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Gabriola Island students eliminate plastic for a month

Jul. 6, 2019

Trying to reduce or eliminate plastics is an ambitious way to limit waste. One Grade 7 class on Gabriola Island is taking on that challenge by going plastic free for the month of July.

Michelle MacEwan works with the Gabriola Island Recycling Organization and she's partnering with the school for the project.

"We wanted to try and do what we [can] as a community, and as a school to bring about some changes," said MacEwan.

The challenge is to look at consumption habits when it comes to shopping. If the packaging is made of plastic, then students can't use it.

MacEwan has experience avoiding plastics. When her kids were in elementary school, she prepared waste-free lunches for them. About five years ago, her daughter told her there was a lot of single-use plastic waste in the classroom,which mostly came from food packaging like candy wrappers, fruit cups, straws, and plastic cutlery.

So she started giving workshops to educate students on plastics and recycling.

MacEwan and the class began saving the garbage in the classroom for a week, emptied it all out on a tarp, and separated the materials into different categories. The highest percentage of trash was the plastics and wrappers from candy and granola wrappers.

For the plastic-free project, MacEwan says participants are looking to consume food like fruit, veggies, and homemade snacks — all package free — and use recyclable materials like glass bottles, cardboard or paper. 

Ava Teichroeb, a Grade 7 student on Gabriola Island, said she's already gone a few days without plastic.

Teichroeb went to a barbecue recently and as she was eating the food, she realized it was likely packaged with plastics.

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