Cordova Bay students offer a lesson to us all

Every week a class at Cordova Bay Elementary School heads down to a nearby beach to help clean up.

They may not have cast a ballot in B.C.’s recent provincial election or fork over the property taxes that help keep the community running, but one group of Victoria-area youngsters is doing more than their part to make this part of the world a better place.

Every week Lisa Wergeland’s Grade 2/3 class at Cordova Bay elementary school heads down to nearby Fenn Beach to clean up the plastics and other litter they find strewn about. The cleanup efforts ensure the plastics don’t make it out to sea, where they could soon end up in the food chain.

“Certain things eat the plastic and the whole food chain can collapse,” said Grade 3 student Grace Daley.

It’s a message we hope will sink in with the rest of us. The message certainly got through to a nearby business. After receiving a letter from the class, the Beach House restaurant decided to replace their plastic straws with biodegradable ones. Beach House owner Kate Phoenix was so impressed by her young neighbour’s commitment she even volunteered to switch to biodegradable straws at her other restaurants, Dog Gone It and Sam’s Deli in Victoria.

But a single restaurant, or even three, and a classful of youngsters aren’t enough to make a dent in a problem of this magnitude, despite their best intentions. It is estimated that more than eight million tons of plastic are dumped into the world’s oceans each year. The Pacific trash vortex, comprised of tons of marine debris particles, covers an area of up to 15 million square kilometres in the North Pacific. And we can’t expect a class field trip to make that go away.

We don’t expect everyone to follow in the footsteps of the Cordova Bay students (although that certainly would be nice) but the least we can all do is make sure their task isn’t more difficult than it needs to be. The next time you or your family is on an outing to the beach, or park, or anywhere else for that matter, make sure to not leave any plastics or other items behind.

It has been said that a little child shall lead them. If only that were true in this case.

Black Press

Alberni Valley News