Just do something.
That was the message renowned environmentalist Jennifer Pate gave to several hundred Rotarians and their families at the Sarnia Public library last month.
Pate, of Bayfield is a geographer, entrepreneur and co-founder of an organization called Love Your Greats which is concerned about Great Lakes pollution.
She told her audience “we are polluting the Great Lakes in a whole new way with a whole new material …plastics”. And specifically she honed in on micro plastics that can barely be seen with the naked eye.
An avid sailor and environmentalist Pate described her research and the research of like – minded scientists and experts as nothing short of “alarming”. She outlined the problem with plastics as an inability to bio grade.
Pate explained that most plastics photo degrade into smaller pieces that scatter across the surface of the Great Lakes and end up in fish and aquatic organisms. “We have permitted our lakes to be used as a dumping ground and plastics have aggravated an ever growing problem”.
Pate says she is taking speaking opportunities like the one in Sarnia to make people aware so that unseen micro plastics can be seen.
During a question and answer session she spoke extensively about recycling and the need for public education. “People need to be aware that they can contaminate the recycling system and impede its efficient operation by disposing of plastics with food or by attempting to dispose of the wrong kind of plastics”.
Pate, whose own community has launched an extensive educational program and formed a “blue alliance” known as Blue Bayfield says her mission is to reduce the use of disposable single use plastics and prevent plastics and pollutants from entering the Great Lakes.
Blue Bayfield is responsible for installing multiple water bottle refilling stations throughout the village, providing mobile water units at events and is extensively involved in beach and park clean ups.
She summed up her address by saying “when it comes to recycling we need to educate and become better at it”.
Recycling programs in Ontario have a low efficiency rate.