Michelle Hall, mayor Josie Osborne, Kelby Holmes and Liam Cook had a blast crafting reuseable plastic-alternative creations during December’s Surfrider Pacific Rim Stitch ‘n’ Beach event at the Tofino Botanical Gardens. The popular Stitch ‘n’ Beach initiative was recently awarded $10,000 from the Aviva Community Fund. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

VIDEO: Surfrider’s Stitch’n’Beach program earns $10K prize

Events hosted in Tofino, Ucluelet, Opitsaht and Hitacu

It’s about to get even easier to stitch it rather than ditching it on the West Coast.

The Surfrider Foundation’s Pacific Rim Chapter capped off 2018 with a well-earned celebration as the plastic-fighting group’s popular Stitch ‘n’ Beach program received a $10,000 prize from the Aviva Community Fund. The fund uses online voting to find inspiring community initiatives that “bring people together and make change within their community,” according to Aviva’s website.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Surfrider Foundation invites Tofino council candidates to cigarette butt cleanup

Aviva dished out over $1 million to programs across Canada this year with over one million votes tallied and 60 winners chosen. Scoring a spot among the top 60 vote getters across the country was a tremendous score for Surfrider’s West Coast operation, which works in a region of roughly 5,500 people.

“It took a lot of leverage and a lot of hustling for all of the community to get online and vote for the Stitch ‘n’ Beach program,” Surfrider past-chair Michelle Hall told the Westerly News during December’s Stitch ‘n’ Beach event.

“It was really supportive because it shows the community values this program, values the community that it brings together and they want it to continue.”

READ MORE: Surfrider chair honoured in Tofino

Surfrider launched Stitch ‘n’ Beach in 2016 with the goal of creating 1,000 re-useable bags to help West Coast communities transition away from plastic bags. The program has since doubled that goal and has evolved into monthly events that spread awareness about the impacts of single-use plastics and teach community members how to create their own plastic-alternative products.

“It also supports the idea of ‘fix it don’t ditch it,’” Hall said. “You can come and bring your torn items, learn how to fix them, and you can leave feeling happy and fantastic that you’ve done all this great work moving away from plastics.”

READ MORE: Tofino working on bylaw to restrict single-use plastics

Stitch ‘n’ Beach events are led by Surfrider volunteer Kelby Holmes who has been excited to see the connections created across generations.

“Stitch ‘n’ Beach events are amazing because they get so many different people from different age groups into one room to share a general interest in crafts and sewing,” she said. “There’s some really amazing people in our community and it’s really great to get to meet them and share this shared curiosity of trying to do projects and get rid of single-use plastics.”

She added the $10,000 prize will go towards buying new sewing machines to expand the group’s reuseable bag-building capacity and offering more events in more communities throughout the region.

READ MORE: Tofino turns old wetsuits into new yoga mats



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

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