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