Climate concerns have sparked a new initiative called Sustain Niagara, created by two Niagara-on-the-Lake locals – they plan to kickstart the group by competing over who can collect the most trash.
Daniel Turner and Brent Campagnola have been meeting monthly since October with the aim of bringing the community together on sustainability.
Turner said they both wanted to connect with the community while also making a difference.
The competition will pin the two go-getters against each other in a friendly rivalry of collecting garbage in public areas around town for the entire month of March. He said they will each use the same size plastic bags and they will take pictures and post their garbage collecting progress via the website, (sustainniagara.ca) Facebook page and Instagram account.
“People can follow along and watch our progress. And we encourage anyone that wants to join us to take part as well,” Turner said.
Aside from having fun cleaning up the neighbourhood, Sustain Niagara was created to offer leadership to local businesses in the area of sustainability, Turner said.
“We will work with businesses to help them reach sustainability targets,” he said. “We’re focusing on bringing attention to anything businesses have done to improve sustainability.”
Turner said they will begin actively promoting local businesses that have been able to show a commitment to sustainability.
“The goal isn’t to punish businesses that aren’t making a change, but to draw attention to those that are able to demonstrate their contributions,” he said.
“We want to bring positivity to them, to be able to celebrate these people who are putting in that effort. And hopefully this will bring more business to them, and more people will begin to take notice.”
He said they have already started working with local entrepreneurs who are practicing more eco-conscious ways of doing business.
He said Steve Irwin, owner of Vino Velo on Niagara Stone Road, has been providing bikes for local businesses to complete deliveries.
“He’s been keeping track of the amount of fuel saved,” Turner said, adding that it is a concrete way Irwin has shown that he’s committed to making a positive change for the environment.
Turner said the launch of their new initiative has come at an “interesting time,” with the recent declaration of a climate emergency by town council on Monday.
“That's a great start. But there's still that disconnect about what we can do to make a difference at home.”
He says he hopes that this group will help to bring awareness to better sustainable practices.
“We're pretty optimistic so far, we've had a lot of positive feedback about the competition. We're excited to see what the turnout will be,” Turner said.
If anyone wants to join on their first cleanup day for the competition, he said they will meet at the gazebo at Queen's Royal Park by 10 a.m. on Sunday, March 1.