Nfld. & Labrador

'It's killing the earth': Grade 1 students ask province to ban plastic bags

They might only be six-years-old, but these students at Bishop Feild Elementary in St. John’s are saying enough is enough when it comes to plastic bags.

After visit to "plastic forest," Bishop Feild students take action

After visiting the Robin Hood Bay dump and seeing how many plastic bags were at the landfill, the students of this Grade 1 class sent an impassioned letter to Environment Minister Andrew Parsons. (Submitted by Andrea Howard)

They might only be six years old, but these students at Bishop Feild Elementary in St. John's are saying enough is enough when it comes to plastic bags.

After a recent field trip to the Robin Hood Bay dump, Grade 1 students Oscar Elms, Abigail Tucker and Ben Harris were shocked to learn about the "plastic forest" — a section of the East Coast Trail covered with plastic bags that have blown over from the dump.

"The thing that I saw was a plastic forest that's full of plastic shopping bags," said Oscar Elms in an interview with CBC's St. John's Morning Show Monday.

"It was so gross. It disgusted me, it disturbed me."

Grade 1 students Benjamin Harris, Oscar Elms, and Abigail Tucker are speaking out against plastic bags. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

With advice from teacher Andrea Howard, city councillor Maggie Burton and deputy mayor Sheilagh O'Leary, two Grade 1 classes at Bishop Feild Elementary decided to write a letter to Environment Minister Andrew Parsons asking for a total plastic bag ban across Newfoundland and Labrador.

We are only 6 years old and want our planet to stay pretty for our future.  We have an idea ... maybe if you gave every household big garbage cans for the recycling program you can now give them 10 re-usable bags to get them started on banning plastic bags!-A section of the letter sent by Grade 1 students at Bishop Feild  Elementary

They sent it on Friday. 

"There was plastic bags blowing in the trees, plastic bags on the ground," said Abigail Tucker.

"I don't know how much there were, about a hundred. I was really worried that there was gonna be animals choking on it and they were gonna think it's food."

Waiting on response from Parsons

Howard said her students have been learning all about environmental sustainability.

"It's a big part of our health curriculum, respecting our environments, teaching kids to recycle and re-use," she said.

A shot of the "plastic forest" located near the Robin Hood Bay dump. (Submitted by Andrea Howard)

The students would like to see the bags banned, and reusable bags made the new normal.

"We've got to stop using plastic bags and use cloth and paper bags and use reusable bags," said Benjamin Harris.

"If we throw them on the ground, it's killing the earth."

Teacher Andrea Howard says that her students were outraged when they saw how many plastic bags were ending up in the woods. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)
St. John's city council has voted multiple times for a ban on single-use plastic bags, but the decision ultimately falls under provincial jurisdiction. 

Minister Parsons has yet to reach out to the students, but they are awaiting a reply.

With files from the St. John's Morning Show