The East Coast Trail is an outdoor hiking trail stretching 540KM across the Eastern coast, with sections spanning Fort Amherst to Cappahayden and St. John’s to Trepassey. With 19 routes fully constructed, the Trail showcases the natural beauty of the island’s shoreline…with one exception.
The East Coast Trail’s Plastic Forest isn’t exactly Eastern Newfoundland’s most lovely spot. Located on Sugarloaf Mountain, it’s a place where discarded plastic bags are making it difficult to see the forest for the trees.
Darlene Scott, a member of the Board of Directors for the East Coast Hiking Trail Association (ECHTA), is fully aware of the state of Sugarloaf Path.
“The really interesting thing about Sugarloaf path is that it’s built below the municipal landfill, or dump,” Scott explains. “Free plastic and pretty much everything that goes into the landfill floats around this area, but doesn’t escape. There are currently no restrictions or levies on plastic bags in St. John’s, so we try to embrace the issue and raise awareness to the public so they may say no to plastic bags.”
For Scott, the Plastic Forest represents the irresponsible treatment of plastic by the public.
“This isn’t just a problem for hikers, or the city of St. John’s, it’s a problem for the whole province,” he says. “We live in a throw-away society and we’re putting plastic in the environment at a rate of millions of bags each year. In Canada alone, we use 10 to 15 billion plastic bags annually… and one bag takes about 1,000 years to biodegrade.”
ECHTA encourages the responsible use of plastic by promoting the reuse and recycling of plastic bags and the use of plastic alternatives when shopping, like paper bags and reusable, fabric shopping bags.
Ms. Scott and the ECHTA crew have partnered with The City of St. John’s to offer a series of hikes dedicated to the plastic bag clean-up of Sugarloaf Path on Saturday, September 13, 20 and 27, 9:00AM – 12:00PM. Volunteers will have their names entered in a draw for two Lenny Kravitz tickets at Mile One in October. Anybody interested may sign up by calling 738-HIKE (4453).
— Sydney Blackmore
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