A scene from the documentary film RiverBlue shows garbage pollution around a waterway. (Image/RiverBlue)

Community Earth Day offers small steps for helping environment

Film RiverBlue illustrates environmental damage of fashion industry – and steps to help

Nestled amidst fertile soil, shimmering lakes and rivers, lush forests and stunning peaks, it’s safe to say that Agassiz and Harrison residents benefit enormously from the Earth’s bounty.

Locals can give back this Earth Day by educating themselves at the Agassiz United Church, where organizers have prepared a viewing of RiverBlue, a documentary that follows international river conservationist Mark Angulo as he explores the harmful impacts of one of the world’s most pollutive industries – fashion.

While most B.C. residents enjoy clear streams, fresh air and safe swimming and drinking water, ‘River Blue’ is a reminder that some parts of Canadian life come at a cost to other parts of the planet.

But local Earth Day Film Festival organizer Debbie Hansen – who is also an organizer for Agassiz’s Social Justice Film Festival – said the film isn’t just about the negative environmental impacts of fashion – it’s also about solutions.

“The movie was really designed for two reasons. One was to show the terrible pollution that is occurring in the river ways and waterways all over the planet Earth, but the second part of it was that individuals have choices that they can make on a daily basis that can increase the health of the planet,” she said.

“I think that sometimes people can feel powerless – like there’s so many things going wrong and they have no control over it. I think showing people positive changes they can make in their lives can have an effect. And even though they think it might be a small effect because they’re only one individual, collectively that becomes a larger effect.”

While the film is about an international issue, Hansen said organizers want to acknowledge Canadian water issues too.

She said this year’s festival will include more static displays than it has in the past, including displays from the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation, the WaterWealth Project, the Council of Canadians, Fraser Valley Water Conservation Coalition, Watershed Coalition and Earthwise Agassiz.

Agassiz Library supervisor Terrill Scott is also curating DVDs and books for attendees to take out if they want to learn more after watching the film.

Hansen emphasized that the local Earth Day event is not about feeling guilty or helpless. It’s about making changes.

“We’re not trying to slap people’s hands or shake our finger at them, we’re trying to say, ‘make conscious choices,’” she said. “[There] are little simple things that we can all do through the course of the day that don’t make us have to change our lives significantly but can change the world…like choosing to carry a bag with you when you jog and picking up garbage, choosing to do the shoreline cleanup, or choosing to use a paper straw or no straw instead of a plastic straw…”

The Agassiz Earth Day celebration and viewing of RiverBlue is April 22 at 7 p.m. at the Agassiz United Church. Admission is by donation and refreshments are provided.

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