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Plastic Free Lunenburg looks to capitalize on provincial, federal movement

Teresa Quilty, a founding member of Plastic Free Lunenburg, during the group’s presentation to Lunenburg Town Council back in June. - Ed Halverson / CKBW/Country 100.7
Teresa Quilty, a founding member of Plastic Free Lunenburg, during the group’s presentation to Lunenburg Town Council back in June. - Ed Halverson / CKBW/Country 100.7 - Contributed

‘We’ve been able to ride that wave,’ says group member

P.E.I. is the first province to officially ban plastic bags, the latest wave in a storm against single-use plastics.

But it's also a movement with roots close to home as community group Plastic Free Lunenburg (PFL) continues to receive provincial and national attention for their work.

The group’s goal of a comprehensive single-use plastics ban was recently featured on CBC’s The National, sharing their story from coast to coast.

For Teresa Quilty, one of PFL’s founding members, the last 14 months have been a whirlwind of advocacy.

“It just encourages us to go further and I think it helps build the momentum, as well,” she said during an interview with the South Shore Breaker.

“The National piece was focused on businesses and that’s fantastic because where the regulation needs to happen is for businesses.”

Quilty explained that consumers in town have been on board for some time but the trick is to get businesses to self-regulate.

And at the end of the day, she said, businesses will do what’s best for, well, business.

Quilty also pointed to other initiatives throughout town as indicators of Lunenburg’s plastic free movement.

For example, Coastal Action is in the midst of launching their Ocean Friendly Nova Scotia program which recognizes businesses for reducing plastics use.

Other initiatives, like Boomerang Bags, are another way that people are choosing to make a difference.

When asked about PFL’s journey, Quilty said she was amazed how far and how much the group had accomplished since starting in 2018.

She credited a dedicated group of volunteers and a thoughtful community for helping to bring about change.

“But we’ve also been able to hit the timing of this issue when public awareness and education have just mounted so much in the last few years. We’ve been able to ride that wave,” said Quilty.

And members of PFL are hoping Lunenburg Town Council will join the momentum when they reconvene on July 18 to discuss a proposed bylaw looking to ban single-use plastics.

Council moved at a meeting in June to prepare a staff report outlining the town’s legal authority to enforce a ban as well as exploring a ban on plastic bags, straws and cutlery.

At this time, Quilty said, the group doesn’t know what to expect from the general government committee meeting.

However, looking at the movement across provincial and federal governments, there are signs of change.

“Hopefully other provinces will be inspired by P.E.I. and will get moving faster,” she said. “We think that bags are a first step and we’d like to see that continue.”

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