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Local youth advocates for plastic ban

Jade Janzen is looking to change Cochrane's footprint, one single-use piece of plastic at a time.
Jade Janzen lays out the plastic alternatives she and her family use on a daily basis – beeswax wrap (used in place of plastic wrap), metal straws (in place of plastic), reusable lunch bags and sandwich wrapper and netting to carry fruit are among her go-to items.

Jade Janzen is looking to change Cochrane's footprint, one single-use piece of plastic at a time. The 13-year-old Mitford Middle School student, is readying to present to town council some time next month on her notion to ban single-use plastic bags from stores and straws in sit-down restaurants in Cochrane. Jade, who hails from an eco-conscious family, took the seed planted by a school project last year and is hopeful council will consider her idea as a bylaw, after receiving positive feedback from Couns. Marni Fedeyko and Tara McFadden and members of administration recently "I've always been environmentally-conscious ... why can't Cochrane do this? Because bigger cities have done this," said Jade, with reference to like-minded bans in other, larger Canadian cities like Montreal, Que., Thompson, Man. and Victoria, B.C.- where single-use plastic bags have been banned. Vancouver and Thompson, Man. are Canadian cities that have banned single-use plastic straws. Jade's research reveals that one billion plastic straws are thrown out around the world each day. Single-use plastic bags are used for 12 minutes on average and only 12 per cent make it to the recycling plant - of which only one per cent are actually recycled. These microplastics take an average of 500 years to break down. With the help of Fabrizio Bertolo, manager of waste and recycling for the town, Jade is talking to local restaurants about her idea and is hopeful Bertolo will move forward with a pilot project soon. "I told her it was a great idea," said Bertolo, adding that they are investigating a pilot but want to minimize any negative potential impacts to the restaurant industry. Currently, he is researching costs of compostable straws. "There are already a lot of restaurants in town that aren't (automatically) putting straws in glasses ... it's all waste reduction." "She's always been like this," laughed mom Jennifer Janzen, an environmental consultant and former biologist with Alberta Tomorrow, remembering when her daughter was a toddler, picking stuff up off the ground and asking if it should go in the recycling bin, never the garbage. "Jade has just always been aware and taken an interest in environmental issues ... this initiative was all her." Jade said she thinks the hardest part for people will be to embrace change, but that starting with little habits like asking for water with no straw or leaving reusable bags in the car for shopping has to start somewhere. Grayson Adams was Jade's teacher in grades one and four at Glenbow Elementary (he now teaches at Fireside School). Adams wasn't the least bit surprised about Jade's initiative and is pleased to see her take such a positive approach - one he feels will inspire the community. "Jade has such a heart for the earth and how the earth and people really are one system," he said, adding that Jade is "such a bright light" who brings positivity to everyone around her.  

Lindsay  Seewalt

About the Author: Lindsay Seewalt

Lindsay is a senior Eagle reporter who has transformed her penchant for storytelling into the craft of writing.
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