We are writing on behalf of Comox Valley Nurses for Health and the Environment and Comox Valley Regional Chapter for the Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC. We aim to raise awareness, implement actions, and undertake advocacy efforts on environmental health issues that threaten health and well-being. In keeping with this mission, we are currently advocating for the creation of a bylaw banning single-use plastic bags at point of sale in the Comox Valley.
So why should we ban the bag? In Canada, 200 plastic bags are used for every one of us annually (Plastic Oceans, 2018). In the Comox Valley, that equals 132 tonnes of plastic each year that never goes away. Plastic bags now comprise one of the biggest threats to the marine environment and remain toxic as microplastics even after they have broken down.
In a recent study, the Coastal Ocean Research Institute (2018) found up to 3,200 particles of microplastics per cubic metre of water in the Strait of Georgia.
Microplastics enter our drainage and water systems, are ingested by fish, and make their way up the food chain in this way.
We must take action as bans on plastic are being implemented in cities around the globe.
Entire countries have also been implementing bans, the current total being 54 countries.
By choosing to take this step toward a positive future, Comox, Courtenay, Cumberland, and the regional district areas will join other progressive villages, cities, and nations to counter environmental devastation and pollution.
Kate Moynihan, Lydia Hardy, Meghan Leahy
Third-year NIC BSN students