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Documentary exploring plastic pollution in Lake Ontario begins in Kingston

Shoreline, a 45 minute documentary by A Greener Future, aims to bring awareness to plastic pollution in Lake Ontario. An advanced virtual screening will also act as a fundraiser to allow A Greener Future to continue their clean-up efforts along the lake’s shoreline, including here in Kingston.

The documentary showcases Rochelle Byrne, founder of A Greener Future, and her story, and highlights the intersection of recreation and environmental stewardship, according to a release from A Greener Future dated Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. Shoreline, the paddle against plastic, follows Byrne as she paddles the edge of Lake Ontario and brings awareness to lake pollution from plastics, and how it’s affecting our water systems.

During the summer of 2020, Byrne embarked on the 430 km stand up paddleboard journey along the Lake Ontario shoreline from Kingston to Niagara-on-the-Lake. She spent 92 hours over 18 days bringing awareness to the impact just one person can make with enough determination.

Rochelle Byrne with her paddleboard. Image courtesy of A Greener Future.

A Greener Future also helps communities become good stewards of the environment. Since 2014, A Greener Future has picked up more than 1.6 million pieces of litter through their main campaign, Love Your Lake. The volunteers travel along the northern shore of Lake Ontario each year, encouraging residents to join them in picking up litter at local events.

“In 2020 the pandemic caused the cancellation of all public cleanup events, so instead, we came up with a different way to make an impact,” said Byrne. “While I paddled, the rest of the crew completed independent litter cleanups. In total, 41,992 pieces of litter were removed from the shores.”

Image courtesy of A Greener Future.

Byrne says she finds Kingston a very welcoming place to launch, or end, A Greener Future’s environmental campaigns. “We choose Kingston as a beginning/endpoint for our events because it’s the last big stop before going into the St. Lawrence River. We see this spot as the natural ‘end’ of the Lake,” Byrne shared in an email to Kingstonist. “Kingston has been such a wonderful community to work in, we have partnered with local groups and businesses, as well as with Lake Ontario Waterkeeper & Swim, Drink, Fish, which have their roots in Kingston via Mark Mattson.”

Byrne says she has been in and around the Kingston area her entire life. “It’s really nice to end (or start) a project in a community that is so lively and supportive. My grandma lives just north of the City so it’s nice to be able to have a visit with her when I’m in the area. My mom grew up in Harrowsmith, so I’ve been coming to the Kingston area regularly since I was born.”

A Greener Future will be hosting a virtual advanced screening of the film along with a Q&A on Thursday, April 1, 2021. All funds raised will go towards cleanup efforts along the shores of Lake Ontario.

Watch the trailer for Shoreline on A Greener Future’s website, and purchase tickets for the virtual advanced screening by donation. All funds raised will support A Greener Future’s cleanup programs along the shores of Lake Ontario.

Plastics collected from the shores of Lake Ontario. Image courtesy of A Greener Future.

“Our goal is to raise $10,000 through ticket sales to support litter cleanup efforts in 2021, but also to raise awareness about the plastic pollution crisis that is taking place in Lake Ontario,” Byrne said.

“I want to feel surprised to see garbage in the lake,” she continued. “I want to be able to go to a lake that’s clean and healthy, one that I’m not afraid of swimming in.”

Moving Forward

“While we had to cancel all of A Greener Future’s 2020 cleanups, we are confident we will be able to go forward with our 2021 events,” Byrne said. “Through a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, we were able to upgrade our volunteer program, which included some volunteer management software.”

Byrne said volunteers will need to register this year through their volunteer portal. This will allow A Greener Future to limit the number of individuals at events, following local municipal guidelines for outdoor gatherings. ”The software allows us to communicate with volunteers before events so we can ensure everyone will be following safety guidelines and have PPE,” she said.

“We will have Love Your Lake cleanup events taking place in the Kingston area at the end of June. The postings will go up in our volunteer portal in April. Volunteers must have a profile set up to participate.”

A Greener Future reports they have picked up 30,577 pieces of litter in Kingston since 2014.

Rose and Emma Foley, with Rochelle Byrne, at a Love Your Lake event at Lake Ontario Park in Aug. 2018. Photo by Jessica Foley.

Kingstonist writer Jessica Foley has participated in Love Your Lake cleanups here in Kingston with her daughters. Read about their experience on her website.

ABOUT A GREENER FUTURE

Founded in 2014, A Greener Future is a non-profit organization whose mission is to work within local communities to promote environmental protection through organized litter cleanups, educational programs, and events. A Greener Future is committed to creating a clean, healthy environment for future generations.

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