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

The Council of Canadians
3 years ago

The website “Random Acts of Green” recently highlighted how one community in North America is saying goodbye to plastics.

Bayfield, Ontario, a small community that sits at the edge of Lake Huron in Ontario, has been an environmental leader in many ways. Most recently, it has done a lot of work locally to raise awareness about the environmental impacts of plastic and has become the first place in North America to be recognized as a “Plastic-Free Community.”

Plastic is a growing environmental concern, particularly its impacts on local waters. According to the website, recent studies of the Great Lakes indicate there are more than twice the pieces of plastics per square kilometre in the Great Lakes than in the oceans. The ocean has 220,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometre of its surface while the Great Lakes have 450,000 pieces per square kilometre.

There are five actions that must be completed in order to be recognized as a Plastic-Free Community:

  1. Governance – A resolution from council or governing body.
     
  2. Engage businesses – Have at least three local businesses commit to eliminating the use of plastics.
     
  3. Alliances – engage community groups.
     
  4. Form a steering committee – bring people together to work on the issue.
     
  5. Hold rallies – cleanups, speaking engagements or other ways to the community.

The Plastic-Free Community movement has inspired 80 per cent of Bayfield eateries to commit to eliminating ALL single-use plastics and polysterene – and more are joining in!

Addressing the impacts of plastics isn’t the only environmental achievement for the community. Thanks to the work of dedicated volunteers, in 2015 Bayfield earned the Council of Canadians’ and CUPE's “Blue Community” designation by passing municipal resolutions to recognize water and sanitation as human rights, ban the sale of bottled water at municipal buildings and events, and promote publicly owned and financed water and wastewater services.

Through the Friends of Blue Bayfield Association, 2,500 refillable bottles have been distributed and with the help of sponsors, five water refill stations can be found in the village. More than 30,000 water refills have been enjoyed by local residents.

Maude Barlow, Honorary Chairperson of the Council of Canadians said, “We are all so proud of our friends in Bayfield who have become the first community in North America to go plastics-free. Sitting on beautiful Lake Huron and knowing what micro-plastics are doing to the lake, Bayfield residents decided to prove that a plastics-free lifestyle is possible.”

The Council of Canadians extends our heartfelt congratulations to Bayfield residents for their ongoing environmental leadership.