Ban the bag: Inuvik kids want to send plastics packing

CBC Kids News • Published 2019-05-01 07:00

Plastics aren't recycled in Inuvik

“If another community can do it, why can’t we?”

That’s what 12-year-old Tessa Jenks said when asked why she thought it would be possible to ban single-use plastics — like plastic grocery bags and plastic wrap — in Inuvik, N.W.T.

Jenks was referring to the fact that plastic bags are banned in Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., a community about 150 kilometres further north.

During her meeting with the manager of a local grocery store, Grade 6 student Tessa Jenks used peppers as an example of a product she thinks is wrapped in too much plastic. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

Jenks is part of a group of kids who’ve been marching around the Inuvik Northmart during the noon hour almost every Friday since March 15.

Their protests were partly inspired by the #FridaysForFuture movement, which saw kids around the world skipping school to call for action on climate change.

Group of kids on sidewalk hold signs that say things like ban single use plastics.

The group doesn’t have an official name, but calls itself Climate Action Inuvik on Facebook. (Abe Drennan/Facebook)

Jenks and her fellow marchers got to meet with Northmart manager Kevin Giesbrecht at Inuvik Town Hall on April 3 and ask questions about the use of plastic in his store.

“I would like to definitely look into maybe, possibly, not having plastic bags anymore,” he said at the end of the meeting.

In the meantime, Giesbrecht is giving the kids 2,000 cloth bags to hand out to Northmart customers for free on May 3, which is the same day as a Canada-wide #FridaysForFuture march.

Inuvik Mayor Natasha Kulikowski said she’s already seeing the impact of climate change on her town, including more snow in the winter, so she supports the marchers.

A ban on single-use plastics would require a big commitment from everybody in Inuvik to change their habits, she said, but it’s “not impossible.”

Girl holds sign that says No More above a plastic bag

The kids say they’re hoping that if the Northmart bans plastic bags, other stores in town would do the same. (Abe Drennan/Facebook)

Right now, plastics aren’t recycled in Inuvik.

Only drinking containers that you pay a deposit on can be returned for recycling, as well as old electronics.

Everything else goes to the dump just outside of town.

Girl holds sign that says If we don't act now what will our future look like? With picture of planet.

The Friday marches in Inuvik will continue, the kids say, and they’re going to keep setting new goals for how to address climate change in their town. (Weronika Murray/Facebook)

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