Surfrider chapter manager Gillian Montgomery, left, with volunteers at the Labour Day clean-up of Nigei Island. Photo by Michelle Munkittrick

Surfrider chapter manager Gillian Montgomery, left, with volunteers at the Labour Day clean-up of Nigei Island. Photo by Michelle Munkittrick

When it comes to plastics, ‘people are lazy,’ and the plastics industry knows it, says advocate

City-Wide Beach Clean-Up to hit nine beaches on Sunday morning

As Gillian Montgomery walked through the grocery aisle on Wednesday afternoon she was dumbfounded by the needless amounts of single-use plastic wrapping most of the food items.

“Look in my bin, I don’t have anything that’s plastic but I look around the store and [nearly] everything is wrapped in plastic,” she says. “We need to solve this problem, there is no regulation over this plastics industry.

“We live in a complacent culture that’s filled with convenience and the plastics industry has taken advantage of that. They know that people are lazy.”

Montgomery volunteers with Surfrider Vancouver Island in pressuring for regulations in the plastics industry and also organizes beach clean-ups.

READ MORE: Plastic poses problem on Saanich beach

READ ALSO: World coastal rowing championships will have beach clean-up

On Sunday, the local Surfrider chapter leads the second annual City-Wide Beach Clean-Up on at least nine beaches in Greater Victoria: Willows Beach, Cadboro Bay, Cordova Bay, Gonzales Beach, Clover Point, Ogden Point, Gorge Waterway, Lime Bay (next to Spinnakers), Esquimalt Lagoon and other beaches.

“We say ‘other’ because everyone is invited to clean up any beach,” Montgomery said.

(Inset photo: Gillian Montgomery and Annie Gibson at Victoria council to advocate for the bag ban.)

Surfrider will have team leaders at each of the beaches listed. The clean-up runs from 10 to 11:30 a.m. followed by a massive noon rendezvous at Clover Point to amalgamate all of the waste collected to sort and analyze it all.

READ MORE: UVic students, staff perplexed by plastic nurdles

Last month Montgomery and 13 others – 12 of them from Victoria – visited remote Nigei Island off the northern end of Vancouver Island. The group collected enough garbage in one weekend to fill nearly two-dozen super sacks and transported them to Port Hardy.

“It was a really eye-opening experience,” Montgomery said. “It was by far he worst amount of debris I’ve seen on a remote clean up. People in the group had done multiple cleanups for years and everyone agreed it was the worst beach that all of us had seen.”

The anti-plastic movement is a growing one and Montgomery has seen other groups take on remote beach clean-ups.

“There’s way too much out there and we need all the help we can get, as many people and organizations that can bring to light this issue is extremely important.”

READ ALSO: Victoria moves for regional plastic bag ban

On Tuesday, Oct. 9, the Story of Stuff released its results from a major global audit of identifiable plastic trash. It found Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestlé to be the most identified plastic polluters in global cleanups.

In 10 years of beach clean-ups, Montgomery says she identifies plastic from Tim Hortons and Starbucks the most.

So how do you buy food with a goal to minimize the amount of plastic purchased?

Firstly, it takes planning.

“You have to be meticulous,” Montgomery said. “Prepare yourself by bringing bags [and reusable] containers.”


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The results of a weekend clean-up at Nigei Island. Photo by Michelle Munkittrick

The results of a weekend clean-up at Nigei Island. Photo by Michelle Munkittrick