Celebrate Earth Week by joining York University’s Plastic Pick-up Challenge

Nicole Arsenault
Nicole Arsenault

As Earth Week approaches, Nicole Arsenault, program director, Sustainability, has partnered with Mark Terry, filmmaker, researcher, contract faculty member and a York Sustainability Champion, to challenge the University community to take part in The Plastic Pick-Up Challenge, an official Earth Day event.

Historically, York University has held a campus clean-up for Earth Day, however, since most community members are learning and working remotely due to the pandemic’s public health restrictions, Arsenault and Terry are urging everyone can get outside in their local community to participate in this challenge.

Mark Terry
Mark Terry

During Earth Week, April 16 to 23, the Plastic Pick-up Challenge offers a meaningful  program to help perform a spring clean-up on our planet. The challenge contributes to the following UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

  • SDG 12 – Sustainable consumption and production,
  • SDG 14 – Life below Water (Protection of the seas and oceans),
  • SDG 15 – Life on Land (Restore ecosystems and preserve diversity).

Are you up for the challenge?

Here are the rules:

  1. Get a clear plastic bag and hit the parks, the hiking trails, the beaches,  anywhere you can maintain physical distancing safely, and fill your bag with all the discarded plastic bottles and packaging you can find. Don’t forget to wear waterproof gloves.
  2. When your bag is full, make a video or take a picture of it and post it on your social media networks with this message: “I, (first and last name), accepted York University’s Plastic Pick-up Challenge during Earth Week 2021 and this is what I collected. I now challenge (a friend’s name) to do the same. Fill a clear plastic bag with all the discarded plastic you can find outside and post a video or a picture of your full bag. You have 48 hours. Good luck!”
  3. Dispose your collected plastic in a recycling bin or at a recycling centre near you.

After you’ve completed your plastic pick-up challenge, post your pictures, videos and challenges on your own social media and tag York University’s social media. Use the hashtags #PlasticPickupChallenge, #YUEarthWeek and #EarthDay on all your posts.

Alternatively, you can send pictures by email to sustainability@yorku.ca.

Mark Terry kicks off the Plastic Pick-up challenge with his own bag of recyclable plastics that he picked up at the Keele campus
Mark Terry kicks off the Plastic Pick-up challenge with his own bag of recyclable plastics that he picked up at the Keele campus

At the end of Earth Week, your photographs will be posted in a mosaic that will be shared on social media and on York University’s Earth Week website.

This challenge is a good way to exercise and connect with nature which improves our mental health and sense of well-being.  As a reminder, all participants are required to follow these public health restrictions:

  • cleanup as an individual or up to five (5) people from the same household,
  • wear a mask,
  • follow physical distancing guidelines (keep two metres apart),
  • wear protective gloves, and
  • wash your hands and/or utilize hand sanitizer before and after the plastic pick-up.

To learn more, contact project lead, Mark Terry, associate to the UNESCO Chair of Reorienting Education towards Sustainability, by email to terrma@yorku.ca, or Nicole Nicole Arsenault, program director, Sustainability, at sustainability@yorku.ca.

A listing of social media accounts

York Sustainability:

Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change:

York University’s UNESCO Chair for Reorienting Educations towards Sustainability:

York University:

Dahdeleh Institute for Global Health Research