Why stop at plastic straws? What about eliminating plastic bags and plastic water bottles too?
That’s the kind of feedback Michelle Hall, volunteer chair of the Surfrider Foundation Pacific Rim chapter, said she received after introducing the “Straws Suck” campaign to Tofitians last April.
With that general community consensus in mind, here’s a look at what the non-profit environmental organization is focused on delivering over the next few months.
The Surfrider Pacific Rim executive team has been playing around with a new campaign idea called “Ocean Friendly Businesses”. It’s very much in the planning stages as they’re still seeking funding and grants, but already restaurants like Wolf in the Fog and Wildside Grill are interested in completing the certification.
Supporters of the campaign would be required to comply with a checklist of mandatory criteria that includes deploying water conservation efforts and following the West Coast’s recycling and food waste regulations.
Non-mandatory criteria includes switching to re-useable tableware, eliminating plastic bags and providing water dispensers instead of plastic water bottles. Eliminating single use plastic items like stir sticks, milk cartridges and condiments is also on the non-mandatory list.
“It is for any business in Tofino and Ucluelet. But I quickly realized when I went to both businesses [Wolf and Wildside] that it was a way bigger picture than I anticipated. Like the auditing that would be involved to actually seeing through the business practices,” said Hall.
This goal is part of a two-fold initiative that also involves creating an Ocean Friendly Businesses curriculum for Ucluelet Secondary School.
“We will be reintroducing an evolved curriculum of Trash to Treasure and working with more classes including Oceanography and Outdoor Education,” Hall said.
“This is an amazing opportunity to encourage the youth to become stewards of the environment and lead the future of the economy in sustainable practices and business.”
Last year, Surfrider partnered with Nanaimo Science to deliver a program called “Trash to Treasure”.
Spanning over 12 classes, the students were taught the science of plastics, including types of plastics used in everyday items, what happened to them in water, and what marine animals could be affected by that. The students also collected their favourite pieces of trash and used these materials to make an art piece with the help of local artist Pete Clarkson. The piece is on display at the Ucluelet Aquarium along with a storyboard and the data collected.
Wetsuit Recycling Depots
Thanks to a recent partnership with California-based company SUGA, surfers can now recycle their old, surfed-out wetsuits at the following locations: Surf Sisters and Pacific Surf School in Tofino and Howler’s and Relic in Ucluelet.
A representative from SUGA will regularly collect the deposited wetsuits and deliver them to their headquarters in Encinitas where the neoprene garments are then recycled into yoga mats. Hall said to make sure suits are properly dried before being dropped off.
Beach Cleans & Meet Ups
Surfrider public meetings take place on the first Wednesday of every month at the Tofino Brewery. The next one is scheduled for Dec. 7 at 6:30 p.m. If you are interested in leading a beach clean or want to help in any other regards, Hall said Surfrider is actively recruiting volunteers who can commit to a full year with the organization and “own their volunteer jobs”.