With single-use plastics increasingly under the microscope – and on the chopping block – the Nith Valley EcoBoosters are hosting a webinar on Earth Day (April 22) to discuss the dangers of such plastics and the need for change.
There have already been shifts away from the use of disposable plastics. Restaurant chains have started to eliminate the likes of plastic straws and cutlery, replacing them with paper and other biodegradable types of materials. Retailers such as grocers have taken aim at plastic bags.
Those keen to do more themselves have taken to carrying around their own reusable versions of such items, a movement particularly noticeable among the younger demographic. Now, governments have been getting in on the action with moves such as Ottawa’s plan to phase out certain items. Plastic grocery bags, straws, stir sticks, plastic cutlery, six-pack rings and food containers made from hard-to-recycle plastics are to disappear by 2022.
The EcoBoosters’ event will build on the movement.
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Tom Knezevich, chairperson for the EcoBoosters, says the event which has been in the works for more than a year, is made for families but is intended for all who care about the effect plastics have on the environment.
“It’s more family-oriented – it’s trying to get families watching it together, because we know that sometimes parents and grandparents won’t take action. But if their children or their grandchildren say, ‘hey dad, mom, grandma, or grandpa, we need to take action on this because this is something that’s going to affect me as a young person, I’m inheriting all this, these issues that the older folks are creating these days are going to be inherited by the young people.’ So that’s why we wanted to have the focus on families for this event and trying to get that message coming from young people and hoping older people will listen to it. Environmental issues have definitely taken a backseat to coronavirus, and we felt it was important to bring these issues back to the front again,” said Knezevich.
“Every year, about 400 million tonnes of plastic – new plastic – is produced, and about 40 per cent of that is single-use, and if you can only recycle this amount of a small amount of that, where is all that plastic going? Each year, the plastic just continues to pile up. If it’s not being burned or it’s not being recycled, then it’s going into our landfills, it’s going into streets and communities and rivers. So, it’s really important to bring the attention back to this, because it’s, it’s a problem that’s continuing to grow and it’s not going away.”
During the webinar, those who partake will be shown ‘Kids can Save the Planet: Plastic Is Forever,’ a short film produced by American teenager Dylan D’Haeze, as well as video and audio clips by local kids as they demonstrate their ideas regarding plastic pollution. Presentations by Chase Oudshoorn, a local youth climate advocate, and Deanna Dakin, waste management coordinator with the Region of Waterloo, are on the agenda.
Oudshoorn says during his portion of the presentation, he will be talking with an emphasis directed towards other youth, while also highlighting the urgency of this issue.
“Mainly, I want to direct it towards other young people like me because I know lots of other people who are really concerned about these issues, and it can just be really overwhelming because there’s not a lot and individual can do. But I just want to let people know that there’s a whole community out there to support you and there’s ways that you can make a difference,” said Oudshoorn. “We also need to address the urgency of the issue, and find solutions now, because something that really stuck out to me was in a documentary I’ve watched in class by the United Nations. It said that the next decade is probably going to determine what the next few centuries are going to look like. So, we need to make change now it’s not something that we can wait for.”
Adding another level to the presentation will be Dakin, who says she plans to discuss the blue box program within the region and clarify some misconceptions out there to help make the recycling program better.
“I will focus on the region blue box program and how to participate in the recycling program, talking about the difficulty of identifying which type of plastic packaging or packaging in general, belongs in our blue box, and which stuff doesn’t. In Waterloo Region, our residents are very supportive of our program. So, I would say, like we’re at approximately 90 per cent of the material that the place in the blue box is recyclable. Only 10 per cent is not, and that is contamination or garbage that shouldn’t be in the blue box… that’s where I hope I can educate some of the residents on the webinar that you know those types of items are not accepted and shouldn’t be put in the blue box,” said Dakin.
The webinar will take place April 22 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Click here for more information, or to register.