Bayfield becomes first community in North America to be recognized as a “Plastic Free Community”

Bayfield sits on the edges of Lake Huron, Ontario, and has a population of 1,112 people and is a community of Bluewater.

Historically, the little town has been known for making BIG environmental changes.
Spearheading new green initiatives comes easily for this town!

The area has already been designated a “Blue Community“, a project of the Council of Canadians, and have made massive strides to do away with plastic water bottles and install refillable stations.

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Image: @bayfieldontario

Through the Friends of Blue Bayfield Association, 2500 refillable bottles have been distributed and with the help of sponsors, 5 refill stations can be found in the village and over 30,000 refills have been undertaken at these sites! 

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They even have “Blue Betty”, an adult tricycle, who can be used to make freshwater available!

 

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Image: www.bluebayfield.ca

One man, Ray Letheren, a retired teacher from Toronto, has been involved heavily with these environmental movements – and has over 30 years of experience promoting “green”.

For instance, back in the 1990’s he was engaged in the Pesticide Free Ontario movement and worked hard for a number of years.

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Ray and Paula Letheren. Image: @bayfieldcountyecho

People were leaving Lake Huron with itchy skin and dogs had to be shaved because of the atrocious amounts of e-coli and nitrate in the water.

Upon learning about the role pesticides played in these health issues, he rounded up many initiatives to go “Pesticide Free”.

Now, in 2018, there has been an outcry to refuse single use plastics.

Did you know that recent studies of the Great Lakes indicate that there are more than twice the pieces of plastics per square km in the Great Lakes than in the oceans???

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Image: @loveyourgreats

The ocean has 220,000 pieces of plastic per square km on the surface – and the Great Lakes have 450,000 per square km on the surface…

This is a SCARY thought….

But seeing the trend toward plastic-free communities, Letheren undertook his newest project yet: to make the small community of Bayfield a PLASTIC FREE COMMUNITY (PFC).

In order to be recognized as  a Plastic Free Community you must meet the 5 pillars below:

1.  Governance – resolution from council or governing body

2.  Engage businesses – commit to at least 3 plastic elimination

3.  Alliances – engage community groups

4.  Steering committee – council + business

5.   Rallies – Two – cleanups forums speaking engagements

Congratulations to Blue Bayfield –the ONLY North American Plastic Free Community so far!

This Plastic Free Community movement has inspired 80% of Bayfield eateries to commit to eliminate ALL single-use plastics and polysterene – and this is just the beginning!

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Although there are some complications with getting started, including at some locations using up the 2-year inventory of plastic products that have already been ordered, Letheren has attracted a lot of support.

We asked him: how can we keep people motivated and not lose hope in our fight against climate change and for healthy water & environment?

He said we need to take things in chewable bits with small and manageable steps and to surround yourself with people who care and are committed!

Would you fight to make your community plastic free?!

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