Archive for October, 2018

Marine Plastic Pollution: What Can We Do About It?

Posted by pauloneal

The problem of ocean plastics isn’t something new: it’s been known to have a serious effect on marine mammals for the past few decades.

Yet it is only recently that we learned, society as a whole, that we humans cause more marine pollution than previously documented.

Plastic bottle rings are not the only major plastics polluting the ocean, contrary to popular belief. Plastic water bottles, straws, chip bags, and cigarette butts are also swept into the ocean.

When 80% of marine plastics originate from land, this is no laughing matter. According to Our World in Data, the other 20% is no better: fishing nets, lines, and poles from fishing industries are dumped into the oceans.

From Land to Sea: How Does Plastic End Up In Our Oceans?

But how does plastic on land end up in our oceans?

One way plastics are swept into oceans is by leaving them, like chip bags and water bottles, behind on beaches. When the tide rises, or the wind or rain dislodges these plastics, they are swept into the ocean.

Another way is when someone litters on the side of the road.

Littering on the side of the road, even when you’re not anywhere near a beach or open water, can still move the waste into the ocean. Rainfall sends discarded litter – like plastic cup lids, newspaper, and cigarette butts – in the drains.

And when these plastics reach open oceans, marine mammals often mistake floating pieces of plastic for food. These plastics look similarly like the food they’d eat – but they just do not know the difference.

When these animals ingest them, the plastics obstruct their stomachs. They think they’re full – when in fact they received no nutritional value from the plastics. These animals often become severely malnourished, bloated, and worse – injured from the sharp plastic edges that cut their stomach lining. Internal bleeding leads to death.

How does marine plastic pollution affect us?

The unfortunate truth is that worrying about our marine mammal friends’ health may be one of the last things we think about on a day-to-day basis.

When we’re rushing to work, waiting for the bus, and worried if we’re going to make it work on time during rush-hour traffic, we often aren’t thinking about ocean plastics and the health of these animals.

But one easy way to remember what we do has an impact on the animals, is by thinking of the plastics we end up ingesting when we eat seafood.

Microplastics, although rarely cause harm to animals by themselves, are a danger to our own health.

Imagine eating seafood that has minute flecks of plastic – that we threw into the oceans ourselves!

Pretty gross, right?

If plastic isn’t good for us to consume – then it shouldn’t be good for animals, any animal –  marine or land – to consume.

So if we take better care of our littering and disposal habits, we may be able to curb plastic pollution from further reaching our oceans. The food we eat will be insurmountably healthier, without microplastics. And these animals will be able to flourish in their ecosystems without dying from plastic-related deaths.

What can we do to reduce marine plastic pollution?

There are many ways to help prevent and reduce marine plastic pollution.

Some of these ways can be as simple as throwing your garbage away properly. Instead of throwing your plastic bottle or coffee cup on the street, or just a few feet away from a garbage can, place it inside the can. This will prevent wind and rain from transporting your waste into waterways, like sewage systems.

If the bins are full – often during busy beach days – then find another place to dispose of them, or take your garbage home with you to throw out. Garbage left lying around, unsecured can be torn apart by seagulls and other animals, spreading the litter around. The litter then will end up blown into the ocean.

Another way is to use less plastic on a day-to-day basis, whether by reusing more or reducing your use of plastic products.

One popular way to help reduce marine plastic pollution is by organizing a cleanup! This could be a great team activity for your office or workplace, or even for schools. Spend some time picking up litter by your home, school or work, or the beach if you have one nearby.

Because of the different ways, waste can end up in our water streams, all efforts to reduce litter is equally important.

Together – we can reduce waste going into our water streams, and make our world a more sustainable, healthier place to be.


This post is part of our community blog initiative. 

Canadian Mattress Recycling is regularly posting new blog posts about environmental issues that impact British Columbians, and the world. This month’s post is written in support of the Ocean Legacy Foundation, an international non-profit organization that uses geospatial mapping, research, and expeditions to help clean-up marine waste. We are pleased to have supported the OLF since 2016, donating $900 to the foundation to help clean up our BC shorelines and the Pacific Ocean.



Our World In Data – Plastic Pollution

Plastic Adrift

Tips for a Zero-Waste September

Posted by pauloneal

Back to school is a busy time of the year. Families return from vacation only to have work and school on their minds. Dealing with traffic on the way to work, and on the way back from work to pick up your children from school can make you want to pull your hair out! Even commuting to and from college and work can be stressful, with the new school year in session.

Because of this, going zero-waste may be the last thing on your mind. You might find your zero-waste habits slacking off, so here are some tips to help you continue your #PlasticFree efforts in September!

Tip #1: Pack your lunch in a reusable lunch box, or bring an empty container with you.

This applies to kids, college students, and even those heading back to work after a blissful summer vacation. Even if you don’t plan on meal prepping for the next day, bringing a lunch box you can reuse can reduce the need of a single-use styrofoam container if you end up buying lunch. Instead of using plastic containers or wrapping leftovers in napkins at work, you could toss those office snacks into a reusable box instead. Single use plastics and styrofoam containers creep into our daily lives more often than we realize!

Another habit you can form is meal prepping. Meal prepping helps reduce waste by making sure you buy food you know you’ll eat before they expire. Always try to use up all the food you buy for the week, to reduce food waste. Sometimes buying bulk produce is not the best way to go – especially if you’re only cooking for yourself. Learn to meal prep has an obvious benefit, too: it reduces your stress in the mornings scrambling to pack a lunch before rushing to work or school. Homemade meals can be healthier than fast food, so meal prepping is good for both you, your wallet, and the environment!

Tip #2: Pack a reusable spoon and fork or a set of chopsticks.

How many times do you have office lunches that use a lot of plastic cutlery? Why not bring a set of forks and spoons from home (or chopsticks if you feel adventurous) for the occasional office lunch? You don’t need the fanciest set of reusable cutlery, just something that can help you say ‘no’ to plastic forks and spoons easily.

Tip: toss a set of reusable forks and spoons in your work bag the night before, or keep a spare set in your bags so you’ll never forget them in the morning.

Another thing you can do in offices is to supply reusable cutlery, or have enough on hand so that when the occasional lunch happens, your entire office can be plastic-free and zero-waste!

Tip #3: Bring a reusable mug or a tumbler to work (or school).

Any reusable mug can help you eliminate single-use coffee cups and plastic bottles. Say no to single-use styrofoam cups in the office kitchen! Sorting waste can be a hassle in shared spaces, like offices and schools. To avoid the hassle entirely, why not bring a reusable mug and avoid generating waste in the first place?

Tip #4: Make it a group effort!

As it becomes easier to live a zero waste lifestyle, why not get your friends, classmates, and colleagues involved in it too? It can be as simple as taking the initiative to speak with your child’s teacher, or putting in a suggestion for your office space to become zero-waste.

There are costs associated with transitioning to a zero-waste office or classroom, but the environmental benefits will be priceless. Not to mention some actions you can take to transition are small steps.

It can be as simple as having mugs for drinking water and coffee, instead of using plastic cups. It can be as simple as switching from using paper napkins to hand towels. It can be as simple as saying ‘no’ to plastic bags or cutlery when ordering take out.

Every effort counts. Your coworkers might find your zero-waste efforts interesting too, strike a conversation, and join you in your zero-waste lifestyle. Or for parents, someone in your child’s class may find their zero waste and recycling diligence interesting and ask about it, learning good habits along the way.

Tip #5: Make it count!

Motivate yourself by counting how much money or time you save.

Instead of having to replenish your stock of zip lock bags for your child’s lunch at the shopping mall during weekend rushes, switch to using a reusable lunch box saves you time and money. You’ll find yourself dropping by a store for ‘essentials’ less often, saving you time and fuel.

Another way to make it count is to see how much you save by using a reusable mug or tumbler at local coffee shops. Some cafes in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland offer discounts on coffee if you BYOM. The nickles and dimes add up and soon you’ll be amazed at not only the extra change in your wallet — but also the change you’re making for the environment.

What an amazing deal!


What are some of your back-to-school zero waste tips? Share it with us on social media, and tag us at @cdnmattrecycler on Twitter or @canadianmattressrecycling on Facebook!


Canadian Mattress Recycling Inc., is the premier facility for mattress and furniture recycling in the Lower Mainland. Based out of Annacis Island, we pick up old mattresses and furniture across Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. Since 2011, we have recycled over 21,000,000 lbs of mattresses and furniture and supported over 90+ organizations and charities involved in environmental preservation and the community.

The Circular Economy: What is it and why we need it

Posted by pauloneal

In Vancouver, British Columbia, the circular economy is thriving.

The total number of green jobs has increased by over 600 in Vancouver alone since 2010. And across the rest of British Columbia, circular economy businesses and social ventures provide over 13,000 jobs, says Vancouver Economic Commission in a 2018 report.

We’re not alone, either: the Canadian waste management industry generates over $7.3 billion a year (Statistics Canada, 2015).

These figures highlight yet another significant trend – Canadians are becoming more waste-conscious. Movements like #plasticfreejuly and annual awareness weeks like #WasteReductionWeek are helping educate residents about how we can all transition to a waste-free future.

But when it comes to the circular economy, you could be asking yourself: what is it and how does it apply to you?

Limits to Growth

It might be surprising to learn that the concept of a circular economy isn’t exactly new.

It was mentioned as early as 1972 when an MIT research team released a report called ‘The Limits to Growth‘.

They modelled a scenario about what would happen if the human population kept growing in a world with limited resources.

The results were worrisome: it showed that if we didn’t change our consumption habits as a society, there’s only so much the Earth can provide for us.

The report warned that we’ll reach the limit of Earth’s resources by the end of the 21st century — if we don’t shift to a greener, sustainable economy (Meadows et. al, 1972).

The Circular Economy

Over the years, the concept of ‘limits to growth’ became the building blocks of the circular economy we know today.

In a circular economy, waste materials (known as material outputs) are repaired, reused, recycled, or remanufactured instead of being thrown away in landfills (RCBC, 2018). Instead of needlessly throwing goods away at the end of their life cycle, these materials are reused as the building blocks of new products.

The circular economy doesn’t just stop here, though: it also supports product manufacturing and R&D. In this case, products are made with the end in mind. Companies ask: what would happen to a product when it’s of no use anymore? Does it get thrown in landfills? Recycled? Does it biodegrade? If not, can we make it biodegradable? Or can we design products to last?

Source: Adidas: Shoes made from recycled ocean plastics

Major companies like H&M, Patagonia, and Adidas are all involved in the circular economy. And many local Vancouver & Canadian brands are part of the circular economy too: Novel Supply Co, Free Geek, Wood Source Co-op, ChopValue Manufacturing, Royal Printers, and West Coast Wood Works to name a few.



There is much to celebrate these days – including the businesses, institutions, and residents involved in the circular economy. Yet there is still much more to be done. It just so happens to be Waste Reduction Week next week from Monday, Oct. 15th to Sunday, Oct. 21st across Canada – where we invite you to join us and hundreds of other businesses and residents to raise awareness about waste reduction in Canada! From topics such as the circular economy to food waste, every day next week presents a unique topic that hopefully will inform and inspire.