Photo: Ditch the plastic with a reusable tote

(Credit: nadio via Flickr.)

Canadians use about 10 billion plastic bags each year, which take approximately 1.5 million barrels of oil to produce. Much of our non-biodegradable plastic waste ends up in the oceans and has accumulated into what is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — a swirling sea of debris that is roughly the size of Texas and poses major risks to ocean animals and ecosystems.

In response to our growing plastic burden, many municipalities have banned these disposable bags altogether. Some stores now charge a fee for plastic bags while others offer a "bring your own bag" discount. Ditching plastic bags is an easy way to help reduce unnecessary waste, so join the movement and take the reusable-bag challenge.

Some people resist switching to reusable cloth bags because they use the plastic ones to line their garbage cans. Consider which trash cans in your house, either in the bathroom, bedroom or office, don't need liners at all. Focus on recycling, composting and reducing the overall amount of garbage by making smart purchases. If you still need a liner for your garbage, make sure to pick up some biodegradable plastic bags at your local grocery store.