Environmental awareness: The time to act is now

“By the year 2050, scientists are predicting that there will be more plastic in the sea than fish”

Hi! My name is Jill Laviolette and I’m pretty fired up about saving the planet. I have been on the North Island my entire life and it’s impossible for me not to love where I live. I’m an outdoor enthusiast and have a huge love for our wildlife and beautiful North Island. Now that I am raising my kids in this same environment that I grew up in – I notice so many things that haven’t changed even though our world is dramatically changing. Almost daily.

You just have to look around parks, ball fields, sidewalks, streets, beaches and backroads to see that humans have a problem with proper garbage disposal, waste management and reducing our plastic consumption. If we don’t act now our kids and our kids kids will ask why we just sat here and did nothing to make things better. We can’t wait any longer. The time to act is now.

By the year 2050, scientists are predicting that there will be more plastic in the sea than fish. Considering the current state of the planet – I’d say that’s a generous estimate. Less than 30 years away – no more fish. By then there would be many other extinct species. Fresh water is becoming more scarce. By 2050 – it could be a pretty desperate situation. Why do we act as if there is a backup planet to go to once we destroy this one? There isn’t. We only have this one planet. She has cared for us for so long – now it’s our turn to repay the kindness and care for Mother Earth.

As I was growing up there was a cartoon on TV called ‘Captain Planet and the Planeteers’. I fell in love. The show made me care so much for the environment as it opened my eyes to problems cities faced such as construction and destruction, the dumping of chemicals, industrial waste, etc. I have never even imagined these things were possible let alone happening in my big beautiful world. I tried to start a Save the Planet club back then. We were so cute thinking we could make an impact. Kids are the future and have the best and biggest dreams. Within a few years the show was off the air and hearing anything about environmental protection or how terrible industries were – became nonexistent, almost like things were being ‘hushed up’ by industry.

Fast forward a whole bunch of years. Has plastic pollution gotten better or worse? We hear about and are supposed to recycle but it’s not heavily enforced. We see nothing anywhere about the reducing or reusing – the other 2 R’s involved in the triangle of green. Refuse a single use plastic bag and you get looked at funny. Saying no to buying bottled water or supporting it in any way – people think yah lost your marbles. Convenience became the trend and trying to keep up with the Joneses – living this fast paced life. Go into the grocery store and you see fruits and veggies cut up into single use plastic containers. Corner stores have slushy and to go coffee cups that we pick up out of absolutely everywhere. Meals no longer getting prepared or cooked at home and quick meals cooked in plastic have become the norm.

A group of my friends went camping out on a coastal beach at the end of March this year. We picked up SO much coastal and camper trash. Not so much local/campers but lots of coastal debris. We filled the entire back of my 4Runner and Ashley’s camper had styro chunks stuffed inside. I made a post about it on Facebook and it took off from there. So many comments and awareness was created because of that post.

From there we created a Beach and waterway Clean-up for Earth Day. Then we started finding targeted illegal dumps spots and cleaning them up. The before and after shots we take of our clean-ups are INCREDIBLE. The Earth literally thanks us by beginning to thrive again right before our eyes as we clean the trash and plastic up. The more trash and plastic we started cleaning up – the more we keep finding.

It has become apparent that we can clean the Earth until we are burnt out and exhausted but we REALLY need to do is become aware of our shopping and consuming habits in regards to plastic and trash. Single use plastics and plastic water bottles show up everywhere.

Ditches, beaches, remote bushes and tree and coastlines, wildlife stomachs, etc. It’s a sad state of affairs to be honest. We can do better.

We have no time left to turn a blind eye to the trash and plastic threatening to take over our beautiful planet. If we don’t act now and take steps to dramatically reduce our plastic consumption and make sure our waste goes to the appropriate channels – we will run out of time. I’m not one to sit around and do nothing when something terrible is happening. I take action. As does the crew of us. We don’t wait for someone else to clean it up or educate. We just jump in and tackle the problem with as much kindness, love and compassion that we can.

Join us if you want to get involved. Support us if you love what we are doing. Or at the very least – make sure our trash and waste are going to the appropriate places, become aware of how much plastic we are bringing into our lives and homes each day and be open to try some alternate solutions. We can each make changes that add up to one huge impact.

Jill Laviolette is a local single working mom. Having grown up on North Island she has faced many challenges and overcome many obstacles. Giving back is the best way to show gratitude for where you live and that’s become Jill’s mission. She has recently won a Local Hero Award for Environmental Leadership, is an OrcaFest organizer, The Hub: North Island and Van Isle Coastal and Backroading Awareness. You can find them on Facebook or www.vanislecoastalandbackroadingawareness.ca

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Jill Laviolette

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