The Green Team at Cape Breton Highlands Education Centre Academy (CBHECA) wanted to do something for their community this Earth Day. The wheels started turning about a year ago when I visited with their Team for a year-end wrap up meeting. Plastic was on everyone’s minds. Their school is located a few hundred meters from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the students had been reading about the impact that single use plastics have on marine health. The students recognized a big part of the problem was that many people still do not remember to bring reusable bags when they get their groceries at the local Co-op store.
The came up with a solution— boxes! Grocery stores have plenty of boxes that product comes shipped in. Usually these get flattened and send out with the recycling shortly after arriving at the store. “Why not make these available to customers to use for their groceries?” the students thought. Boxes are stronger than bags, can be reused or recycled when you get them home and they will biodegrade if they happen to end up anywhere other than the recycling facility.
Green Team leader Bruce Miller spoke with the manager of the Margaree Forks Co-op. She agreed that boxes were a good option. She said the plastic bags people receive for free when they buy their groceries, actually cost the small Co-op a lot of money each year. She was very open to an option that reduced expenses for the Co-op, was better for the Earth and engaged participation from the local High School students— the next generation of Co-op customers!
The only problem was that they had nowhere to store the boxes near the checkout. The Green Team students connected with the CTE construction class at CBHECA and had them build a big box...a box for boxes! The Green Team painted it and it now sits, full off boxes for customers to pack their groceries in. What a wonderful Earth Day initiative that is sure to continue reducing waste in their community for years to come.
~ Shandel Brown
Engagement Officer, Cape Breton