• James Armstrong

Hudson Yacht Club takes steps against single-use plastics


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Jacob Townsend along with other members of the Hudson Yacht Club youth group was instrumental in helping adopt the move to eliminate single-use plastic products.

Members of the Hudson Yacht Club have launched a campaign to eliminate single-use plastic items from the food and drinks consumed at their club.

“We started this about two months ago,” said Food Services Director for the organization Cynthia Shinn this week. “It’s a process and it has taken time to carry out the elimination and replacement of plastic items,” she said.

“We no longer have bottled water or other plastic bottled drinks. We have brought in reusable, washable plastic cups for the bar, beach and canteen.” Plastic straws were the first disposable items to go, though paper straws are available upon request. Plastic cutlery has also been replaced with wooden forks, spoons, and knives, and the club also uses paper plates. “We estimated that before eliminating single-use plastic, we were using 2500 to 3000 throwaway bottles per season,” she added.

Full support from board members

Shinn noted that the organization’s board of directors supported the initiative from the beginning but it was the youth program participants who really turned it into a success.

“They would have contests to see who could bring in the most trash from around the property. They made banners, put up posters and they motivated other members to become involved,” said Shinn.

The focus on recycling meant that more bins for that purpose and trash collection needed to be placed around the property. “I caught myself standing next to a recycling and a garbage bin sorting out the articles into the right bin,” she said with a laugh asking rhetorically, “How difficult can it be to put it in the right bin?”

She pointed out the challenge is getting people to think about the issue and change their habits.

Viable options

The club now promotes and sells reusable personal water bottles and has installed a refilling station and water fountain next to the canteen. The water station comes equipped with a device that keeps track of the number of plastic bottles saved by using the service. As of publication, 1953 plastic bottles had been saved.

For 13-year-old Yacht Club member Jacob Townsend, the elimination of single-use plastics is a positive move for the club. He and his counterparts are involved in the upcoming Fruit Bowl Regatta that starts Thursday, July 19 and runs until Sunday, July 22.

“It’s a youth training regatta, perhaps one of the largest in Canada,” said Shinn. “We are encouraging people not to bring single-use plastic bottles to the event.” She pointed out that, in an effort to promote the initiative, their corporate sponsor for the event, Bell Canada, had donated 200 stainless steel water bottles.

“On a global level, the situation with plastic pollution is alarming and overwhelming. However, if we all make an effort at the local level, it will make a difference,” said Shinn. “Our next step is to learn how to recycle effectively and make purchases that eliminate plastic.”

Looking ahead

The next step is more education and eliminating more plastic. “The question is can we eliminate more plastic and remain sanitary?” noted Shinn. “Human nature seems to indicate that if something becomes too difficult, it won’t happen.”

As an example, she recounted how plastic cutlery had been replaced by metal cutlery from earlier period. The problem was that people left metal cutlery on the beach and it became a hazard for barefoot beach visitors. For Shinn, it’s simply a question becoming more aware of the problem and finding solutions.

Shinn also credits her two counterparts on the committee who organized the initiative, Jessica Lombard and Femka Leduc for inspiring the club to meet the challenge.

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