Colin Miller, Operations Manager at Tofino’s House of Himwitsa Native Art Gallery, celebrates his Ocean Friendly Business certification. (Lilly Woodbury photo)

Surfrider Pacific Rim: Coast celebrates a win on World Oceans Day

As the coast opens up, businesses continue to prioritize environmental regeneration

LILLY WOODBURY

Special to the Westerly

Surfrider Pacific Rim is elated to be finishing the third round of the Ocean Friendly Business (OFB) Campaign, which works to register 15 new businesses in Tofino and Ucluelet each year as “Ocean Friendly”, bringing the new total of registered businesses to 45.

To become registered, Surfrider assists businesses in transforming their current practices to eliminate unnecessary plastics, implement progressive waste management practices, and increase sustainable initiatives in businesses operations. This campaign usually wraps up on April 22, but it was extended to June 8, World Oceans Day, as a measure to support businesses during COVID-19. Now, as the coast opens up, we have a victory to uphold and celebrate: businesses continuing to prioritize environmental regeneration through their operations as well as the goods and services they offer.

In 2016, Surfrider identified that the OFB initiative would be an effective and systemic intervention for addressing plastic pollution in this region. The commercial sector has a substantial impact on the coastal ecosystems, from the waste produced, emissions released, and resources utilized. Improper waste management practices contribute to the root of our plastic pollution problem on the west coast: according to the West Coast Landfill, on the Pacific Rim, 80 per cent of waste entering the landfill is from institutions, commercial businesses, and industry.

An audit completed by the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) in August 2019, categorized 70 per cent of this waste as recyclable, mostly in the form of petroleum-based plastic products, from hard plastic containers to textiles. Thus, the criteria we’ve developed also supports businesses in diverting waste from landfill and keeping materials in use, which also works to lower greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change.

Businesses on the west coast not only have the opportunity to positively shape and be shaped by the behaviours of residents, they have immense latitude to be a model of what an ocean-conscious operation looks like for over one million visitors who come to the coast annually. This aspect of the campaign is key: small businesses account for 98 per cent of businesses across North America. So, creating a commercial culture on the coast that’s Ocean Friendly and evolving to become increasingly regenerative has a substantial impact on the individuals and business owners who interact with local businesses.

This is exactly what we need at this time—for all sectors of society to take leadership, to make an impact, to not fall back on the status quo of the “-take-make-waste” linear economy that has dug us into an environmental trench. This includes using and/or reverting back to single-use plastics for takeaway items and for amenities within business operations.

Massive thanks to the volunteer committee who have been dedicated to this campaign since September and have made this coastal victory possible: Hélène Descoteaux, Marianne Paquette, Kim Johnston, and Robin Jackson. Through this campaign, Robin has also been supporting businesses with personalized waste audits, troubleshooting errors, and adjusting waste systems so that a maximum amount of material is recovered. This effort has also been woven into Surfrider’s Transparent Waste Educational Program with the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District, in an effort to lower the waste produced per capita and keep a maximum amount of materials in efficient use. Thanks to all of the businesses who participated, listed below, along with the Vancouver Foundation who has supported this round of the campaign. To learn more, and access the full list of registered businesses, visit https://www.pacificrim.surfrider.org/our-campaigns/ocean-friendly-business

You can also contact lwoodbury@canada.surfrider.org for questions, to learn more about joining the fourth round of the campaign, as well as gain information on the safe use of reusable vessels during and following COVID-19.

Lilly Woodbury is the chapter manager of Surfrider Pacific Rim.

READ: Surfrider Pacific Rim: Celebrating SonBird’s dedication to the Coast

READ: Surfrider cheers ocean friendly businesses in Tofino and Ucluelet

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