“Let’s be the first! Let’s lead the way!”
That’s what one person yelled out to some applause during a documentary viewing and discussion on banning plastic shopping bags at point of sale, which took place at Qualicum Beach Civic Centre.
The event was co-hosted by Communities Protecting Our Coast and the Canadian Federation of University Women on Thursday afternoon. There was another showing and discussion at 7 p.m. the same day.
The speakers for the afternoon session included CPOC member Lois Eaton, Kwalikum Secondary School graduate Anwyn Woodyatt and Qualicum Beach Coun. Anne Skipsey.
Woodyatt, who has plans to go into the field of phsyics, was at the event to give a youth perspective to the issue of plastics on the environment. She is “tremendously passionate” about environmental sustainability and just as passionate about the town she grew up in, she said.
“But I have grown up watching kids throw reusuable Ziploc bags in the trash after holding a dozen almonds, and I’ve been frowned upon when I would recommend they take them home to wash and reuse,” Woodyatt said.
She said to imagine a world where every bowl to every ketchup cup was compostable, biodegradable and made from recycled products, with compost bins beside every garbage and recycling bin. She said that cafeteria exists at Cypress Mountain Resort.
“I came to the conclusion that people make decisions based on the route of minimum effort, even when considering a situation as urgent as the one we’ve seen today,” said Woodyatt, referring to the documentary Battle of the Bag, which looked at the history and implications of plastics.
Skipsey, who said she consideres herself “hardcore” when it comes to recycling, admitted it’s not always easy to recycle.
“I think as a community, we need to make it easier. We need to make it easier for people to do the right thing,” Skipsey said.
She said Qualicum Beach needs to show the federal government and others that it’s grassroots initatives, such as CPOC asking the local governments, that can make this ban happen.
Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns spoke at the evening showing and he said he has been doing his best to raise the issue in the House of Commons and has been in direct discussions with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Transport Marc Garneau. Johns also said these efforts at the community level go a long way toward reducing plastics that end up in oceans.
Banning plastic bags at point-of-sale, Skipsey said, isn’t meant to upset local businesses or make it inconvenient for people.
“We are doing this because it is important. It’s important to our environment, to the creatures that we share our planet with and the ecosystems that we live in.”