Those shopping in Fernie will be encouraged to think twice before contributing to unnecessary waste thanks to the newly launched Zero Plastic Project.
The goal of this project is to show visitors and residents alike that Fernie is a proud mountain community that lives and sells an environmentally responsible culture.
On Thursday, May 17, the “Take-a-Bag Leave-a-Bag” system was installed at Fernie Save-On-Foods, which encourages shoppers to reduce their use of plastic bags.
Additionally, a rack in the cash out area will be stocked with reusable bags for customers to use in case they forget to bring their own. This system will rely on the participation of shoppers to then return to the store with this reusable bag and/or replace the one they took.
Now visible from the parking lot is a sign that reads, “We are a take-a-bag leave-a-bag business”, which will encourage shoppers to donate to the cause.
Similar signs will also be available around the downtown area, and reminders in the form of cards, which will be given to diners. The cards read, “Are you okay without a straw?”.
“By working together and modifying our habits we can reduce the amount of single-use plastics that are consumed in Fernie,” said Wildsight Elk Valley president Sharon Switzer.
Sylvia Ayers, Sharon Kelly and Tamara Dunn and Sharon Switzer were the masterminds behind this project. It is part of a larger Wildsight Elk Valley Waste Reduction Project and has been endorsed by the City of Fernie.
Over the coming weeks, Wildsight will support businesses in their choice to reduce plastic bags and straws, and the conservation group hopes that customers and clients of these businesses will support them by adapting to the new system.
So far, about 80 per cent of Fernie businesses have come on board.
All participating retailers and restaurants will be given a poster and counter tent cards to help staff in reframing the question away from, “Do you need a bag or straw?” to “Are you okay without one?”.
Businesses will also be asked to consider only giving out bags and straws upon request.
Larger stores will be set up with the “Take-a-Bag Leave-a-Bag” system, as well as t-shirt bags that were made on Earth Day by students as well as members of the public.
Wildsight says their goal over the next several months is that Fernie will exhaust its supply of plastic bags and straws, and switch to a more reusable system. Options include reusable or compostable bags and straws, and only supplying them upon request.
Wildsight says that there are many options for compostable bags that can suit various budgets. Over the next year, the Zero Plastic Project will collect data on the reduction of plastic bags and straws from each business.
Businesses can tag and challenge each other on social media by using the hashtag #zeroplasticproject and #ferniedoesntsuck.
The business tool kit can be found online at Wildsight.ca/zeroplastic. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.