Students, activists receive P.E.I. environmental awards
'A lot of small changes add up to big changes'
The P.E.I. Environmental Awards were handed out Wednesday and brought together some of the Island's most experienced environmental leaders with some of its youngest.
The annual awards honour Islanders who have worked to protect and enhance the environment, and this year's recipients were recognized for their work eliminating single-use plastics and protecting the oceans and forests.
"The connection between Islanders, the land and the sea is a deeply personal one," said Mike Gilbertson, chair of the environmental advisory council. "Our award winners have all taken actions that have a transformative, positive impact on the environment."
The individual award went to Tony Reddin and Marion Copleston, who have been dedicated to environmental education and leadership in P.E.I. for more than three decades.
Reddin and Copleston have organized campaigns with Save Our Seas and Shores, the Gulf coalition to protect marine ecosystems from oil drilling, and Citizens Concerned About the Plan B Highway Proposal.
"Connecting with nature and the environment is so important, to have that respect for it and to want to care for it," said Copleston. "Any change is important. A lot of small changes add up to big changes, so every little bit helps a lot."
A class of grades 4-6 Sunday school students at Trinity United Church captured the award for the group category.
The award recognized the students for reducing their use of plastic water bottles. Students followed through by asking members of the church to replace Styrofoam cups with biodegradable cups and take-out dinners are now delivered in biodegradable cardboard instead of Styrofoam containers. Real plates are now used at church suppers.
Spring Park Elementary School's Grade 4 French-immersion class, captured the award in the schools category.
Students learned about the problems with single-use plastic containers and other items.
They discovered the spoons they were using for their Friday ice cream would not decompose, so they made a commitment to bring reusable utensils with their lunch.
'Change a lot of people's lives'
The initiative has resulted in fewer plastic spoons being given out by the school.
"One person isn't that much, but it can still make a big difference and a whole class can make a bit more of a big difference," student Isaac Landry said.
"Small changes, if you look at it by a different perspective, it can change a lot of people's lives," added classmate Abby MacDonald.
As the winner of the environmental school challenge, Spring Park Elementary School will receive a $3,000 prize.