Students call for action to prevent climate change and a ban on plastic bags and straws during a protest outside city hall in Campbell River on April 5, 2019. Mirror File Photo

Carihi Mirror: Students want movement, not just talk, on environmental issues

‘We’ve been left with this but don’t want it, and we’re the ones who will have to deal with it’

As the clock ticks down to the year 2030, the predicted “year of no return” for climate change, many Campbell River residents and Carihi students are hoping to see more local action.

On April 12, 2019, students from Campbell River schools participated in a strike for climate change. These students voluntarily walked out of their afternoon classes and protested outside of Campbell River City Hall, some bringing along signs and posters bearing calls for action.

Climate protests occur regularly around the world in the “Fridays for Future” movement, started by Swedish student Greta Thunberg. Campbell River’s climate strikes were initiated with the goal of urging the city to ban plastic bags.

Avery Buck, a grade nine student at Carihi, is an active participant in these strikes.

“I’ve participated in two of Campbell River’s climate strikes so far, [and] am going back this Friday,” Buck says. “My personal goal is to make people understand how bad [climate change] actually is and how much it’s going to impact us as young people with plenty of time ahead.”

Buck has noticed a drop in attendance at the strikes, but is optimistic.

“I say that it only takes one person to make a difference,” Buck says. “I’m more than happy to be [that] person. But [students] need to remember that the point of these strikes isn’t to miss school. Many students only strike when it’s convenient, but that isn’t the reason we’re here.”

In terms of action, students have ideas for combating climate change both as individuals and as a community.

Gabby Mergaert, a Grade 11 student at Carihi, feels that many plastic products should be banned.

“I think that [we] should ban plastic bags at our stores… [and] if it’s possible, that Tim’s… Starbucks, etc. should stop giving out plastic cups,” Mergaert says. “And definitely eliminate plastic straws in this town.”

Grade 10 student Jannik Schneider doesn’t feel that enough awareness of the effects of climate change are present in Carihi or Campbell River.

Schneider also feels that people should focus on environmentally-friendly transportation options.

Schneider says he, for one, walks everywhere it’s possible and takes public transit if it’s not.

He also uses reusable bottles and lunch boxes rather than disposable cups and paper or plastic bags.

Buck feels that Carihi and Campbell River as a city need to step up their level of action against climate change, specifically saying that more options for recycling and composting would be helpful.

Carihi senior Alena Giesbrecht agrees that compost options would be beneficial.

“My old school had compost bins… if someone didn’t finish their food [they] could throw it in the compost,” Giesbrecht says. “That would be a good addition [to Carihi]. Plus it could be used for the garden once it’s soil.”

Climate change is a growing problem that the young people of Campbell River are urging every person to acknowledge.

“I want people to know we’re scared, and it’s not like a monster under the bed,” says Buck. “It’s [everyone’s] biggest fear, but it’s real. We’ve been left with this but don’t want it, and we’re the ones who will have to deal with it.”

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