A few dozen protesters gathered on Victoria Street in downtown Trail on Friday as part of a global movement aimed at pressuring governments to act on combating climate change.
Members from the West Kootenay EcoSociety, business owners, locals and their children, as well as Green Party candidate Tara Howse, joined in to rally near the Trail bridge.
“It is a youth movement that is grassroots organized,” Howse clarified. “It’s not a ‘Green Party’ initiative at all, we just definitely support the movement.”
As well, later in the afternoon around 200 people came together in Rossland to support the youth climate strike in a march down the middle of Washington Street and Columbia Avenue.
“It was pretty incredible,” said Howse.
The Times talked with downtown Trail business owner Ashley Hodgson at the Friday demonstration, and asked her opinion on actions that need to be taken, now. Hodgson had closed her gift shop, Good Stuff, to stand for the cause .
She quickly honed in on the overuse of plastic in all aspects of life, but particularly, in business and in shipping.
“People do care and they do their part, I really feel they do,” she began. “But I feel like it’s going to come down to government – government has to make the rules for big business because it will not change. I get items to my store all the time covered in plastic,” she said. “When they ship it, I don’t have a choice as a business owner.”
She says it comes down to supply and demand. As long as plastics are the cheaper “legal” option, then that’s the route big businesses will continue to take until government steps in to stop the practice.
“As soon as we say we won’t accept this then the options will become cheaper … because, guess what? It will be the same price as the cheaper plastics if we have a lot of people saying that this is the only way, not plastics.”
Even when consumers are making conscious choices such as buying lettuce that is not wrapped in cellophane, Hodgson says at some point in the retail chain, the product has been secured in plastic for transport.
“Unless it’s from a local farm where they’ve picked it and literally brought it to the market without putting it in plastic,” she said. “That’s the only stuff that isn’t touching plastic.”
Hodgson does what she can, like paying extra to only stock recycled bags. As well, she offers whatever eco-friendly products she can source on the market.
For example, instead of selling plastic straws, Hodgson carries a biodegradable choice.
“They are still like a plastic material,” she explained. “But you put them in the sun and they melt.”
However, environmentally-friendly choices are very limited, she says.
“There are options out there but we don’t have demand because the government isn’t saying, ‘No (plastics) aren’t acceptable,” she added. “It all starts with the rules.
“The government has to make the policies to ban plastics and ban Styrofoams, because there are so many better options out there, for pennies on the dollar.”