Students in the Environmental Club of Kwalikum Secondary School (KSS) are disappointed with Parksville city council’s decision to not ban single-use plastic bags in the city.
Parksville city council quashed a proposed bylaw that would ban single-use plastic checkout bags at a Feb. 20 regular council meeting. Coun. Adam Fras was the only member in support of the ban.
After hearing about the decision, students in the club began researching the effects of plastic pollution to oceans and coastal communities.
In a letter they plan to give to Parksville council, the students wrote council member
Doug O’Brien showed shortsightedness when he said, ‘I walk near the ocean every day in Parksville and have never noticed any plastic pollution.’
“We would bet he has also never noticed the billions of microorganisms, or plankton in the ocean either. These microscopic organisms are the basis of our food chain and they power life on our planet, yet they are not immediately visible to the human eye – just like microplastics. When plastic breaks down it becomes a microplastic, similar in size to these life sustaining plankton. These plastics are then carried through the food chain and into our marine food such as fish, prawns, oysters, mussels, and are now commonly found in whales and even ourselves,” read the letter
During their research, students found stats from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum that estimate by 2050, plastic will outweigh the fish in our oceans.
“When animals ingest plastic, it can cause life-threatening problems, including reduced fitness, nutrient uptake and feeding efficiency—all vital for survival. As a community and as individuals, we must be able to do better,” reads the students’ letter.
The letter continues, stating large cities have banned single-use plastic bags, straws, and cups. Entire countries have banned or imposed usage restrictions on plastic bags, such as Kenya, Australia, United Kingdom, and Chile, and these are only a handful of hundreds of countries and cities to do so.
On Feb. 25, Qualicum Beach town council voted unanimously to regulate the sale of single-use plastic items in the town, in attempts to minimize the volume of plastic waste in the landfill, waste collection systems and litter.
“A lot of major cities have been able to ban plastic bags and not have an issue with it and I thought it was kind of silly how [Parksville council] felt we weren’t able to ban them here, it’s a totally do able thing,” said Brittaney Farrington, Grade 12 student.
Club member Shelby Bell believes people just need a little more awareness on the issues of plastic pollution.
“We’re saying it’s a problem and we’re not really doing anything about it,” Bell said. “Everyone is kind of stuck in their ways but we know that we have to change.”
Ronny Lekx, Grade 11 student, said Parksville’s decision doesn’t set a good example to the rest of the community and Grade 12 student Sinead Strijack said council needs to start somewhere.
“I think it’s important to implement [the ban] in communities and then that will eventually spread out to the country,” Strijack said.
Ocean pollution is an issue, reads the students’ letter, we cannot postpone for future generations and avoid any responsibility for ourselves because it is having immense negative impacts on the planet today.
Club members believe Parksville council needs to reconsider its decision.