Kids for a Plastic Free Canada: Youth Champions

Written by Anastasia Castro and Char Brady
Kids for a Plastic Free Canada

Since December of 2018, Kids for a Plastic Free Canada has grown from a small organization to a multi-grade youth coalition working determinedly with their municipal and provincial representatives on concrete plans for change. Prominent members, Anastasia Castro and Char Brady, accomplished a lot in 2019, encouraging the awareness of plastic pollution and reducing single-use plastics. Keep reading to learn about their actions!

The award-winning duo partnered with the UVic Environmental Law department on a document of legal recommendations for the BC provincial government. Aiming to limit the distribution and further creation of single-use plastics, their recommendations focused on how to create a sustainable provincial economy for future generations.

Taking a leadership role in the community, Anastasia met with staff from the office of Environment Minister George Heyman to discuss single-use plastics in British Columbia. Moreover, she focused her efforts on continuing the battle against plastics, acting as a mentor and leader to the younger contingent of Kids for a Plastic Free Canada, the Glenlyon Norfolk School grade 5 class.

Since early January, Cleo Hunt, Kirsty Luttman, Justin Lan, Joelle Lo, and members of their GNS grade 5 class have spoken up against single-use plastics. They’ve worked alongside their school’s administration to implement plastic reduction strategies. These passionate young leaders also met with the Oak Bay Council, to support a ban on single-use plastics.

In March, Kids for a Plastic Free Canada turned their attention to igniting change in their neighborhood, conducting in-person outreach along Estevan and Oak Bay Avenue. Additionally, they presented to the Oak Bay community association about their intended vision for the community to eliminate single-use plastics.

While the Grade 5’s took their work into the field, Anastasia presented her Plastic Free Schools B.C. program to BC Minister of Education, Rob Fleming. She created this program as a comprehensive set of guidelines incentivizing schools to teach the importance of plastic reduction and work on eliminating single-use plastics.

In April, Anastasia Castro hosted a workshop at the Victoria STEM Conference at Saint Margarets School, where she advocated for the importance of small changes in daily habits. She was a guest speaker at the conference, encouraging youth of their ability to make a difference.  Kickstarting their plastic free initiative, Anastasia and Char spoke as guest speakers at Shoreline Middle School. Focus magazine also featured them in an interview!

Summer brought more achievements for Kids for a Plastic Free Canada. Early on, Char met with M.L.A. Sheila Malcomson to discuss reduction strategies for single-use plastics, receiving enthusiastic, but conditional support. On June 8th, Ocean Day Beach Cleanup was held in Stanley Park, Vancouver, bringing out multiple supporters from all regions of the mainland. Present at the event were some news organizations and an environmentally conscious corporate sponsor, The Body Shop.

The Grade 5 students, from Kids for a Plastic Free Canada, presented to Victoria City Council asking them to include all single-use plastics in their proposed ban. At the same time, Anastasia and Char created a manual on activism foundations for youth interested in helping their communities ban single-use plastics. Later that summer, Anastasia and Char met with M.L.A. Malcomson once more to request action on single-use plastics.

As the school year began again, Kids for a Plastic Free Canada continued working with Campus View Elementary and Shoreline Middle School to strategize single-use plastic reduction. The grade 5 contingent also presented to the Victoria Girl Guides regarding how to act on the single-use plastic problem.

On October 5th, with the help of Surfrider Foundation, UVic legal professor Calvin Sandborn, M.L.A. Andrew Weaver, and Kids for a Plastic Free Canada, together presented the UVic Law partnered document of provincial plastic recommendations. The group met directly with Minister Heyman and M.L.A. Malcomson to state the case for finally banning single-use plastics. Continuing the fight against plastic, Anastasia and Char met with opposition environment critic, Peter Milobar, to discuss regulating the plastics problem.

The end of the year came to a few heartening conclusions. Anastasia was invited to be a guest speaker at the Ecostar awards ceremony, for her dedicated efforts to find solutions to the single-use plastics problem. In the meantime, the Grade 6 class at Saint Margarets initiated an action plan tackling single-use plastic. Initiating another ambition goal, the GNS Grade 5 group joined Surfrider, taking direct action on plastic pellet spills in Vancouver.

Overall, Kids for a Plastic Free Canada had an eventful 2019 and accomplished much that deserves to be recognized. Correspondingly, Anastasia Castro and Char Brady were recently awarded the BC Citizenship Medal for their dedicated activist work on reducing single-use plastics problem.

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