Class tackling water bottle waste

Duane Hicks

While the Town of Fort Frances does not have the ability to ban the sale of plastic bottled water, it is doing what it can to encourage the public to use reusable water containers–including asking for some local students for help in spreading the word.
In response to letters from Artina Gurski’s Grade 5 class at St. Francis School warning town council about the environmental harm caused by disposable water bottles, and asking the town to consider banning them among other measures, Coun. Paul Ryan wrote a letter back.
Coun. Ryan, who chairs the Operations and Facilities executive committee, explained the town helps collect and process recyclable materials such as plastic–including water bottles–with its curbside “blue box” collection program and the public recycling depot, where local residents can deposit co-mingled recycling in the compactor.
The town, in an effort to reduce the use of single-use water bottles, also has drinking water fountains where the public can fill a reusable bottle at the Lions Park and Legion Park, as well as at the Rainy Lake Square, he noted.
The Memorial Sports Centre, in partnership with the Northwestern Health Unit, also installed two bottle-filling stations there last year.
“Unfortunately, the Town of Fort Frances’ mayor and council cannot prohibit the use or sale of bottled water within the town,” Coun. Ryan wrote.
“However, we share in your commitment to ensuring that these materials are properly handled and recycled.
“We are asking you to put together an informational sheet for the residents of the town that we can put into every water bill that we send out to spread the word about plastics and recycling within the Town of Fort Frances,” he added.
Students in Gurski’s class made it clear how strongly they feel about the harmful impact of plastic waste on the environment.
“Plastic water bottles make up almost half of the world’s pollution,” wrote Kassidy Gurniak. “They are also killing animals every minute.
“More than 1,000 people open a plastic water bottle every second,” she noted. “When you think of it, that’s a lot of sea animals gone.
“We throw away so much plastic, it can circle the Earth about four times,” she stressed.
“But even worse, we’re harming our world with plastic bottles,” Gurniak added. “So I’m trying to save sea animals and try to change the world by stopping plastic bottle pollution.
“That would be magnificent!”
“I think plastic water bottles are bad for the environment because they are thrown in our lakes and ocean every second,” wrote Reese Kabatay.
“Plastic water bottles break down into such small pieces that they end up in every beach throughout the world,” he noted.
“I would replace plastic water bottle by making fountains available outside parks or the Sorting Gap and the Fort Frances Library,” Kabatay suggested.
“You can sell reusable water bottles in vending machines or at town-owned buildings such as the sportsplex, library, or museum and town hall.”
“Our class thought about some ways to solve the problems,” offered Cadence Smith-Anderson.
“Use your tap water more often,” she said. “Make water fountains available outside in our parks, downtown, Sorting Gap, and the airport.”