Students! I have a question for you: On your way to school, how many pieces of plastic litter do you see scattered on the streets? Plastic water bottles, cigarette butts, coffee cups – the list is endless.

Do you want to help solve this problem and be a voice for our environment? Then this is for you! Environmental Defence’s Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) Canada program has launched its annual eco-journalism competition for youth. We’re excited to announce that this year’s theme is: Your Solution to Plastic Pollution.



For the competition, we’re asking Canadian youth (ages 11-14 and 15-18) to investigate solutions to plastic pollution in their communities and share their findings through photography, videography, or writing. And we have lots of resources, including handbooks and videos, on our website to help you craft your next big environmental story. The deadline for this year’s competition is March 31, 2017.

Winners will be published by Alternatives Journal magazine and first place winners in each category will compete in the International Young Reporters for the Environment Competition, run by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). Last year, two Canadian entries received second and third place internationally in their respective categories.



Plastic pollution is the fastest growing problem on the planet. In the Great Lakes alone, a staggering 80 per cent of litter is made up of plastic that doesn’t decompose. Contributing to this problem are:

  • Plastic beverage bottles: Canadians buy an estimated 2.4 billion litres of bottled water every year. Less than half of the plastic bottles sold in Ontario find their way to recycling bins. The rest – an estimated one billion plastic bottles each year – end up in landfills or the environment. (Read our Turning the Plastic Tide report to learn more)
  • Microbeads: these tiny plastic beads are added as exfoliants to products such as body wash. Millions of them are going down our drains and are ending up in our waterways, where they’re being ingested by fish and other wildlife.
  • And more – food packaging, plastic cutlery, plastic bags, Styrofoam, etc.

So, grab your cameras and notebooks and start exploring. You could be Canada’s next green journalist!



And teachers – you can also get involved with YRE.

YRE Canada is more than just a competition. It can also be used as a teaching tool in your classroom. The program helps students to develop their communication, presentation, team work, critical thinking and leadership skills, while giving them a deeper understanding about environmental issues and social responsibility. It complements a number of elementary and high school course curriculums, including:

  • Geography
  • Environmental Studies
  • English and Writer’s Craft
  • Science
  • Art or Media Studies

Visit for free classroom tools and resources and to learn more about our national eco-journalism competition for youth. Also, don’t hesitate to contact us at to further discuss how YRE can be incorporated into your classroom to help increase knowledge and leadership amongst your students.