AHOI and Lush are bringing “sustainable parties” and waste management solutions to the Gros Morne region

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Norris Point, N.L.- Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative (AHOI) is redefining the way people party in the Gros Morne region! With new funding, AHOI can now team up with communities, festivals and venues to ditch the single-use plastic (SUP) cups typically used at large gatherings and events, and replace them with reusable and infinitely recyclable options. It is one of several new AHOI initiatives made possible with the support from Lush Handmade Cosmetics Ltd. (Lush) Charity Pot. The charitable grant allows AHOI to do three important activities: offer plastic-free community events or “sustainable parties;” install rinse stations for reusables and recyclables at high-traffic areas; and support the installation of new signage for public waste and recycling bins in all seven communities making up the Gros Morne region.

The goal is to reduce the use of SUP products, improve waste diversion, and increase the recyclability of plastic waste, which were significant issues identified through AHOI’s research as presented in its recent Waste Management Report for Western NL.

“We are thrilled to bring these innovative ideas to the region, advance the research we have done to reduce plastic pollution and expand our efforts to make it a truly circular economic region.” says AHOI founder, Rebecca Brushett. “This coastal region is a global destination for various activities that connect with our environment so we have a great opportunity to make an impact on reducing our plastic use and show that we can accommodate events, tourism activity and visitation in sustainable ways.”

AHOI is now equipped with 800 beverage containers, most of which are Ball Aluminum Cups that are both reusable and infinitely recyclable. Event goers can “rent a cup” and get their money back upon return; ensuring the metal cups stay in the closed loop system AHOI has designed. AHOI also has two mobile wash stations where cups can be washed and reused at any site - with or without access to water.

The first local event to give “sustainable parties” a try is the Harbour Lights Festival in Rocky Harbour slated to start on July 28. 

“We support AHOI and the initiative to help reduce the use of plastic in our community.  We are pleased to jump on board and offer the reusable cups to individuals visiting our festival.” says Beverly Snow of the Harbour Lights Festival committee. “We understand the effect plastic is having on our environment and feel that everything we do, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction.  Also, this will help educate and raise awareness regarding the amount of plastic we bring into our communities that will end up in the landfill site.”

 

AHOI is also supporting sustainable events at a popular venue in Woody Point. With AHOI’s support, the Heritage Theatre, where Writers at Woody Point and other festivals take place, will get a commercial dishwasher and various types of reusable drinkware.

 

“Writers at Woody Point is a celebration of stories that brings audiences from across the world together, to share in both the pristine beauty of this land and the artistic culture it sustains.” says Pilvi Keto-LeBlanc, Executive Director of Writers at Woody Point. “We strive to be responsible stewards, to ensure that stories continue to be shared here for future generations. To make our story greener, we are excited to receive the support of AHOI. Such an asset will allow us to move toward a plastic-free venue where quality and sustainability align. We are committed to doing our part to positively contribute to both arts & culture and the environment here in Bonne Bay.”

 

In a region that welcomes up to 250,000 visitors annually, it is also important that fail-safes are included in the recycling systems and that people are aware of the local waste sorting guidelines when they drop their waste into a bin. Considering that visitors may not speak English or be familiar with local sorting, AHOI is bringing new informative, bilingual signage to bins in high-traffic sites for all seven communities. The signs will match those AHOI worked on with Gros Morne National Park and Gros Morne Cooperating Association in 2021. The towns of Norris Point and Rocky Harbour are already on board with using the signs in their communities. 

“Norris Point is excited to see new signage installed throughout the community to help assist people on the proper disposal of their waste at designated sites.” says Norris Point Town Clerk-Manager, Jennifer Samms. “We are happy to partner with AHOI on this initiative.”

Lastly, AHOI will focus on installing rinse stations to ensure public and national park recyclables get effectively recycled. With the Town of Rocky Harbour’s approval, AHOI will set up a rinse station pilot program at the Green Depot in August of 2022. This program will take hundreds of pounds of contaminated public recyclables - usually destined for the landfill - and rinse them to improve their recyclability before they are sent to the transfer station and on for further processing.

AHOI has been leading the change in Gros Morne and with this funding from Lush, is able to keep the momentum going and introduce these new products and models for sustainable communities.

 

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For more information, please contact: 

Rebecca Brushett, Founder of Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative

atlantichealthyoceans@gmail.com

(709)691-0485

Tara Howse, Logistics and Communications Coordinator, AHOI 

ahoi.info@gmail.com 

(709) 899-2468 


 

BACKGROUND

Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative (AHOI) is a registered non-profit organization that raises awareness of our changing ocean and facilitates actions to protect it and communities that depend on it most. Studies show that approximately 80% of plastic waste that ends up in our ocean comes from land-based sources. AHOI works closely with businesses, town councils, other NGOs, and community members to transition away from single-use plastics and in 2020, these efforts were significantly amplified through AHOI’s two-year Zero Plastic Waste Gros Morne Initiative. The work being done with Lush funding stems from the culmination of three years of research and activities in the Gros Morne region, and focuses on some of the recommendations put forward in the report titled, Assessing the Waste Management System in the Gros Morne region.

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Photos: One of two wash stations and some of the reusable drinkware, including infinitely recyclable Ball aluminum cups, that are now available for events and festivals in the Gros Morne region. Contact AHOI to find out how you can host your own "sustainable party!"

 
 

AHOI partnership to reduce plastic waste leads to Gros Morne National Park selection for nation-wide pilot project

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Thursday, June 30, 2022

Norris Point, N.L.- The partnership between Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative (AHOI), Gros Morne National Park (GMNP) and the Gros Morne Co-operating Association (GMCA) has been instrumental in reducing plastic waste, improving waste diversion and cleaning coastlines in the Gros Morne region, and people are noticing! The accomplishments and ongoing efforts to make Gros Morne plastic free have led to the selection of Gros Morne National Park for a nation-wide Parks Canada pilot project called, Team Up and Clean Up the Shore.

 

“Marine litter and plastic waste is an issue from coast to coast to coast, even in protected areas,” says Julie LeBlanc, Acting Field Unit Superintendent. “Parks Canada wanted to develop a program where visitors and community members become citizen scientists. Team up and clean up the shore connects participants with shoreline conservation while gathering baseline data on marine litter and plastics. The information gathered will provide Parks Canada with more clarity on the extent of the issue and help to identify mitigation strategies."

 

AHOI and its partners are launching the second year of their partnership, Becoming Plastic Waste Free Gros Morne by introducing Parks Canada’s new self-guided shoreline cleanup kits, which visitors and residents can sign out and use at their leisure. These kits raise awareness of the impacts of marine litter and plastic pollution and encourage people to participate in protecting these areas from plastic’s harmful effects.

 

The cleanup kits include a data sheet with clipboard, burlap bag, bucket, reusable/washable gloves, weight scale, and a first aid kit. The kits used in Gros Morne are modeled after the national program kits, and include materials and cleanup procedures fine-tuned by AHOI, and used during the 2021 beach cleanups with GMNP and GMCA. This allows data collected as part of this national program to complement work that has already been established in Gros Morne.

 

“It’s not just about picking up trash and counting how much we collect; it’s also about knowing what we’re finding, where it’s coming from and how it’s getting there,” says Aaron Hingston, AHOI’s Waste Buster Team Leader. “Audits provide clues  to where the waste is coming from and help us develop effective strategies to prevent plastics and other waste from ending up there in the future. We’re happy to see this being adopted in other places, since plastic and all trash migrates from one place to another, regardless of borders.”

 

“It’s on all of us to keep our coastal communities and natural areas clean. People visit our region because of its pristine environment, and the people and culture that have been shaped and sustained by it.” says Colleen Kennedy, GMCA Executive Director. “Now visitors of the park have the opportunity and tools to help preserve it on their own time; reducing the impacts plastic pollution has on this world-class destination, the place we call home.”

 

The new Parks Canada shoreline cleanup kits are available at the Shallow Bay campground, Green Point Campground, and the temporary visitor centre (31 Main St North) in Rocky Harbour, NL. The public can also take part in any of the AHOI community beach cleanups happening throughout the Gros Morne region this summer! 


 

For more information, please contact:

 

Tara Howse, Logistics and Communications Coordinator, AHOI

aho.info@gmail.com

(709) 899-2468

 

Ellen Gormley, Public Relations and Communications Officer, Parks Canada 

ellen.gormley@pc.gc.ca 

(709) 458-8627

 

Colleen Kennedy, Executive Director of Gros Morne Co-operating Association
colleen.kennedyyoung@gmail.com

(709) 458-8834

 

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BACKGROUND

 

Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative is a registered non-profit organization formed in 2019. It aims to raise awareness of our changing oceans and facilitate actions to protect them and communities that depend on them most. AHOI works with local businesses, universities, government agencies and others, to create programs that support the health of our oceans, while working towards a more resilient and sustainable blue economy.

 

The partnership agreement, Becoming Plastic Waste Free Gros Morne, focuses on the Gros Morne region in and around the national park, and adjacent communities. The area encompasses a national park – also a UNESCO World Heritage Site - and 8 enclave communities with a combined population of approximately 3000 people. The region hosts roughly 250,000 visitors in a typical tourism season – a more than 8 thousand percent increase in people, from May to September. Along with beach cleanups and audits, the partnership also provides visitors with information on how to reduce their waste and single-use plastic (SUP) while visiting, help them access free, clean drinking water to refill reusable water bottles rather than buying SUP bottles, and makes waste diversion and sorting easier with proposed new signage for Gros Morne National Park. 

 

Previous beach cleanups, and research indicate that the majority of the waste ending up on Gros Morne beaches come from land-based sources in the local area. That means if we want to see a reduction in litter ending up in our environment, we have to make changes as a province and region, in such areas as waste management, education and infrastructure. Becoming Plastic Waste Free Gros Morne is helping to achieve that.

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Photo: Team Up and Clean Up the Shore kits available in Gros Morne National Park, as part of a national Parks Canada pilot project.

 

Inspiring Global Change Through Local Action

 

AHOI’s plastic-reduction efforts lead to the establishment of the newest BlueCommunity - 5th for Canada, first for the Province of NL.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Norris Point, N.L.- Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative (AHOI) is honoured and excited to partner with Plastic Oceans to add the Gros Morne region to its global network of BlueCommunities. It marks the first BlueCommunity for Newfoundland and Labrador, and the fifth in the country. Globally, there are over 30 BlueCommunities. BlueCommunities are recognized for their work to address plastic pollution, sustainability and circularity issues, with local stakeholders driving the efforts. They are also regions where culture and economy are closely tied to the waterways they inhabit.

 

Plastics Oceans Canada invited AHOI and the Gros Morne region to join its ranks because of the work AHOI is doing with the communities to reduce plastic waste and help move the region towards a healthier, more sustainable, circular economy. The BlueCommunities initiative centres on the belief that local actions are the key to accelerating global progress.


“We are thrilled to be part of this global network of non-profit and grassroots organisations that are working towards the same goals we are.” said Rebecca Brushett, AHOI Founder and ED. “Actions taken in small, rural, and remote communities do make a difference, and it’s encouraging to be recognized for what we are doing in our corner of the world. We also appreciate the support, resources, and expertise that Plastic Oceans provides to BlueCommunities as it will help us continue the important work we are doing here.”

 

 

“Today is such an exciting day as we welcome AHOI to our BlueCommunities initiative, representing the Gros Morne region and our very first BlueCommunity in Newfoundland and Labrador! I’ve had the pleasure of living in Rocky Harbour many years ago and know firsthand the immense beauty that surrounds these communities and what makes it such a hotspot for tourists. With increased activity comes a dire need to keep our environment top of mind and to preserve the unique ecosystems that thrive there. We could not be more thrilled to be joining forces with AHOI to continue all the amazing work they’ve been doing.” said Natasha Tucker, Executive Director of Plastic Oceans Canada.

 

The designation comes at an ideal time. AHOI has developed a robust program and body of research through its years-long efforts, but funding for the vast majority of those programs and initiatives ended last month, resulting in fewer resources. Becoming a BlueCommunity enables AHOI to access the advice and wisdom from other communities and collaborate with the Plastic Oceans team of experts. It also allows AHOI to access micro grants to help continue local projects to transition Gros Morne towards a sustainable blue and circular economy.

 

“We have made a lot of progress through our work with local businesses, municipalities and other partners, but there is still a lot left to do,” Brushett explains. “With the momentum we have gained through our previous funding, we look forward to being able to continue some of that work, thanks to this new partnership and the resources that come with it.”

 

If you want to learn more about AHOI, BlueCommunities and the work being done through this initiative, stop by the Hew and Draw Hotel in Corner Brook, NL on April 22, 2022. AHOI will be hosting a pop-up booth there for Earth Day. Also, keep an eye out for more events happening in the coming months.

 

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For more information, please contact:

 

Rebecca Brushett, AHOI Founder 

rbrushett@ecologyaction.ca

(709)691-0485

 

Tara Howse, Logistics and Communications Coordinator, AHOI

ahoi.info@gmail.com

 

Natasha Tucker, Executive Director, Plastic Oceans Foundation Canada

natasha@plasticoceans.ca

902-405-3940

 

Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative is a registered non-profit organization in the Gros Morne region of N.L. Its mission is to build awareness of our changing ocean and facilitate actions to protect it and the people that depend on it most. Looking after the marine biodiversity of our ocean and the coastal communities' way of life together is essential to protecting our environment, building successful stewardship and a sustainable blue economy for generations to come. AHOI has been leading the way towards reducing waste and increasing sustainability in the Gros Morne region of NL through various projects and partnerships with Grenfell Campus - Memorial University, Gros Morne Cooperating Association, Gros Morne National Park, Environment and Climate Change Canada, as well as local businesses, municipalities, and NGOs.

 

Plastic Oceans Canada is a registered Canadian charity whose goal is to end plastic pollution in Canada and foster sustainable communities worldwide. Its mission is to inspire and incite action that leads to changes in consumer behavior, corporate practices, and public policy. Collectively, these changes will lead to a reduction in plastic pollution, regenerative communities, and a healthier planet for many years to come. Plastic Oceans believes that local actions are needed to create change globally, and that it can be done through four key pillars: Education, Activism, Advocacy and Science.

 

BlueCommunities is a Plastic Oceans International initiative that creates a diverse global network of local partners who understand the local culture, economic and environmental dynamics of their communities, and work to solve plastic pollution and other sustainability issues. The initiative centres on the belief that local actions are the building blocks for creating socioeconomic and environmental change that benefits the entire planet, and that positive local changes can accelerate global progress.

 

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AHOI Report Reveals Serious Gaps in Western Newfoundland's Waste Management System

We can't recycle our way out of this mess - big changes needed to end this plastic crisis

Norris Point, NL, March 16, 2022 – A new report by Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative (AHOI) highlights serious gaps in western Newfoundland’s waste management system. The report lists more than two dozen actionable steps that businesses, towns, parks, and key players in the waste management system can take to reduce or eliminate plastic pollution from entering our landfill and environment, including river and ocean systems. 

 

The findings documented in the report called, “Assessing the Waste Management System in the Gros Morne Region” come from research conducted by AHOI’s Plastic Team and Julia Fracassi, a talented intern from the Master of Arts in Environmental Policy program at Grenfell Campus - Memorial University. Fracassi performed an in-depth analysis of the research using a Functional Resonance Analysis Method (FRAM) model, which analyzes the functions of a system and highlights gaps and areas where opportunities for improvement exist.  

 

“Since 2019 we have been conducting coastal clean-up audits and research on plastic pollution and we realized there are still a lot of unknowns, such as ‘what happens to our plastic waste?’ and ‘how effectively is it getting recycled?’ Without these answers we cannot make recommendations regarding the use of plastics because we don’t know how they impact our environment, communities, and other areas of the world, especially once they leave the island.” says Rebecca Brushett, ED of AHOI. 

 

Recycling in the Gros Morne region is relatively new and while it is a method to divert plastic waste, the likelihood of it combating the plastic pollution crisis is limited since only 9% of plastics get recycled and Canada is the world’s second highest user of plastics on a per person basis. As plastic pollution continuously increases, communities are faced with major challenges to reduce their waste generation. AHOI’s report and focus was to identify the gaps and necessary steps needed to eliminate or divert plastic waste out of our landfills and into a more circular system. 

 

AHOI secured funding through the Department of Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Zero Plastic Waste Initiative to help move the Gros Morne region towards a more circular economy. A portion of this project involved AHOI reviewing government reports, conducting jurisdictional scans of comparable waste systems, and connecting with residents, businesses, various waste management authorities, the 7 local municipalities and Gros Morne National Park, to identify target areas of plastic pollution that could be fixed. The robust body of research created a holistic map of the waste management system in the Gros Morne region.  

 

“In order to identify gaps and opportunities for increased waste diversion, we had to look at every aspect of this complex system, from the moment a business or consumer purchases a product to the moment it is recycled or sent to the landfill. Where waste ends up is influenced by many factors.” says AHOI Plastic Program Coordinator, Jackie Bauman.

 

The overall report reveals many gaps in our system including the lack of transparency for end-market use of recyclables, poor compliance by residents and businesses, lack of enforcement against non-compliance and illegal dumping, lack of accountability of waste haulers, as well as disjointed decision-making and poor public outreach.

 

The report goes on to identify solutions to address these gaps and help create a system resilient enough to function despite instances of human error and non-compliance. These recommendations, which can be scaled to the provincial level, include but are not limited to:

  • Install washing stations at waste facilities and where possible, place recycling bins near water sources where plastics can be rinsed to prevent contamination and improve their recyclability. 

  • Install informative signage on trails and high-traffic areas to reduce littering and unnecessary plastic use.

  • Improve education and outreach materials for communities and visitors to the province. 

  • Increase Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs to ensure the producers of plastic packaging are responsible for the waste they create. 

  • Replace single-use plastics with compostable and reusable alternatives in the food service industry and at public events. 

 

Plastic and other mis-managed waste impacts wildlife, poses health risks to communities, and overburdens municipalities with waste fees. If big changes are not made to create a strong waste management system, we will never be able to move towards a sustainable, circular economy and we will continue seeing the impacts our waste has on our communities, environment and ocean that sustains them, for generations to come.

 

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For more information, please contact:

 

Tara Howse, Logistics and Communications Coordinator, AHOI

ahoi.info@gmail.com

(709) 899-2468

 

BACKGROUND

 

AHOI was created in 2019 and is located in Gros Morne, NL. It collaborates with various parties to protect the long-term health of our oceans while promoting innovative ways to grow sustainable coastal communities in western NL. AHOI’s work aligns with the NL government's 2025 target to reduce waste by 50%, and with the Canadian government’s Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste and the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan through landfill emissions reduction.

 

AHOI has several initiatives including but not limited to, a sustainable take-out pilot program that helps businesses replace plastic food ware with compostable or reusable containers; it introduced the Blue W program to the region, helping eliminate single-use water bottles by allowing members of the public to refill their water bottles with safe drinking water for free. It also conducts beach cleanups and waste audits in the region and national park, which helps to identify the types of plastic waste ending up on our shores, its sources, and solutions to combat it.  

 

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Photo: Infographic to show the journey that plastic waste makes from the moment it is discarded. The final destination is not known. This data comes from the research conducted on the waste system in Western Newfoundland. See full report for details.

 

AHOI Dives into Marine Research Program with

New Partnerships and Submersible ROV Technology

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Norris Point, N.L. Monday, March 7, 2022 - Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative (AHOI) is taking its marine conservation work to new heights — or rather, depths. The non-profit organization, known for its plastic-waste reduction work with coastal communities and along beaches, is teaming up with Bonne Bay Marine Station, Grenfell Campus of Memorial University (BBMS) and the Ecology Action Centre (EAC) for its new project, gathering baseline data to enrich a marine network plan for protection and sustainable livelihoods in the Gros Morne region of western, N.L.

 

AHOI will conduct underwater research using a professional drone that can reach a depth of 300 meters and withstand harsh conditions. Using the Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV), AHOI will map out, film, and analyze 15 sites thought to have important marine habitats and species by scientific experts and local fish harvesters. This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada. 

 

“Offering recommendations for increased protection in an area where many communities depend on the ocean for their livelihoods is not something we do lightly,” explains Rebecca Brushett, AHOI founder and Marine Planning and Engagement Coordinator with the EAC. “This new technology will not only allow us to identify important marine species and habitats that may need protection, but it will also inform the marine spatial plan EAC is building with the region. To add to this, we will also have the ability to assess any environmental damage that may need to be addressed.”

 

This project will ground truth areas where certain species and activities have been said to occur, such as aquatic invasive species, rare, sensitive or at-risk species; spawning sites for fish stocks in the critical or cautious zone, historic oil spill or dumping sites; and natural seepage sites, to name a few.

 

“Areas such as Bonne Bay are of critical importance for biodiversity and are likely to be highly sensitive to climate change,” says Professor Duncan McIlroy, Director of the BBMS. “The region lies at a critical position in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where warm waters of the Gulf interact with cold isolated fjord basins such as the Eastern Arm of Bonne Bay. There is an urgent need for marine protection combined with baseline studies and community outreach that AHOI is uniquely placed to provide.”

 

The data collected will feed into a larger body of work as well. EAC, a project partner, is currently working with communities in the Gros Morne region to create a marine spatial plan for the region. The baseline data gathered using the drone will strengthen the plan and help identify ways to have a sustainable blue economy while also conserving areas of the ocean that need it most.

 

“One of the challenges with marine planning is that we often run into knowledge gaps because it is so difficult to study marine species in deep and cold areas. This creates a lot of uncertainty in the planning process,” says Jordy Thomson, Senior Marine Coordinator with the EAC. “Having a research-grade drone to work with will allow us to gather some really amazing information and footage to inform conversations with communities.”  

 

Over the next year, AHOI will conduct research in the coastal and marine management areas throughout Bonne Bay, St. Paul’s Inlet and the coastal regions surrounding the towns of Glenburnie - Birchy Head - Shoal Brook (GBS), Woody Point, Norris Point, Rocky Harbour, Cow Head, St. Paul’s, and Trout River. All 7 municipal councils support this project and AHOI looks forward to showcasing what they find with the public and creating solutions with the region to improve the health of these marine ecosystems.

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For more information, please contact:

 

Rebecca Brushett, AHOI Founder and Marine Planning and Engagement Coordinator, EAC

rbrushett@ecologyaction.ca

(709)691-0485

 

Duncan McIlroy, Director of the Bonne Bay Marine Station
Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland

dmcilroy@mun.ca

 

Jordy Thomson, Senior Marine Coordinator (Ecosystems), Ecology Action Centre

jordy.thomson@ecologyaction.ca

(902)877-9382

 

Tara Howse, Logistics and Communications Coordinator, AHOI

ahoi.info@gmail.com

 

About Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative (AHOI):

Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative is a registered non-profit organization in the Gros Morne region of N.L. Its mission is to build awareness of our changing ocean and facilitate actions to protect it and the people that depend on it most. Looking after the marine biodiversity of our ocean and the coastal communities' way of life together is essential to protecting our environment, building successful stewardship and a sustainable blue economy for generations to come.

 

About Bonne Bay Marine Station (BBMS):

The Bonne Bay Marine Station is a research, teaching and conference venue located in Norris Point, N.L. It is part of the Grenfell Campus - Memorial University and collaborates with researchers and professors from all disciplines interested in teaching and learning in the Gros Morne region. It provides experiential programing and undergraduate courses, as well as field research opportunities. It has a Public Aquarium which operates seasonally and showcases local marine flora and fauna.

 

About Ecology Action Centre (EAC):

The Ecology Action Centre is a member-based environmental charity in Miꞌkmaꞌki (Nova Scotia) taking leadership on critical issues ranging from biodiversity protection to climate change to environmental justice. EAC strives to catalyze change through policy advocacy, community development and acts as a watch-dog for the environment. It takes a holistic approach to the environment and our economy to create a just and sustainable society. 

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Photo: The new Deep Trekker Pivot ROV overlooking the u-shaped fjord of Bonne Bay, N.L-one of the study areas starting Spring 2022. 

Successful Start to

Plastic Waste Reduction in Gros Morne Region

Partners collect over 2 metric tons of garbage and clean nearly 12 km of coastline

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Norris Point, NL, October 18, 2021 - Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative (AHOI) and its partners, Parks Canada (PC) and the Gros Morne Co-operating Association (GMCA) have collected nearly 2200 lbs of waste and cleaned nearly 12,000 m of coastline in the Gros Morne region since beginning their partnership three months ago.

 

The partnership, “Becoming Plastic Waste Free in Gros Morne” encourages better practices and behaviors by the public, improves education and awareness of plastic waste issues, enhances the capacity to clean and audit beaches, and provides a better understanding of plastic pollution found along coastal areas of the region. 

 

AHOI’s Plastic Program Data Coordinators, Emily Walsh and Aaron Hingston – also known as the “AHOI Waste Busters” – were able to put a much larger dent in the amount of waste littering the region.

 

“We’ve collected nearly triple the amount of weight and covered almost five times the distance that we did last year,” said Hingston. “We have found everything from microplastics to a goose decoy to couch cushions.”

 

In three months, Walsh and Hingston conducted 20 quadrant samples in Gros Morne National Park and larger beach cleanups in each of the seven communities adjacent to the park. They had help from staff at AHOI, GMCA and Parks Canada, along with more than 150 community volunteers.

 

“To put it into perspective, the weight of waste we collected is equivalent to two moose, and the amount of rope collected is enough to stretch the length of 411 humpback whales,” added Walsh.

 

“It’s astonishing to see first-hand the amount of waste littering our coastlines,” said GMCA’s Executive Director, Colleen Kennedy, who has participated in the community beach cleanups. “To know this waste is turning up in areas that are protected or surrounded by otherwise pristine landscapes, underscores the importance of our partnership and the work we are doing.”

 

Nearly all the waste found along shores in the region comes from within the Gulf of St. Lawrence. To help reduce the amount of plastic that could end up on the landscape, the partners are developing initiatives to reduce the use of single-use plastics, and divert those used into the appropriate waste streams.

 

AHOI, Parks Canada and GMCA brought the Blue W program to the Gros Morne region, whereby visitors can refill their water bottles with safe drinking water for free, eliminating the need to buy single-use bottles. To date, the partners identified and registered six locations in the national park and seven throughout the communities. The partners are also working on new signage for waste and recycling bins in the region.

 

“Parks Canada protects Canada’s natural and cultural treasures and is proud to work with partners and nearby communities to achieve its goals. Gros Morne National Park is a special place, and its protection is possible with the help of the passion of groups such as the Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative and the Gros Morne Co-operating Association. We are pleased with the results this partnership yielded in year one and look forward to continuing to work together to address waste management issues in the region,” said Ron Hallman, the President & Chief Executive Officer of Parks Canada.

 

While beach cleanups and audits have wrapped up for the season, the partners will continue working together to develop and introduce initiatives that bring the region closer to becoming plastic-waste free.

 

For more information, please contact:

 

Tara Howse, Logistics and Communications Coordinator, AHOI

aho.info@gmail.com

(709) 899-2468

 

Greg Knott, Public Relations and Communications Officer, Parks Canada

gregory.knott@pc.gc.ca
(709) 458-8591

 

Colleen Kennedy, Executive Director of Gros Morne Co-operating Association
colleen.kennedyyoung@gmail.com

(709) 458-8834

 

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Photo: AHOI, Parks Canada, and Gros Morne Cooperating Association staff at the beach in Rocky Harbour, NL.

 

Gros Morne Businesses Lead 

the Way to a Plastic-Free Future

As the region begins to welcome visitors, some businesses are saying good-bye

to single-use plastics used at their operations.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Norris Point, NL, July 27 2021 – Businesses in the Gros Morne Region are turning the tide on plastic pollution and the impact it has on their coastal communities. Through a new pilot project created by Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative (AHOI) and funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada, nearly a dozen businesses that traditionally relied on disposable single-use plastic items for their food services and experiences, have switched to metal, glass, and biodegradable alternatives. This move will have a huge impact as food service is the primary source of single-use plastics that wash up on beaches in the Gros Morne region, and plays a significant role in accommodating roughly 250,000 people that visit in a typical tourism season. 

 

Restaurants offering take-out traditionally rely heavily on single-use plastics such as straws, cutlery, containers, bags, styrofoam, and coffee paraphernalia. The AHOI pilot project encourages businesses to offer a ‘Reuse-Refill’ option; allowing customers to bring their own container to be filled with purchased food and beverages or providing customers with reusable containers that they can return once they are finished with them. When reusables and refillables are not feasible, companies are encouraged to use disposable containers that are truly backyard compostable; will rot without harming the environment. 

 

Gros Morne Outdoor Company is one of three tourism companies embracing the ‘Reuse’ option by packing lunches in metal containers for their picnics, hiking and camping trips. Customers carry their food in reusable containers and return them to the business once they return from their excursion. 

 

“It always feels good when you can lessen the impact on the environment, especially when you own an adventure experience company that showcases the pristine natural experiences Gros Morne National Park has to offer. Reducing our plastics will have a positive effect on our business, community, and environment and is essential as the public becomes more aware of the connections between their actions when traveling and what they support.” Explains Natalie and Steve Wheeler, owners of the Gros Morne Outdoor Company. 

 

Some businesses are implementing a hybrid model in their operations. Gros Morne Farm and Market is testing out some backyard compostable containers, and has already opted for glass mason jars that they refill for weekly veggie subscription boxes. Like the milkman, they deliver, pick up, sterilize, and refill the containers. Not only is it a closed-loop circular system; it also provides fresh, plastic-free produce. 

 

Shallow Bay Motel is one of 10 companies that switched from plastic to 100% compostable take-out containers, through the project. “It's important for us to make the change, to help our area grow in the right way and make it a sustainable place for the future. Also, to set a great example for our kids and grandkids; we always want to try to leave the world a better place for them,” says Steven House at Shallow Bay Motel. “We are very happy to be part of this great thing AHOI is doing and look forward to keeping this partnership and making Gros Morne a sustainable area now and in the future.” 

 

With Canada planning to issue proposed regulations banning or restricting certain single-use plastics this fall, AHOI aims to make this transition away from plastics simple and more convenient at the local level. It also sends the message that it is possible to transition away from unnecessary plastics, even in rural communities. 

 

“Together, we are putting the Gros Morne region ahead of zero plastic waste targets nationally, and globally. Connecting local businesses with real alternatives to plastic shows tangible success from this pilot project! Our committed efforts are bringing people together with sustainable and local values, while making it easy for visitors to mark their destination with a sustainable trip. The changes local businesses are making sets an example for and preparing our region to become a more circular economy!” says Jackie Bauman, Senior Plastics Program Coordinator for AHOI.

 

The project launched in time for the tourist season and is ahead of Canada finalizing its regulations on a single-use plastics ban.

 

 

 

For more information, please contact:

Tara Howse, Logistics and Communications Coordinator, AHOI

ahoi.info@gmail.com

Jackie Bauman, Senior Plastics Program Coordinator, AHOI

ahoi.info@gmail.com

(705) 827-1975

 

BACKGROUND

 

AHOI is one of 14 organizations across Canada to receive funding from ECCC through the Zero Plastic Waste Initiative. This project looks at the life cycle of plastic from the point it is made to the moment we find it discarded. Studies show that approximately 80% of plastic waste that ends up in our ocean comes from land-based sources. 

 

In the Gros Morne Region, most business is driven by tourism, with roughly 250,000 people visiting the national park in a typical year. AHOI works closely with businesses, town councils, other NGOs, and community members to build capacity at the community level, to help them transition away from single-use plastics and make the Gros Morne Region a leader in becoming a more circular economy.

 

The following businesses and municipalities have signed up for the pilot project:

 

Gros Morne Adventures

Gros Morne Farm and Market

Gros Morne Outdoor Company

Old Cottage Hospital

Old Store Café

Out East Adventures

The Merchant Warehouse Retro Café and Wine Bar

The Old Loft

Shallow Bay Motel

Sugar Hill Inn

Taste of Gros Morne

Town of Norris Point

 

Many products claim to be "compostable” or “biodegradable" because they are made with plant-based bioplastics, known as PLA. Take-out containers lined with PLA are only compostable in an industrial composter. Since the region does not have an industrial composter, AHOI searched for compostable take-out containers that are backyard compostable. The most suitable products to date have come from Eco2Bureau based out of Quebec, CA.

 

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Photo: Shallow Bay Motel's reuseable and 100% backyard compostable containers.

Photo: Gros Morne Farm and Market's Refillable containers.

Photo: Three of several businesses making the switch to sustainable alternatives. L-R: Natalie Wheeler, co-owner of Gros Morne Outdoor Co., Ian Stone, co-owner of Taste of Gros Morne, and Kristen Hickey, co-owner of Gros Morne Adventures.

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New Partnership a Huge Step Towards

Reducing Plastic Footprint in Gros Morne Region

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

 

Norris Point, NL, May 25, 2021 - Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative (AHOI) is pleased to announce a new partnership with Parks Canada – Gros Morne National Park and the Gros Morne Cooperating Association (GMCA), to move the region towards zero plastic waste. The 3-year agreement, “Becoming Plastic Waste Free in Gros Morne” aims to lessen the impact of plastic waste in the region, in and around the national park and in adjacent communities.

 

“This is the first time AHOI has partnered with a national park and its cooperating association. We’re very excited to tackle plastic pollution, while also developing strategies to move with the region to create a more circular economy! We want to take a multifaceted approach to this complex problem; and this partnership starts that process. Collectively, we will develop ways to help Gros Morne become more sustainable and show other remote areas across Canada what's possible when you work together!”, says Rebecca Brushett, Executive Director for AHOI.

 

The partnership involves education and outreach initiatives, beach cleanups and audit research, and a regional circular economy strategy.

 

“Parks Canada places are gateways to discovering nature. In Gros Morne National Park, we are excited to work with partners and nearby communities to protect and present Canada’s natural treasures. This new partnership with Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative and the Gros Morne Cooperating Association is an opportunity to work with the broader region to address waste management issues, clean up some of Gros Morne’s coastal areas, and educate the public on reducing the use of plastics,” explains Gudie Hutchings, Member of Parliament for Long Range Mountains.

 

The partnership also promotes sustainable tourism and focuses on reducing waste associated with the tourism industry, to ensure the long-term benefits to the region.

 

“Gros Morne Cooperating Association is pleased to work with these partners to reduce single-use plastics in our region. Living in a region with a protected natural area encourages us as citizens to do our part in looking after our environment and demonstrating it in our behavior. Our association, communities and Parks Canada are working together to ensure we move forward sustainably for the protection of this place we are proud to call home.” remarks Colleen Kennedy, Executive Director for GMCA.

 

The partners are kicking off their partnership with a community beach cleanup and audit during the popular Trails, Tales and Tunes Festival, which attracts locals and tourists alike. The cleanup will take place at Wild Cove Beach in Norris Point, NL from 10am-12pm on Saturday, May 29, 2021, and is registered with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.

 

Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative is a registered non-profit organization formed in 2019, to raise awareness of our changing oceans, and facilitate actions to protect them and communities that depend on them most. AHOI works with local businesses, universities, government agencies and others, to create programs that support the health of our oceans, while working towards a more resilient and sustainable blue economy. To date, AHOI has collected more than 3,000 pounds of plastic waste.

 

The partnership agreement focuses on the Gros Morne region in and around the national park, and adjacent communities. The area encompasses a national park – also a UNESCO World Heritage Site - and 8 enclave communities with a combined population of approximately 3000 people. The region hosts roughly 250,000 visitors in a typical tourism season – a more than 8 thousand percent increase in people, from May to September.

 

 

For more information, please contact:

 

Tara Howse, Logistics and Communications Coordinator, AHOI

aho.info@gmail.com

(709) 899-2468

 

Greg Knott, Public Relations and Communications Officer, Parks Canada

gregory.knott@canada.ca
(709) 458-8591

 

Colleen Kennedy, Executive Director of Gros Morne Co-operating Association
colleen.kennedyyoung@gmail.com

(709) 458-8834

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Photo (L-R): Colleen Kennedy, Executive Director, GMCA;

Parka, Parks Canada; Rebecca Brushett, Executive Director, AHOI.

Wild Cove beach, Norris Point, NL.