Plastic Free Lunenburg — a group looking to ban single-use plastics in the postcard perfect town — recently held a public consultation to discuss the issue with residents.
The event took place on Jan. 24 at the Lunenburg Fire Hall and was co-hosted by the Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation.
Teresa Quilty, a member of Plastic Free Lunenburg, said the consensus from the event’s 200 participants was clear.
“People were much more ready for quick change than we thought,” said Quilty.
She explained that the majority of people were in favour of banning single-use plastics by June 1st.
Single-use plastics include items like plastic straws, cups and lids.
“We’re trying to gauge public interest and support and this tells us that people are really supportive of this happening very, very soon,” said Quilty. “I was actually amazed.”
The format for the event included an information session followed by public discussion.
At the end, people were allowed to vote on how they wanted various single-use plastics to be dealt with.
Quilty said the group is still gathering information before preparing a report to share at a later date.
The report will highlight community themes, issues and recommendations on single-use plastics in town.
The expected result, said Quilty, is to recommend working with the town to implement a by-law banning single-use plastics.
A community initiative
Quilty said that there has been a dramatic shift in the way single-use plastics are perceived by the community.
“The issue has exploded so quickly,” she said.
Plastic Free Lunenburg first started approaching businesses in April, 2018; they have since followed up, speaking to every restaurant and cafe a few months later.
“What was fascinating was the huge change that had happened in that six months,” said group member Jennifer Constable.
Many businesses in town are making the effort to find green alternatives but Constable added it is important for owners to have the right information.
“What we really don’t want to see is businesses in Lunenburg spending a lot of money to try and do the right thing and still end up with products that aren’t compostable in our systems,” she said.
“We want to encourage businesses in town to do the right thing and save themselves money.”
But both Quilty and Constable said the provincial government needs to take a leadership role in the fight against plastics.
“We’re not seeing any action at a provincial level,” said Constable.
Quilty agreed, adding that the province was leaving municipalities to regulate themselves on the issue.
“The provincial government has been really clear that they won’t be doing anything on this, that they’re leaving it to the municipalities,” she said.
“They’re tone-deaf on this issue because there’s clearly so much energy.”