Small Ideas: $10,000

Description

Stitch ‘N’ Beach began as an event to raise awareness around “BYOB – Bring Your Own Bag” with the goal to create 1000 reusable bags for the Tofino Co-op Grocery before the kick off of Whale Festival in March, 2017. Our community surpassed this goal, and continued to make reusable bags for both the Tofino and Ucluelet Co-op Grocery stores, making it easier for people to say no to single use plastic bags. Both Co-ops were so inspired by this action and joined the movement by eliminating plastic bags from their checkouts in June and October 2017, which has saved 76,000 bags a year per Co-op from entering the environment each year. Through Stitch 'N' Beach and our Rise Above Plastics Program, we were able to successfully get the District of Tofino to pass a Motion to regulate single use plastics in June, 2018. In 2019, this will begin with banning all plastic bags and straws.

Today, Stitch ‘N’ Beach continues on as a community loved and operated program, which takes place twice a month, once in Tofino and once in Ucluelet. This group continues to make reusable bags out of recycled textiles, but also runs workshops to mend torn items as well as make alternatives to single use plastics like beeswax wrap. Around the holidays, this group also makes decorations and festive accoutrements, like fabric gift wrapping, stockings and Christmas tree ornaments! Off course, at all of our events, we also provide healthy snacks for people to enjoy. Thus, the founding ideology of this program is buying less, using what we have in creative ways to make "new" items, fixing and repairing rather than replacing, and of course, working to cut our community's ties to single use plastics. Through this environmentally progressive program, we are able to bring all ages of our community together, from little ones to older folks who are experts on the sewing machines! We welcome all residents, and also provide a space for visitors to come and mend their items, and make a reusable bag to take on their adventures!

Since its inception, this program has continued to grow. Now, we are looking to expand this community event to surrounding First Nation communities. Some great feedback we were given since Co-op Grocery eliminated plastic bags is that offshore First Nation communities are having a harder time adjusting to paper bags. Paper bags can get easily damaged on boats, and in the rainy season, they do not hold up against the wind and rain. So, we are working to change this by hosting Stitch 'N' Beach in these communities, bringing people together to mend items, share food, as well as make reusable bags. Our upcoming plan is to bring Stitch N Beach on November 13, 2018 to Opitsaht, a Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation village across the water from Tofino on Meares Island. If we receive funding for this idea, we will be able to giveaway 300 reusable bags to the community, enough for each person to have. We are also challenging Tofino and Ucluelet to also donate 300 bags to match the ones we are giving away. This way, all of these residents will own two reusable bags, and will not need plastic or paper for their shopping. Other surrounding First Nation communities we plan to bring this program to if we receive funding include Ahousaht, Hesquiaht, Itatsoo, and Ty-Histanis.

This program brings our community together, and in doing this, we are also raising awareness about the impact plastic pollution has on our oceans and beaches. We are actively working to change behaviours, assisting people from being dependent on single use plastics, to being makers and owners of the reusable movement. For our communities to thrive, we need healthy ecosystems. As a coastal community, our livelihood depends on a thriving ocean, as this is the source of our food, culture, economy and recreation. Through Stitch 'N' Beach, we are working to prevent plastic pollution from entering our seas, while creating communities that are centred around togetherness and coastal stewardship!

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Surfrider Foundation, Pacific Rim Chapter

Location: Tofino