Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Winning student posters to be displayed to fight plastic bag scourge

Press Release

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

Winning student posters to be displayed to fight plastic bag scourge

By Theresa Peluso

On your next outing in Mississippi Mills, check out the artwork on display in libraries, arenas, shops, and other public spaces. You will not only be impressed by the artistic and design talents of the children who created these winning posters in the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists’ Refuse-to-Use Plastic Bag Poster Contest, you’ll also be motivated to find alternatives to those environmentally destructive plastic shopping bags!

Photo 2 Hirst
















“Don’t Litter, Pretend You Were the Critter!” is the message from Libby Hirst of Pakenham Public School, shown with her poster, one of the winning designs in MVFN’s poster contest to raise awareness of the environmental problem with plastic bags. Photo John Fowler

The poster contest, which took place during the month of November, was held to engage local students in showing the harm caused by plastic bags, and suggesting alternatives. Although plastic bags seem harmless, their pervasiveness and longevity make them a serious environmental hazard. These plastic bags end up everywhere, choking and trapping millions of animals on land and in the seas, and blocking drains and sewers during the many hundreds of years they take to break down.

Overall, the poster contest was very successful. Thanks to the enthusiasm of local elementary school teachers and students, nearly 80 amazing posters were received. MVFN would like to thank our judges, Elizabeth Veninga, Catherine Blake and Chandler Swain, all well-known local artists, who were dazzled by the talent of the students and the multitude of ways they conveyed their ideas. After much deliberation, they selected the following winners: in the Grade 1-3 category: Denby Fergusson, Naismith Memorial Public School (First), Tatum Ferguson, Naismith (Second), Myles Thompson, Naismith (Third), Dylan Chartrand, Naismith (Fourth), Jason Alexander, Naismith (Fifth), Anthony McCamon, Pakenham Public School (Honourable Mention), Everett St. Croix, Naismith (Honourable Mention), and in the Grades 4-6 category: Fiona Mehmet, Naismith Memorial Public School (First), Sky JS, Pakenham Public School (Second), Libby Hirst, Pakenham (Third), Ben Hoban, Naismith (Fourth), Kyrah Nicholas, Pakenham (Fifth), Nick Love, Pakenham (Honourable Mention), Brianna Moore, Naismith (Honourable Mention).

An awards ceremony was held at the Almonte Public Library on December 18 to celebrate first-, second- and third-place winners, and award to certificates and, for the first-place winners, cheque and book prizes. We were delighted that all those invited were able to find time during the busy month of December to attend. MVFN would like to thank all those students who participated. Many thanks also to John Fowler, a talented local professional photographer, for donating his time and expertise to providing a visual record of the event, and to Pam Harris, Mississippi Mills’ Chief Librarian, for organizing use of the meeting room and space to display the top posters.

Needless to say, these students are thrilled to know that the posters they laboured so hard to create, will be catching everyone’s attention, reminding us to do the right thing and break that bad bag habit!



Continue reading...

MVFN’s Refuse-to-Use Poster Contest & Links to Contest Details and Other Information

October 31, 2013

Help us help the natural environment. Enter MVFN’s Poster Contest!

By Theresa Peluso

Are you an elementary or secondary school student? Are you passionate about nature? Do you relish the opportunity to use your research, art, design, and written communication skills to inspire all of us to help our planet? Then this poster contest is for you. See full contest details here:  Refuse-to-Use Poster Contest Details. Also info. and links to help you research the issue:  MVFN’s Refuse to Use Poster Contest: links to help you research the issue.

As part of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists Plastic Bag reduction campaign, we invite all local elementary and secondary school students, including those who are home-schooled to participate in our Refuse-To-Use Poster Contest designed to reduce the use, locally, of single-use plastic bags. Because they are so lightweight and buoyant and take hundreds of year to break down, plastic bags escape into fields, forests, rivers and oceans, wreaking havoc on millions of animals and their habitats around the world.

MVFN’s Plastic Bag Reduction effort began earlier this year with the goal to raise awareness of the harm caused globally by the release of plastic bags into the natural environment. During this campaign, MVFN volunteers surveyed local businesses about plastic bag use and conducted small-scale surveys of numbers of people using re-useable containers vs. plastic bags for their shopping. MVFN volunteers also hosted a series of information tables at events such as the Almonte and Pakenham Fairs, Celtfest and Herbfest during the summer, where we asked the public to pledge to ‘Refuse-To-Use’ single-use plastic bags. We had 244 local residents and visitors take the pledge.


Photo 1 Refuse to Use (1024x795)

Information table hosted at the Almonte Fair as part of the Plastic Bag Reduction Campaign. Photo by Pauline Donaldson

We now invite local students to design a poster to get the message out to even more people to Refuse-To-Use plastic bags. Here’s your chance at fame and fortune! The poster contest is on now and runs until November 29, 2013. A winner in each of four categories (Grades 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12) will be selected. Each winner will receive a cash prize of $20 and winning posters will be displayed in local public spaces, so your work can inspire others. Winning posters will be those whose words and images seem best suited to inspire everyone to ‘refuse to use’ plastic bags. Your posters may show why plastic bags are harmful to the environment, and/or give advice to help people develop life-long habits to reduce or avoid their use.

Complete contest details for MVFN’s Refuse to Use Poster Contest, as well as links to help you research the issue of the ‘problem with plastic bags, will be posted in November on the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists website at For additional information or questions, please contact MVFN’s Environmental Issues Chairperson, Theresa Peluso, at


Continue reading...

Refuse-to-Use Poster Contest: Information to help you research the ‘problem’ with plastic bags

Refuse-to-Use Poster Contest: Information to help you research the problem with plastic bags

Plastic bags are an accepted part of Canada’s shopping culture, but they shouldn’t be. Each year in Canada we use over 9 billion plastic shopping bags. Below you will find suggested links for further information, including a humorous ‘youtube’ video approach to the problem, links to recent on-going research, as well as a pdf of key 10 things to consider about plastic bags. You may also wish to explore other sources of information, for example what information do recycling and waste management organizations provide about recycling options for various plastics, etc.

1. Here are 10 key things to consider about plastic bags: The Problem with Plastic Bags We thank Greener Footprints and Taronga Zoo for permission to use the photos and some information in this document. On the Greener Footprints website one can also view an inspiring video about the successful campaign to ban plastic bags in Rossland, B.C.

2. If you want a humorous approach to explain a serious problem, watch a 4-minute youtube video ‘The Majestic Plastic Bag: A Mockumentary’ produced by Heal the Bay, as part of a campaign to ban plastic bags in California: 

3. An excellent slide show of the Dangers of Plastic Bags: 

4. A link to the Canadian Wildlife Federation re. leather back turtles and plastic bags:

5. A link to recent Canadian research on the effects of plastic pollution on arctic birds the thick-billed murre and the northern fulmar presented by an Ottawa student, in collaboration with Environment Canada,  at the International Polar Year conference last year in Montreal:

poster pdf:

Written abstract:

6. A link to an article about on-going research on ‘microplastics’ in the Great Lakes: Scientist, Dr. Shari Mason of the State University of New York, Fredonia  co-authored the soon to be published “Microplastic Pollution in the Surface Waters of the Laurentian Great Lakes” based on her findings for Lakes Huron, Superior and Erie. Data on Lake Ontario collected last year is still being analyzed. Much of the microplastic pollution likely originate from cosmetics, the authors say, while some may be from other sources such as plastic film. The origin of ocean plastic film is difficult to determine; it could be from plastic bags or other plastic. What is certain, Mason told MVFN is that much of the beach debris she sees is from plastic bags.


Continue reading...