Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Field naturalists to launch campaign to reduce local use of plastic bags

Press Release

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

Environmental Issues Committee

May 2, 2013

Field naturalists to launch campaign to reduce local use of plastic bags

Canadians use up to 9 billion plastic bags each year and in view of the impact these bags have on the natural environment, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) have developed a campaign to help reduce their use in our local area. Organized by the MVFN’s Environmental Issues Committee, chaired by Blakeney resident Theresa Peluso, the campaign will be launched in our communities in early May and will include distribution of a fact sheet on the issue, a survey of current users and distributors of plastic bags, a poster contest for schools, and the publication of a concluding report on the campaign.

MVFN has ample reason to be concerned. Plastic bags have a very significant impact on the natural environment when they are disposed of. Did you know that if you tied together every plastic bag we use annually in Canada, the chain would circle the globe fifty-five times? Many bags end up in our watershed, plugging drains and sewers and creating an unsightly mess. Worse still however, they cause great harm to wildlife. Birds get tangled up in them, especially water birds; turtles and other mammals ingest them; whales and dolphins confuse them for jelly fish and gobble them up. Some fish think they are frog eggs and eat them. The result is usually suffocation or acute indigestion leading to death.

Masses of plastic bags are strewn all around the countryside. Not necessarily dumped or discarded by people, a large amount of plastic becomes wind-borne from landfill and construction sites. Canadian plastic bags have been found as far away as Scotland. Flotillas of plastic bags are found in the middle of our oceans and ocean currents slowly carry them to other shores. Plastic bags are made from non-renewable petroleum products. Every piece of plastic ever made in our lifetime, still exists! The bags do not decompose; they photodegrade. The sun’s rays eventually break them down into small toxic pieces, but these contaminate soil and water and get into our food chain when animals ingest them.

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists’ campaign will encourage the use of reusable cloth bags. Another important message will be to avoid purchasing goods packaged in plastic. The campaign will also reach out to local businesses to encourage the use of alternatives to plastic bags. As the campaign unfolds, volunteers will be needed to help with this awareness building. If you would like further information or to get involved with this worthwhile initiative, please contact MVFN’s Environmental Issues Chair, Theresa Peluso at .