An event aimed at promotion alternatives to plastic attracted strong turnout at the local library branch on Saturday,
Four organizations were involved with organizing the event as part of Earth Week activities: the Council of Canadians – Campbell River chapter, Campbell River Environmental Committee, Sierra Club – Quadra Island chapter and Citizens for Quality Health Care.
“We’ve got about 40, 50 people through so far, and we’ve just opened,” said Richard Hagensen of the Council of Canadians. “We’ve got some displays in there … on the bad things about plastic and the pollution.”
This included containers, polystyrene foam packaging, cling wrap, even bread clips. These also showed alternatives to plastics such as wooden utensils, water bottles, cellulose sponge clothes and paper straws, though in some cases these items still came wrapped in plastic when first purchased, showing just how pervasive the material is.
Single-use plastic bags are one of the main targets, and the groups have asked the city to consider a ban on them.
“A lot of people think single-use plastic bags are easy to recycle,” Hagensen said.
In some cases, he said some plastic, which is recycled here and which many assume is being used for new products, may end up being shipped overseas and incinerated or sent to landfills in other countries. Some of this, he added, also ends up in the ocean.
Throughout the afternoon, the group played ran videos on the use of plastic bags in grocery stores as well as the Earth Day beach clean-up on Quadra Island.
While the message was serious, that didn’t stop a bit of fun. The Council of Canadians’ Glenda Woodward took some inspiration from a friend that could not attend and decided to make a playful costume out of plastic items, including a grape bag for a hat, plastic lids for earrings and plastic Chinese food containers as a brassiere.
“I reuse them again for food,” she added. “It all eventually be recycled.”
The organizers want to continue to put pressure but have also developed a questionnaire for local stores about their own use of plastic.
“We’re hoping that the city council here, as other city councils have done in B.C., actually starts to initiate a plastic bag ban, and maybe plastic straws and other plastic materials too,” Hagensen said. “That’s our goal at this point.”