B.C. town sets an environmental standard we should all follow

Mia Gordon
B.C. town sets an environmental standard we should all follow
B.C. town sets an environmental standard we should all follow

Tofino, British Columbia, is a small district on Vancouver Island. It is home to around 2,000 permanent residents, but despite its small size, it actually has a large business community. In fact, around 400 local businesses call Tofino home.

These businesses rely heavily on tourism. Around 600,000 visitors flock to Tofino from around the world each year. The reason it is such a popular spot has to do with the beautiful nature that encompasses the region. It is home to untouched ancient rainforests and endless ocean shorelines.

Because so much of the business in Tofino relies on the ocean, some businesses are doing what they can to protect it -- and they have really made a splash when it comes to the plastic problem both on a small and large scale.

Back in 2017, a not-for-profit organization called Surfrider Foundation started a campaign called Ocean Friendly Business. Each year, they add 15 businesses that have run their business in a way that protects the ocean.

Right now there are 30 businesses on that list, and that number will increase to 45 in 2020. Businesses make the list by transforming their current operations to eliminate single-use plastics, implement progressive recycling practices, and increase sustainable initiatives.

Some of the highlights of the campaign include:

  • All surf shops have implemented wetsuit recycling

  • All businesses recycle cigarette butts through the Hold Onto Your Butt Campaign

  • Every business has eliminated some form of single-use plastic (ex. toothpicks, plastic-wrapped candies, clothing packaging)

The biggest accomplishment though might be the success of their "Straws Suck" campaign. With the help of business, government, organizations, and locals, Tofino became the first town in Canada to eliminate the use of plastic straws.

The next goal for Surfrider and the businesses of Tofino is to continue to reduce single-use plastic through their recently launched campaign called "Cut the Cutlery and Forget the Foam" where they are working together to eliminate the use of plastic forks and styrofoam food containers.

While Surfrider and the community continue to work together to be more ocean-friendly, it seems new businesses that are popping up around Tofino definitely have the well-being of the environment in mind.

One of the newest stores to open their doors is called Frankly, a refill store located in downtown Tofino.

The concept of a refill store is someone can bring in a reusable container or buy one in store and fill up on everyday household items.

Frankly's shelves are filled with everything from shampoo to spices, to makeup. According to owner Madison Greyson, shopping at a refill store like this helps keep 12 plastic containers off the shelves at a grocery store daily.

She is hoping these ocean-friendly initiatives will take-off, and inspire other businesses around the world to take similar action.

Lilly Woodbury of Surfrider Foundation says that running a business and trying to be ocean-friendly in such a small town has its challenges. They have to deal with everything from a smaller waste management system to struggles with importing bulk items. However, she says that if the business, government, community, and organizations like Surfrider continue to work together they can make a difference.