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Richmond teacher hopes creative tote bags can replace single-use plastics

The top three winners will be given a chance to see their final work painted on thousands of tote bags.
A Richmond artist launched a tote bag competition for secondary school students to reduce single-use plastics.

A Richmond artist is organizing a tote bag design contest for secondary school students to reduce the use of single-use plastics in the city. 

“Hopefully, this event will add some colour to this long, dark winter,” said Liyuan Liu, who has been teaching painting to students from her Richmond’s art studio for more than ten years. 

The competition theme is “Using art to express your care for the planet” and welcomes students Grades 8 to 12 to use their paintbrushes, coloured crayons, and other materials to unleash their creativity while raising awareness about environmental protection. 

The top three winners could see their final work painted on thousands of tote bags, which will be given out to community members, said Liu.  

“There are many residents who are still unaware that the plastic straws and bags won’t be allowed at Richmond businesses next year. So I think it’s important to bring up this message again,” she added. 

The Richmond News earlier reported that foam food containers, plastic straws and plastic grocery bags will be banned in Richmond as of March 27, 2022. 

The ban applies to all businesses operating in Richmond and is in line with similar bylaws in other communities, as well as provincial and federal regulations that are in the works, according to the city.

While Lee’s students are well aware of the bylaw, more awareness is needed in the larger community, according to Liu.

 “The contest isn’t a one-time solution to the environmental issues we have, but we are happy to see more young people willing to step up to make a change,” said Liu. 

The competition is open now and runs until Jan. 5, 2022. Participants can email their designs to [email protected].

With files from Kirsten Clarke