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Carleton University takes on the Plastic Free July challenge
Plastic Free July is a movement that challenges people to reduce using single-use plastics and to encourage sustainable habits every day. Plastic Free July is a personal challenge that is part of a global effort to reduce our overall plastic consumption, creating cleaner campuses, streets, oceans and communities.

The Challenge?

Choose to reduce or refuse single-use plastics in July (and beyond!). Switch out plastic items by finding sustainable alternatives that can become new habits forever. With everyone making one small change, we can create a collective impact in reducing our carbon footprint.

You are encouraged to embrace the 5 Rs of Zero Waste: Refuse / Reduce / Reuse / Recycle / Rot –and in that order–to reduce the plastic waste you generate.

Keep track of your plastic footprint.

While the challenge overall is to go plastic-free, we may end up having to use some type of single-use product. To keep track of your plastic footprint, place your single-use plastic waste in a “Plastic Tracker” Jar.

The idea of this challenge is to try to reduce your waste as much as possible. Your goal is to fit all your single-use plastic waste destined for the landfill into a 1L jar (reuse a pasta jar!) This challenge gives us a visual snapshot of how much plastic consumption we typically produce in a given month.

Let's make an impact. Take the Plastic Free July Pledge.

We will be posting frequently on our social media and website on plastic-free tips throughout the month of July! Share your stories and photos of how you or your household is avoiding the use of single-use plastic. Show us your plastic swaps and other zero waste ideas by tagging us on social media using #CUPlasticFreeJuly and tag @SustainabilityCarleton on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to be featured.

How to Have a Zero-Waste Event

Plastic Free July kicks off July 1st on Canada Day. Large events such as Canada Day is one of our largest waste generating days of the year as we often produce more food waste, disposal of single-use items, and often leaving behind litter.

Recently, Ontario Parks has seen an increase of litter from visitors in their parks:

Visitors who come for just the day may leave even more behind, as they bring everything for a disposable family barbecue, like disposable cups, plates, cutlery, tablecloths, and all of the wrapping and containers. Many of which end up scattered on the ground.

So while we do still think of our parks as clean environments, visitors cause our parks to produce tonnes of garbage from these clean and natural environments.

Here are some tips to celebrate without the waste:

  • Use what you have. Bring reusable dishes, utensils and cups and wash them afterwards.
  • Have leftovers? Reduce your food waste by bringing reusable containers with you or your guests to take home.
  • Bring food without the plastic. You can also find a variety of food with plastic-free packaging (i.e., fruits, veggies, and nuts).
  • Opt to buy decorations that can be kept and reused or go thrift shopping.
  • DIY food you would normally buy in the packaging, such as making homemade chips, dips, granola, popsicles, etc.
  • Leave nothing behind. Make a conscious effort to continue to recycle, compost and dispose of waste even while you are celebrating.
Read more tips here!

Keep in mind that these zero-waste event tips can be applied beyond Canada Day to future events. Remember being zero-waste or plastic-free is just about doing what you can. Aim for effort rather than perfection.
Carleton University is committed to embedding continuous environmental and sustainable improvement to further enhance performance in all our operations. A commitment to sustainability allows for us to reduce our collective impact while ensuring that both existing and future generations of students, staff and faculty continue to enjoy our unique campus.

Have a sustainability-related event that you'd like to share? Feel free to submit it by submitting it here.
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