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The Peterborough Youth Council-Solution to Plastic Pollution


If you are reading this article, it would seem that you are interested in and care about the environment.

Reading other people’s stories or reading about their ideas is a great what to know what is being discussed and how you might be able to contribute to the stories.


The Peterborough Youth Council members have undertaken a youth-led environmental journalism project recently. Environmental Defence has provided a platform for these local young people to consider their own solution to local plastic pollution.


These young people have spent the last 3 months investigating and journaling their ideas on how to best to solve the local plastic pollution problem. They have been thoughtful in their ideas, considering the facts and digging deep to find solutions.


Listed below is a brief synopsis of 3 such projects from the Peterborough Youth Council team on how we might consider tackling a very serious local problem:



  1. Recently, Mark and Joshua and completed a project known as “Our Solution to Plastic Pollution”, in which they identified the following issue, and took a picture to highlight it. In 2010, Canadians used about 1.5 billion coffee lids. Some municipalities will recycle these lids, but many do not, including Peterborough. The lids they photographed were collected just next to the parking lot of a local coffee establishment.Many discarded cups and lids could be found very easily in this parking lot and we see these same lids on the ground and sidewalks all over our community. These plastic lids are not biodegradable, and have a number of negative effects on the environment, clogging storm drains, getting eaten by animals, and breaking down into smaller pieces that can get into water and marine ecosystems. The lack of biodegradability means they will not go away, and will remain where they are until they are moved, generally making a city look worse, littering our streets and green spaces.

There are a few potential solutions to this problem, one of which would be allowing the lids to be recycled. Unfortunately this isn’t a very viable solution, as there isn’t really market demand for this type of plastic, thus it isn’t profitable for plants to recycle these. The solution we believe would be most effective would be the introduction of fully recyclable coffee cups and lids by companies selling coffee. We know this is possible thanks to companies like Frugalpac, who have created a cup and lid made of 100% recycled materials. This solution unfortunately places the onus on companies to step in the right direction, making it harder for our community to influence this change. In the meantime, individuals can bring reusable thermoses to have their coffee poured into. The food industry needs to be encouraged to investigate the use of eco-friendly substitutes for plastic. There are many plant based plastic alternatives making into the market as manufactures source out creative, inexpensive raw materials to use. There is such a thing as sustainable plastics.




  1. Anna, Lorna and Shaylene have identified an environmental issue in Peterborough, and have come up with some innovative ideas to try and help solve it. These young people noted that in the local malls many people eat out of paper or plastic take-out containers, even if they are staying to eat their food in the food courts. This seems to them to be a very wasteful practice that has become popular and contributes to a lot of plastic pollution. To approach a solution to this dilemma, other malls in Ontario, such as the Yorkdale Mall, were analyzed. It was found that Yorkdale recently made a sustainable change to reusable plastic plates in their food court going from 120 bags of garbage per day to 3. Relating back to our local malls, the possibility of reusable plates is a viable option for us. Although there would be a cost to this solution, you can not put a price tag on the value in fixing a serious environmental problem.



  2. Kate and Maria find that many people ignore the problem of plastic pollution. Some people are unaware that 18 billion pounds of plastic waste enters the earth’s ocean every single year. These young ladies are concerned that not enough people really care that are our oceans are seriously polluted, but everyone should care as this plastic pollution affects all of us.

The poor environmental decisions that society makes today, will have an effect   on the next generation.  It is true, the decisions made today, will have an impact on the future of our planet earth.

Their ideas to reduce plastic are simple little things each person can consciously do to contribute to the solution:

  • Stop using plastic straws
  • Always use a reusable grocery bag
  • Take a reusable water bottle with you
  • Use a re-fillable coffee mug at take out places
  • Invest in a reusable produce bag
  • Recycle
  • Use glass as an alternative to plastic


All of these small things will have a huge impact on our environment.  We can make change now for a brighter future. By doing little things we can help reduce greenhouse gasses and as individuals have less of a harmful impact on our environment. Each and every one of us has a role and responsibility in making change!


Young Reporters for the Environment is an international project from the Foundation for Environment Education. In Canada, this project is coordinated by Environmental Defence. This organization has inspired the Peterborough Youth Council to ensure a greener, healthier environment by finding local solutions to the plastic pollution. Each of the projects highlighted in this article will be submitted to the national journalism contest hosted by Environmental Defense.

For more information visit www.youngrepaorters.ca


The 10 member Peterborough Youth Council is under the guidance of the Recreation Division, Youth Coordinator. For more information about becoming a member of the Youth Council email estewart@peterborough.ca





Handy Advice for Better online safety

(1) Be social Media Savvy. Location features that allow anyone you are friends with to see exactly whre are brings risks. Protect yourself by disabling the GPS, webcam and microphone setting on your devices. Post your photos that have the location on them once you are safe at home.

(2) Secure your webcam. It is a privacy nightmare to think someone has remotely hijacked your webcam and is watching you with  out your knowledge. Although it is unlikely, if your laptop or desktop has a built in webcam, be sure to have a good computer security software installed.

(3) Practice Wi-Fi Wisdom. When setting the password for your Wi-Fi network, always follow the basic guidelines for establishing strong-passwords. Don't use a password that could be associated with your name, address or phone number.

(4) Dispose of digital devices safely. Whether you are recycling or selling or giving away your old device, make sure all of  your personal information has been backed up and then wiped out. Find more information online at www.GetCyberSafe.ca


How to practice mindfulness

Mindfulness can fit in to your life in many different ways. Formal practices such as yoga and meditation are great ways to work on mindfulness.

There are also many informal ways you can foster mindfulness, by bringing focused and curious attention  to things you already do. Here are some examples:

  • Mindful walking-When you go for a walk, pay attention to each step and the rhythm of you walking. Look at your surroundings, notice things and focus on the walk itself.
  • Mindful eating-Choose one meal a day to eat mindfully-breakfast is a good choice for most people. When you mindfully, chew and pay attention to the flavours and textures.
  • Mindful breathing-Take f few moments each day to practice mindful breathing. Focus on each breath and the sensations in your nose, throat, lungs and abdomen.
  • Unplug-Take time away from your phone and computer and do something you enjoy and do it mindfully.


    Clean Spaces make for happy faces

    Did you know urban places that include healthy green spaces make for happier, healthier environments. Studies show that not only are people more likely to enjoy communities that are nicely landscaped, they are also more likely to be physically active and feel safe. Some other benefits of healthy green spaces in urban environments include increased community pride, maintaining biodiversity by providing food and habitat for wildlife.