Seaview Elementary’s push to prevent plastic pollution has won students the means to do more to help the environment.
The Lantzville elementary school won the $1,000 grand prize for B.C. in the Plastic Bag Grab Challenge, a Recycling Council of Ontario contest
More than 600 elementary schools across Canada took part in the challenge and nearly two million single-use bags were collected and brought to local Walmart stores to eventually be recycled into plastic lumber. The contest is all about collecting single-use bags, while teaching students about plastics and building awareness in communities about plastic waste, a press release shows.
As part of a challenge, one school from each province and territory could also win a grand prize for best embracing reduce and reuse goals, according to the council, which encourages winners to put the dollars toward environmental initiatives.
Seaview undertook initiatives like daily announcements on the impacts of plastic, zero waste lunches and a letter-writing campaign in support of MP Gord Johns’s motion to create a national strategy to combat plastic pollution. Students collected nearly 6,000 bags.
“What really impressed us with Seaview Elementary is their overall commitment to waste reduction,” said Caitlin Perry, program coordinator with Recycling Council of Ontario, in an e-mailed statement. “In addition to their fantastic efforts engaging with the 3Rs for the Plastic Bag Grab Challenge, they also went with waste-free lunches and took part in community cleanups during Earth Week.”
Seaview teacher librarian Jolaine Canty, who led the initiative, said to have students win was an added bonus.
“I’m hoping that will show them that they can make a difference,” said Canty, who hopes to start a leadership program next year where students can take on different initiatives in the school or community.
Gabby Baan, 11, said it’s “awesome” they won the grand prize.
“It’s going to be really helpful toward our school and it’s going to raise awareness about plastic,” said Baan.
Grade 6 students Baan, Abigail Higgin, 12, and Annika Lundman, 11, helped with the challenge, including collecting plastic.
The school got 5, 972 bags within about a month, “so if you think of how many bags we use in a year, it’s a lot,” said Lundman, who has learned plastic bags are hurting and killing animals and catching on fins and called it “kind of sad.”
Higgin believes if more people knew the effect of plastic bags, they wouldn’t use so many and she also believes there needs to be more of an effort.
“Our school putting out awareness throughout the community, it’s a small community, but any amount of people can make a difference,” she said.
Seaview students are expected to brainstorm about how to use the prize money.