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Love Your Lake program continues to seek greener future through litter cleanups

A Greener Future’s flagship program, Love Your Lake, reached its goal of picking up 100,000 pieces of litter along Lake Ontario – 3,930 pieces from nine locations along the shores of Prince Edward County.

The Love Your Lake program, usually a public litter cleanup at 100 locations along Lake Ontario, was adapted to suit pandemic conditions, during the months of May and June. Litter was picked up by 68 volunteers during 242 cleanup events between Kingston and Niagara Falls.

Among usual cigarette butts, plastics and foam pieces, volunteers bagged 463 personal protective masks and gloves, a 635 per cent increase over the Love Your Lake 2020 count.

Carlos Ibbotson photo at Sandbanks Provincial Park.

“Last year we picked up a few pieces of PPE along the shores of Lake Ontario, but this year we’re finding it at almost every cleanup,” said Rochelle Byrne, A Greener Future’s founder and executive director. “The influx of single-use plastics and PPE Ontarians used during the pandemic to keep safe (such as disposable masks, plastic gloves, plastic cutlery for take-out, plastic shopping bags) has resulted in landfills and lakes being polluted at never-before-seen levels.”

“Throughout the program, we collect data on every piece of litter we pick up. This way, we can identify the ‘problem items’, advocate for solutions, and raise awareness about plastic pollution in Lake Ontario.”

Since 2014, A Greener Future has picked up more than two million pieces of litter. Programs raise awareness about plastic pollution in Lake Ontario, and help communities become good stewards of the environment.

Samantha Brewer, the group’s public relations assistant, notes that while removing masks, gloves, plastic bags, straws, etc., along lakes, parks, and trails is a valuable response to plastic pollution, it is not the solution.

“Fortunately, the Government of Canada has just listed plastic as a toxic substance, part of their plan to ban single-use plastics in 2021. Let me repeat that, toxic substance,” she said. “This very proactive decision by our government was supported by the Environment and Climate Change Canada and Health Canada 2020 study that found evidence that plastic harms the environment and wildlife. Under the Canada Environmental Protection Act, if a substance harms the environment and biodiversity, human health, or both, it can be considered toxic. With only 9 per cent of plastic in Canada recycled, recycling programs are just not something we can solely rely on to sustain our environment; banning single-use plastics is the first critical step to address plastic pollution.”

Learn more about the Love Your Lake program through A Greener Future’s website.

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  1. South Shore Joint Initiative is following A Greener Future’s program and expanding it with a South Shore Clean Up on September 18. Help clean up a road and/or beach area on the South Shore. Celebrate with Rochelle Byrne at the wrap up at the Hudgin House.
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