While Environment Canada is studying the ecological risks of plastic microbeads found in body scrubs and toothpastes, José Luis Gutiérrez-García argues that the federal government should just ban these tiny particles already.
“There have been many studies,” Gutiérrez-García told the Georgia Straight by phone from North Vancouver. “The studies have all been conclusive. We have to stop doing studies. It’s time for action.”
Gutiérrez-García is the project director and cofounder of Upcycle the Gyres Society (or UpGyres), the nonprofit behind the upcoming Clean Up the Oceans Concert. On Saturday (July 4), the fundraising event will take place at the Prospect Point picnic site in Stanley Park.
According to Gutiérrez-García, attendees will be asked to sign a petition demanding that the Canadian government prohibit the use of microbeads—which are neither biodegradable nor captured by sewage-treatment plants—in consumer products. In March, the House of Commons passed NDP MP Megan Leslie’s motion calling for microbeads to be declared a toxic substance.
Founded in 2012, UpGyres is working on solutions to marine plastic pollution, which Gutiérrez-García asserted is killing sea life and poses a danger to human health. The nonprofit is developing a “trap” to keep plastic microfibres—found in synthetic clothing—out of washing-machine effluent.
Gutiérrez-García noted that UpGyres plans to collect plastic in the oceans and convert it into crude oil and other resources. He claimed that “millions of barrels of oil” could be produced from plastic in the oceans.
“We actually need to prove and demonstrate that it is not only a sustainable enterprise but it’s a profitable enterprise, so that governments and corporations are more inclined to help,” Gutiérrez-García said.
Vancouver’s GreenSeeds Music Society, Gabe & the Oh Yeah’s, the John Pippus Band, and DJ Stamina and Victoria’s Tan and Hide will perform at Clean Up the Oceans. Tickets cost $50, with proceeds going to UpGyres.
Gutiérrez-García is urging people to walk, cycle, or take transit and bring reusable water bottles to the event.
“For everything that is single-use plastic,” he said, “we should think, we should reconsider, we should refuse, we should reuse.”