A group of Fort St. James students will be asking the district on June 14 to implement a ban on single-use plastic. Over 100 letters from students will also be submitted during the presentation.
“There will also be a letter asking for the ban from other recycling and environmental organizations. Some students will speak to council as well as representatives of these organizations,” said Gail Hiebert, grade 3 elementary school teacher at David Hoy.
On June 14, other citizens of Fort St. James will be asking for a ban as well, she said, adding people can add their names to the list of supporters by calling the district office and voicing support for the cause.
Students in the community have been investigating the role plastic plays in our lives and world.
Hiebert said that even though using plastic is convenient, it has come at a cost.
“Most plastics today are made from synthetic polymers that are man-made, using oil, natural gas or the chemicals that can be made from them. There are greenhouse gas emissions all along the plastic production and manufacturing chain.”
Plastic is everywhere and incorporated into everything, and Hiebert said that most people have 10 plastic things within an arm’s reach.
In Canada, nearly 3 billion single-use plastic bags are used each year. And according to the government of Canada, 3 million tonnes of plastic is thrown away each year.
However, Hiebert said recycling is not the only solution to the amount of plastic being used as a very small percentage of plastic items that can be recycled, actually are. As per government of Canada statistics, only 9 per cent is recycled while the rest ends up in landfills, waste-to-energy facilities or the environment.
Meanwhile, animals and birds are also impacted by the use of plastic.
According to Nature Conservancy Canada seabirds, fishes, turtles and marine mammals are found to having fishing gear or plastic bags in their stomachs.
Approximately 700 species, even endangered species have been impacted by plastic. More than 100 aquatic species have been found to have microplastics in them. Plastic can pierce organs or block the digestive tract, causing death. Currently, marine litter is 60 to 80 per cent plastic.
Some solutions that Hiebert mentioned were providing food in environmentally safe ways such as cardboard clamshell containers that are recyclable that some businesses are providing in the community.
Hiebert said people can remember to bring their reusable bags, water bottles, food containers when they go out and say no to straws, stir sticks and styrofoam.
“It takes some remembering to bring your reusable stuff, so put your kids in charge of remembering to bring them. Put your kids in charge of sorting the recycling too, because this is the world they will inherit. They have a vested interest in making sure it’s sustainable and healthy,” she said.
Hiebert said Canadians cannot wait for the federal government to act as the needed legislation may take years to become law and then businesses will have another two years to implement changes.
In B.C., the provincial government has said that each municipality can make its own single-use plastic ban laws. Currently close to 17 municipalities already have a bylaw when it comes to single-use plastic.
“Students and adults in Fort St. James have been working hard to bring this issue to the forefront. Please support them as they work to make changes that are of benefit to us all,” Hiebert said.