Plastic Free Challenge (Grades 7)
To find out how Gabriolans felt about plastic packaging students created a Plastic Consumer Survey. This was completed by 299 people. (The results of the survey are below).
Students learnt how plastic pollution is affecting our oceans, ecosystems and the food chain. They learned about the different types of plastic, which ones are recyclable and what percentage of plastics are recycled globally. This forced the questions; Is recycling plastic a viable solution considering the global market and harmful affect on the planet? Considering the climate crisis can we continue to use plastic as a form of packaging?
Six of the students committed to doing a Plastic Free Challenge for the month of July. Their experiences were documented and shared in the local paper as well as on CBC Radio.
Plastic Consumer Survey
The survey was put together to collect data that would highlight islanders’ consumption habits regarding plastic packaging and to show the level of awareness and willingness to change in order to reduce the amount of plastic that Islanders’ are purchasing.
The survey was also used as data to share with the main food store on the island (Nesters), with the aim of suggesting ways that they could navigate away from their plastic shopping bags, single-use plastics and expanding their bulk bin section.
Here are the results: 299 people completed the survey.
Based on an adult Gabriola population of 3,433 and 300 respondents it shows a confidence level of 95% plus or minus 5.5%.
Supermarkets– less plastic packaging, plastic free items, plastic alternatives, larger range of bulk food bin, eliminating plastic shopping bags.
Government – legislation enforced at government level to heavily tax manufacturers of plastic packaging and banning single-use plastics.
Increased education – to raise awareness of the impact of plastics on the environment/ ecosystem and the effect of plastics on human health
All of the above – all need to be targeted equally
The results of the survey clearly highlight some key points regarding plastics:
Gabriolans would reduce their use of plastic packaging if there were more alternatives being offered. By alternatives I am referring to items packaged in glass, paper, cardboard, tin or package free.
The subject of plastics is clearly a complex one that Islanders recognize as needing to be addressed from multiple angles:
- More aggressive action from Government to regulate and tax the manufacturers of plastics as well as banning all single use plastics, (which includes shopping bags and produce plastic bags).
- The need for more package free food and other necessities to be available for purchase on Gabriola.
- Increased education to bring awareness to the harmful effect of plastics on the environment and oceans, land, mammals, birds and fish.
I am currently in discussions with Nesters VP Sam Corea in Vancouver to explore ways that they can reduce plastic packaging in the store.
I do not wish to single out Nesters as the only store on Gabriola that needs to address their plastic packaging, as I believe that any commercial business needs to be held accountable as to whether its business practices are sustainable. If their current practices are not, then they need to be actively sourcing out alternatives to reduce their carbon footprint.
Living on a Gulf island, we as residents are more challenged by what choices we have available to us. During the summer months it is easier to find locally produced fruit, vegetables and meat. The rest of the year we are relying more heavily on island stores for our groceries.
It is imperative that we work with local stores to share our thoughts on the products they are bringing to the island. If there is a product that you love to buy but the packaging is made of plastic, then write to the manufacturer and share your views. If you have sourced out a product that you love, which has a sustainable footprint but isn’t currently for sale on Gabriola, then let local stores know about it and perhaps they can order it in.
Make it a priority to educate yourself and your children about the harmful effect of plastics and plastic pollution and how simple daily actions can bring about positive changes for ourselves and the planet.
Visit our website for more information on plastic packaging and its effect on the environment, things you can do to limit your plastic use, as well as the costs to GIRO for collection, sorting and transportation.
Or pay us visit us on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 9.30am – 4pm.