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Earier this month, our Greenpeace Winnipeg local group volunteers organized a film screening and panel discussion to engage people on the topic of the growing plastic crisis in their community and around the globe. They screened the award-winning film
“Bag It” and invited 3 distinct guest speakers and local experts to connect with the audience on a deeper level. The event was a success, with over 40  people in attendance. High fives to our Winnipeg team! Lots of good questions were asked, and answered, and folks left with a sense of urgency in their hearts to help make change happen!  I asked Cam Sheppard, one of the Winnipeg local group organizers, and panel moderator, what he had to say about the event. Here’s what he shared:

Why did Greenpeace Winnipeg volunteers decide to show this film in particular?

We are seeing more and more plastic use worldwide including here in Manitoba and are hoping to shed some light on the fact that only reducing straws (as we are doing more and more here in Winnipeg with our Strawless Summer campaign) is not enough. Simple changes can go a long way by not only decreasing the amount of garbage going to landfills but also by reducing the amount of plastic-related diseases and ailments. The more we can lead and encourage people to make more educated decisions around single-use plastics, the faster we can move towards a society that is doing away with and creating alternatives to single-use plastic. “Bag It” sheds light on a SUP that is unnecessary and delves further into how much waste finds its way into waterways and the ocean, and also shows the science behind what we may accidentally be ingesting because it came in plastic.

What impact do you think films and panel discussions can have on movement building in general and on tackling the problem of plastic-pollution?

Film screenings are a fantastic way to start the conversation about topics that people may want to know more about, but may not know where to start or how to move towards their goals. Just showing a film, however, provides a disconnect from the topic when you have those interested in the topic altogether in the same room. By pairing a film screening with a discussion, and calling upon experts in the field to speak more about the topic and what can be done at a local level really brings the amount of interest up another notch. It allows for some phenomenal questions and answers to come from the participants in dialogue with those panellists who may know more than the organizers of the event or those attending it. The ideas and information expressed in the films truly can resonate with the viewers and can lead to a lifetime of more informed choices such as vowing to not allow the chemicals from plastics to enter their bodies or the bodies of their children who may be senselessly ingesting harmful chemicals because of the choices of their parents.

Who spoke at your event?

Kayla Buehler (left) is the creator of Create Simple, an online community focused on teaching people about simple, sustainable solutions to incorporate into their lives. She only recently began her journey into living a greener and more sustainable lifestyle but wanted to teach others the many ways they can also start to live more sustainable lives. She has a passion for learning and sharing her knowledge with others and is always looking for opportunities to make positive changes in her community. Kayla is in her final year of the Creative Communications program at Red River College.

Marisa Loreno (centre), founder of Zerowaste Manitoba, lived a life with intention until she ventured into zerowaste in the summer of 2016 and took a closer look at the trash around her. After the transition to less waste, a newfound focus on pulling all the resources and organizations in Manitoba together, to generate more local knowledge that is tailored to a less wasteful life in Manitoba, seemed necessary.

Pepper Pritty (right) is a Registered Nurse and practices as a Public Health Consultant and specializes in Environmental Health. With a background in Agriculture and a master’s degree in Natural Resources Management, she is currently a doctoral student in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Manitoba studying Indigenous built and social environments. She is passionate about chronic disease prevention and promoting land-based teachings as a source of health and healing.

What important messages were shared at the event?

Most of the panellist had similar messages in their reasons for reducing waste – needing to start somewhere, reducing their carbon footprint and trying to lead by example. Most also spoke about “refusing” being the #1 step with recycling as a last resort. They also all agreed that being prepared with your own reusables like cutlery, straws, water bottles, cloth bags, Tupperware etc, was also essential to collectively reducing the number of SUPs being given out. The main message was one of being open to educating others about why you are bringing your own reusable supplies and why refusing SUPs is vital to the fight against senseless plastic.

What’s next for the Greenpeace Winnipeg local group and how to get involved? 

We are holding a meeting on Thursday, April 11 from 6:30 -8:00 at the St Boniface Public Library to inform people about what Greenpeace Winnipeg is planning.  We plan to give a brief overview of Greenpeace Canada’s national campaigns and calls to action,  and then we will focus on Greenpeace Winnipeg’s local plastics campaign – The Strawless Summer – and how people can volunteer and sign up to help. We need more assistance with this popular campaign and there are many ways to get involved in this work!

So there you have it! Many thanks to Cam for sharing, and to the rest of the team in Winnipeg for being so incredibly positive and dedicated to making positive change happen in their community. Thanks for the inspiration.

Aspa Tzaras
Greenpeace National Local Group Coordinator

To get in touch with our group of volunteers in Winnipeg.  Please connect with the Greenpeace Winnipeg local group directly through their website, or on Greenwire!