Project Engage! is a student-led community engagement project where students at Marshview Middle School worked with a Mount Allison University student. Their goal was to identify an environmental issue in our local community, study the impact of that issue and look for possible solutions. The Environment Group, also known as The Mighty Earth Warriors identified single-use plastics as a particularly significant issue in local restaurants in our community, that was also identified as an issue in the community Sustainability Plan, known as Sustainable Sackville. The group’s vision is that we have a responsibility to act as custodians of nature, to protect both the health of our communities and the health of natural ecosystems. The group wanted to measure the amount of single-use plastics that were present in our restaurants and food sector and report their findings to the Mayor, Council and the larger community, including their peers at school. Their overall conclusion was that “it is important that we use less plastic, move towards sustainable products and services and come up with technology that recycles plastic more efficiently.”

This was a completely student-led group; 8 youth members of Marshview Middle School and one Mount Allison Student. They met each Wednesday afternoon from 1:00 – 2:30 as part of the Engage! Program. They developed a research methodology to measure the amount of single-use plastics being used in each restaurant and food sales location. They also researched the global issue of single-use plastics in the environment, specifically micro-plastics and land-fills and recycling issues associated with single-use items. Further, they visited the local waste management facility, ECO 360 in Moncton, NB to research the recycling process and the scale of the problem in our region of Canada.

After surveying each restaurant, the students created a research results presentation, including the degree to which single-use plastics were being used, why they were being selected by store owners, and ways in which these places might use different products and processes in their businesses. This community engagement process was then shared with all 300 students, teachers and parents at a school-wide assembly in December of 2018. The Mighty Earth Warrior members then took their results to the Mayor and Town Council, presenting their project at a Town Council Meeting and listing several recommendations for change in the Town’s sustainability plan. Finally, the group members wrote an Op-Ed article on their project and why it is important for all citizens to be aware of that was printed in the local newspaper, The Sackville Tribune Post.

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