After raising concerns over single-use plastic with the manager of the local Northmart last month, members of Climate Action Inuvik were invited to the store on May 3 to hand out two free reusable bags to each shopper as they checked out their items at the registers.
Store manager Kevin Giesbrecht said he approached his superiors shortly after last month’s meeting with the group, where it was decided that the store would donate reusable bags to customers as a means of reducing their plastic usage.
“The students have worked hard on this. I think they’ve done an amazing job,” said Giesbrecht. “By them presenting the bags to community members, it’s just getting them tools in hopes of reducing plastic bags. It’s up to them on this. It’s all about them right now.”
Climate Action Inuvik has been pushing for a plastic-free community since its first demonstration on March 15. Almost every Friday for the past two months, the group has marched through the town’s downtown core to raise awareness of climate change and pollution.
“It’s a really good initiative. It does help the environment,” said Giesbrecht. “It does absolutely, so why not? Why not help them out and go from there?”
Giesbrecht said he will continue to support the group because he believes their efforts can make a difference in town.
“What they are doing in this community, it’s showing youth pushing really hard for a topic that they believe in,” he said. “They’re smiling, they’re happy. They’re having fun doing this. It’s something that they believe in. It’s quite amazing.”
Fletcher Dares, a Grade 9 student at East Three Secondary School and member of Climate Action Inuvik, said Northmart’s support tells him they take the group seriously.
“It’s really nice that they support our group and that they’re willing to make changes to how things go,” said Dares. “It’s going to be a really positive impact to hopefully influence maybe some other global groceries or businesses to follow the same route.”
Fellow group member Rachel Blakeston, a Grade 4 student at East Three Elementary School, said she knew from the beginning that the group would bring some sort of change into town.
“We didn’t exactly know that we’d be doing this, but we knew that we would do something big to get people to stop using plastic bags,” said Blakeston.
As for discontinuing the store’s distribution of plastic bags altogether, Giesbrecht said that isn’t his decision to make.
“We can do with what we’re doing right here, providing people with the tools,” said Giesbrecht. “Again, it’s the community and what they want to do.”
However, he said the store has made efforts to cut down plastic usage in other areas of the store, including recently refraining from wrapping several produce items in plastic.
“We are working to see what other possible solutions to work at, just to see if we can do anything. There is no guarantees, but we’re trying to do what is best,” he said.