Hannah Friesen from Warren, MB decided to tackle the issue of the impact that disposable menstrual products are having on our environment. How could she get people to change the products they use? It’s difficult to sway people from what they are used to, so she came up with the idea to add environmentally friendly period products into her school’s Health program. Cloth pads, leak-proof underwear, biodegradable tampons, and menstrual cups were added to a kit that teachers can use to educate their students on these eco-friendly options before they get used to the more harmful disposable ones.
“I want people to know that there are other options that would help our environment and keep our watershed and landfills free of the pollution from these products.”
Tess from West Kildonan Collegiate in Winnipeg, MB was so passionate about reducing the use of plastic straws in our environment, that she distributed 1000 reusable straws to her classmates! She created educational presentations to deliver to classes at her school about negative effects of plastic straws, and had students post on social media with their new metal straws.
“Our entire planet is suffering, and it is time to stand up and do something about it. You can make a difference, you can be the change, you can use a metal straw.”
Ahmed, Colton, Gene, & Dorian are students from Carman, MB who wanted to take action on air pollution in their community. They thought that if there were more bike racks in their town, it might encourage more people to ride their bikes instead of driving. To start, they had a new bike rack installed at their school, and they plan to encourage students to have walk or bike-to-school days.
“Our project is on air pollution, and our goal is to make more bike stands so more people will walk and bike to reduce air pollution.”
When a pair of middle-school students from Edmonton, Alberta learned about the troubles with water quality facing their local watershed, they knew now was the time to take charge. Anny Singh & Chrisle Petierre thoughtfully researched what steps they could take to help improve water quality, and stumbled upon some facts about the impacts of soap and detergents on water quality that just didn’t sit right with them.
After some research, Anny and Chrisle learned about alternative car washes that use phosphate free soaps to reduce their impact, and wondered how they could do the same. Instead of a car wash soap, the pair has opted to partner with Lakehouse Natural Soap Company to create a hand soap free of phosphates. Their project, titled Rub-a-Dub-Dub, took a unique and innovative approach to a challenging water quality problem.
In order to reduce the amount of phosphates entering the watershed the pair set out to create a product with a passionate message. Not only do these phosphate-free, locally made soaps smell and look great, but they are a great reminder to be mindful of what goes down the drain every time you suds up! This idea came at just the right time, when because of COVID-19 every one was washing their hands more often, this project got people thinking about what they could do to keep their wastewater clean and improve their watershed.
Soren Skaret and Dana Sych, grade 12 students from central-Alberta, took a long, hard look around their hometown of Hay Lakes and realized that things could be a lot cleaner with just a little help! After researching and learning more about the impacts of litter and waste in the Battle River Watershed where they live, the pair knew it was time to take action!
Dana and Soren showed perseverance in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and were able to adapt their plans for a coordinated group spring cleanup to a social media campaign and contest to encourage local families to get outside and pick up trash. Using a boosted Facebook ad the event was promoted to over 2500 local residents, with a dozen taking the lead in the community and participating in the litter pick.
To sweeten the deal, the pair included a prize pack for one lucky clean-up participant. The winner was drawn and received a package filled with Caring for our Watersheds swag! Hay Lakes is looking better already, and with more clean-ups like Soren and Dana’s we’re on track for a healthier watershed for years to come!
A woman by the name of Margaret Fuller once said “if you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it,” and this sentiment is exactly what inspired the Vegerville Composite High School’s Environmental Club to spring to action when they realized some green spaces on campus were being underutilized.
After taking inspiration from other high schools across Alberta that utilize school-community gardens for student education, Ava, Hailey, Ryan, and Aaron took charge on creating a plan to transform an existing campus courtyard area into a space to enjoy nature and grow food. Not only do the upgrades include ground work; with the combined funding from the Caring For Our Watersheds contest and other sponsors, the club is excited to start construction on an atrium to enclose the area to allow students to enjoy it over the cold Alberta winters!
Not only will the space be a beautiful reminder to take pause and enjoy the watershed we live in, but the addition of a garden will provide agricultural learning opportunities for students- valuable skills for a sustainable future. The Vegerville Composite High School Environmental Club has truly demonstrated how they care for their watershed with this long-term project that will allow students to discover and connect to the natural world for years to come.
Ava and Allynah are students at École Leila North Community School in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They wanted to reduce the amount of disposable plastics ending up in our watershed, so they came up with a plan to distribute reusable sandwich containers to students at their school.
“Many people throw items away not thinking of the damage it can lead to. Because of that, there is more pollution and it is not only harming us, but animals as well. If you look around, you will always see garbage on the ground, no matter where you are.”
They did presentations to each class to educate their fellow students while handing out the containers. The school’s canteen partnered with the girls to help promote the use of their containers and to offer a discount on drinks if students brought their own bottles to fill.
After learning about issues related to urban storm water runoff, Suad Abdan and Elizabeth Meads spent time researching ways to address this concern is their local watershed. They learned that a well-placed rain garden can serve to help “slow the flow” of runoff, to help water infiltrate into the soil and recharge groundwater, as well as provide habitat and food for insects and wildlife. They also liked the idea of creating something aesthetically pleasing that had so many environmental benefits.
Suad and Elizabeth spent time during the winter surveying their campus for an appropriate location for a rain garden. They chose a low spot where water seemed to drain to from the campus right before the water would flow onto the road and into the storm drain.
They chose a variety of plants that develop deep root systems, were able to tolerate seasonal inundation with water, but also survive dry periods. While their garden was relatively small, both girls learned a lot about the design and process of installing these rain gardens and how they can serve as tools to reduce storm water runoff.
Their demonstration project will be a learning tool for the garden class at George Washington Carver High School, who will monitor the garden to see how it is performing after the plants have established and grown over the next year. Caring for Our Watersheds funds help purchase plants and mulch for the garden.
River City High School student Sonya Shifrin has a passion for the environment and the arts. For her Caring for Our Watersheds project, she chose to combine her artistic talents and her enthusiasm for natural resource stewardship to create a watershed-themed book for children.
Sonya, who was a finalist in the 2018 Caring for Our Watersheds competition, created watercolor illustrations for each page of her book, which introduces watershed concepts and encourages students to care for their local watershed with examples of what they can do in their daily lives to make a difference. With funding from Nutrien, Sonya was able to print copies of her book and donate them to each of the elementary school libraries in the Washington Unified School District.