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Plastic Free July Challenge!!

During the month of July both of our summer students participated in the “Plastic Free July” Challenge. The challenge is to avoid using all single use plastics. Any single use plastic (Ziploc bag, saran wrap, takeout cup etc.) that they did use they had to save in a “dilemma bag”.

As July is coming to a close, the “dilemma bags” will become public! On Thursday, July 28th at 11am, Ridge Meadows Recycling will be hosting its first live stream! Visit to watch our summer students reflect on their plastic free experience – and go through their “dilemma bags”. Tune in and ask questions or share your plastic free experience!

Here are Annie & Taylor’s perspectives on their experience so far…


Annie Goodwin - Plastic Free July 2016Hi! I’m Annie, one of the Recycling Society’s summer students and I am participating in the Plastic Free July Challenge. For the month of July I am trying to reduce (ideally eliminate) my reliance on single use plastic. Any single use plastic item I do use I have to put into my “dilemma bag” which I will post a picture of at the end of the month.

It is now July 15th and I have gone plastic free at the movies, the bar, restaurants, a backyard barbeque and even a first date. So here are my thoughts and reflections on this challenge at our “halfway point”:

Things I finally don’t feel awkward saying:

  • “no bag please” and “no straw please”
  • “May I please get this in my own container/a cardboard box instead/my own mug/water bottle?”
  • “I actually brought my own, thank you though”

It’s been two weeks of this challenge, so most of my friends and family know about the challenge (and keep me very honest!). I’m finding I’m not explaining why I have my own cutlery/bags etc as often as I was in the beginning. This may be because everyone already knows, or because I’m starting to become more comfortable with it.

Things I haven’t found plastic free alternatives to, or am finding difficult to go without:

  • Tortillas and crackers without any plastic packaging. A lot of the plastic free websites and guides recommend making your own- but I find that a little intimidating. Unfortunately I do have some packaging from these items in my dilemma bag.
  • I am embarrassed to admit that I don’t want to give up my shampoo and conditioner for the plastic free options available at Lush. I do buy the largest bottles I can, so they do last me about two months.
  • Sunscreen/Moisturizer that is affordable and doesn’t come in plastic. My moisturizer does come in a glass bottle, which I love- but it still has a plastic top/pump. I haven’t been able to find any sunscreen that doesn’t come in plastic, which is unfortunate because I’ve been going through a lot with this great weather.
  • Yoghurt that doesn’t come in plastic. I’ve noticed this with other dairy products as well, but yoghurt is one of my go-to quick breakfasts and I have been missing it.
  • Deodorant- I cannot find a non-plastic deodorant anywhere. Even the all natural/ aluminum free ones come in plastic. I really don’t think a homemade baking soda deodorant is going to last through my work day, never mind when I go for a run or a long day hike.

Plastic free things I think I’m doing well- or am proud of:

  • I have finally started making my own hummus (apparently I’m late to this party- has everyone else been making hummus forever without me?). It is so easy to make and so delicious that I’m embarrassed to admit how many (plastic) packages of hummus I’ve bought in my lifetime.
  • I was out buying new sheets last weekend, and I found a great organic cotton set of sheets that was packaged in a organic cotton bag (that I am now using to carry my gym shoes). The packaging for these sheets consisted only of 2 small pieces of cardboard and it made me so irrationally happy.
  • The paranoia of what my orders will be shipped in (layers on layers of plastic!) has effectively curbed my online shopping habit- which is definitely for the best.


Taylor Robinson - Plastic Free July 2016Hello! I’m Taylor, one of the summer students at Ridge Meadows Recycling. I’m more than halfway through the Plastic Free July Challenge, and I must say, it’s been very interesting. My goal was to eliminate as much single-use plastic from my life as I possibly could. Before starting, I definitely wasn’t aware just how much plastic was being used for my food, purchases, and hygiene. I was confident in my success; I really didn’t think this would be that hard. I rarely took plastic utensils and always re-used them, I already had a re-usable water bottle and containers, and I was pretty sure that my food didn’t use that much plastic.

Boy was I wrong.

I still live at home, and my mother, frustrated by my dietary restriction for the month, asked me to try picking up some groceries. So, I perused our normal grocery store, only to find that all of my favourite foods came with plastic! Tofu, cereal, cheese, berries, granola bars, bread… At your typical grocery store, it seems that almost everything comes in plastic, and then they offer you more plastic to carry it all. I’d never really noticed it before, and I was surprised, to say the least.

Some things I found particularly challenging:

  • My own forgetfulness! On the first day of the challenge, I went to a friend’s house, and they had Chinese food. I was halfway through a fortune cookie before I thought about the plastic it was wrapped in. It also takes a lot of diligence to stop workers from giving me plastic – bags, cup lids, straws, you name it. It also takes a lot of diligence to stop family and friends from giving me plastic.
  • Personal hygiene products. I haven’t been feeling particularly adventurous with these. I guess I’m somewhat attached to the products I know and use. I do plan to start buying bamboo toothbrushes, but I’m not sure I can trust homemade deodorant, lip balm, or shampoo.
  • Dairy products. During the school year, there are at least 5 people living in my house at any given time, so we always buy the big plastic milk jugs. I haven’t seen any cheese without plastic packaging. Cream cheese, another staple in my house, also has no plastic-free alternative that I’m aware of. And when looking for a morning option that didn’t have a plastic bag like cereals do, I came across a delicious-looking recipe for cold oatmeal, which I was very excited about until I noticed that it needed Greek yoghurt. Yoghurt, of course, seems to always be in plastic. So it’s back to the drawing board for me!

While I’m certainly more comfortable bringing my own cutlery, containers, and bags everywhere now, I must say that this challenge has been a big wake-up call for me. I had no idea how much plastic was needed to sustain my lifestyle, especially my diet. To be honest, as someone who really cares about the environment, I’m kind of ashamed about it.

Some things I’ve done well, and some things I plan on doing:

  • I don’t have a single plastic utensil, shopping bag, or bottle. I’ve gotten much better at asking cashiers to forgo the bag and at bypassing any awkwardness when I buy items in my own container.
  • I’ve completely stopped personal use of saran wrap and sandwich bags, and I exclusively use reusable containers. I’m also planning on buying some Abeego, a natural alternative to saran wrap.
  • It is my intent to buy more local, plastic-free food, particularly in the summer.
  • I will be purchasing some reusable bags to buy bulk items, and I’ll store them in my own containers (probably used plastic peanut butter jars). Until then, I will bring my own containers to grocery stores for bulk food. They weigh them at customer service, so that when you check out, the weight of the container is subtracted from the weight of the food (this does take a little explaining, but I think it’s worth it to bypass the unnecessary plastic).

After this month, I’m going to stop holding on to all my plastic, but I’m not going to give up my goal to reduce my waste in general, particularly my plastic waste. Who knows, I may even start making my own deodorant!

Bear-Resistant Organics Totes, Solar Cones, Composters, & Rain Barrels On Sale Now!

NOTE: Composters & Solar Cones are SOLD OUT for 2016. We will order more in Spring, 2017.

As part of an effort to gain Bear Smart Community status, the City of Maple Ridge will be subsidizing 400 bear-resistant organic bins for Maple Ridge residents. The bins will be available through Ridge Meadows Recycling Society along with our annual sale of Composters, Solar Cone Food Digesters, & Rain Barrels. Residents can pre-order any of these through the online form below, by visiting the Maple Ridge Recycling Depot at 10092 – 236th Street, or by calling our office at 604-463-5545.

2016 Bear Resistant Organics Bin, Solar Cone, etc. ad - Feb.12, 2016

“Every year, hundreds of bears in BC are destroyed as a result of getting into garbage or organic bins,” says Dan Mikolay, Wildsafe BC Coordinator for Maple Ridge, “These bear-resistant bins, when properly used, discourage bears from seeking food sources in residential areas.”

“The goal of the Wildsafe BC program is to ‘keep wildlife wild and communities safe,’” Mikolay continues, “Council’s generous subsidy goes a long way toward achieving our goal.”

Bear Smart Community Logo 2015The containers are also a major criteria to Maple Ridge achieving Bear Smart Community status this year. This special status was created to address the root causes of bear/human conflicts, and, thanks to its investment in the Wildsafe BC program since 2012, Maple Ridge is poised to become the first Bear Smart Community in the Lower Mainland.

With Metro Vancouver’s Organics Disposal Ban coming into effect last year, people are paying more attention to what happens with their food scraps.

The bear-resistant bins, which look like regular rolling totes, have reinforced lids and a locking mechanism. The 120 litre (32 gallon) bins will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Residents will be asked to pre-pay for the bins and either pick them up from the Recycling Depot or request delivery. Retail value of these containers is $200. Bulk purchase price is $150. With the $50 subsidy from the City of Maple Ridge, the first 400 Maple Ridge residents will be able to purchase the bins for $100.

Solar Cone Food DigesterSystern Rain Barrel 2013composter - no backgroundBear-Resistant Organics ToteThe bins are being sold along with our annual sale of Solar Cone Food Digesters ($125), Composters ($65), and Rain Barrels ($70). To place your order, fill out the form below…

Order Form for Solar Cones, Rain Barrels, & Bear-Resistant Organics Bins

Please place your order below. After your form is submitted, we will contact you to arrange payment & delivery. Thank you for helping keep our planet green!
    *Note: The City of Maple Ridge is providing a $50 subsidy for Bear-Resistant Organics Bins to Maple Ridge residents ONLY. Residents of Pitt Meadows can purchase bins for $150. Rain Barrels, Bear-Resistant Bins, Solar Cones, & Composters only available to residents of Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows.
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Jobs, Rain Barrels, Earth Day Photos, & More! RMRS May, 2016 Newsletter Now Online

In 2016, we are switching from our pdf newsletters to online versions through MailChimp. This allows us to embed links to take you directly to more information. Let us know how it works for you!

Click to view our  May, 2016 Newsletter which includes our Victoria Day Holiday schedule, info on ordering Rain Barrels, photos from Celebrate Earth Day 2016: ENERGY! and the LAST Committee’s Transition Resource Fair

May, 2016 Newsletter - screen shot