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Musquodoboit Harbour seniors say supplements are overpackaged

Harbour Lites Seniors’ Club hopes to bring concerns to the provincial government

2 min read
caption These supplements, and the plastic bottle they come in, were part of what inspired the Harbour Lites' Seniors Club to take action against overpackaging.
Isabel Ruitenbeek

A few weeks ago, Edyth Shuman brought a bottle of halibut liver oil capsules to a meeting of the Harbour Lites Seniors’ Club in Musquodoboit Harbour. Together, they counted the “wee little” capsules: 180 in a 300 ml plastic bottle.

“It’s just neglectful,” said Shuman, who is president of the club.

The group decided the packaging was excessive, and wants to do something about it.

Overpackaging is part of “Canada’s plastic pollution problem,” according to Environmental Defence, a Canadian environmental organization. A recent report by the group found that Canada recycles only 11 per cent of its plastic waste. The rest ends up in oceans, the bellies of animals and even tap water.

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Harbour Lites will soon circulate a petition to gather support for the overpackaging issue, specifically around supplements. In May, they’re planning on bringing a resolution to the annual meeting of the Federation of Senior Citizens and Pensioners of Nova Scotia.

Federation of Senior Citizens

The federation is a non-profit organization that advocates for seniors in Nova Scotia. It represents 12 councils and 130 affiliated clubs across the province, and is a member of an advisory committee to the Nova Scotia Department of Seniors.

Judy Schultz, the federation’s second vice-president, said environmental issues, from clear cutting forests to overpackaging, occasionally come up at meetings.

“They come up periodically, like anything that piques the interest of the majority of people at the time,” she said.

At each annual meeting, three resolutions are chosen to be passed to the provincial government. Schultz believes the resolutions have an impact, citing the federation’s participation in the fight against Pharmacare cost increases as an example.

‘Try and help’

Just under 20 per cent of Nova Scotia’s population is over 65, according to 2016 data from Statistics Canada. The province’s Action Plan for an Aging Population predicts that by 2030, more than one in four Nova Scotians will be 65 and over.

Schultz said there’s a negative perception seniors are out of touch with social issues.

“Ageism is alive and well,” she said. “Once your hair turns grey, you’re not supposed to know what you’re doing.”

Harbour Lites Seniors’ Club is fighting that stereotype. Out of the club’s 65 members, one member is 100, but most range in age from their late 60s to early 80s.

The club, formed in 1977, spends most of its time fundraising and planning social events. This will be their first time putting forth a resolution at a federation meeting.

Shuman said plastics use on today’s scale didn’t exist when she was young, as the material didn’t take off until the 1950s. Since then, global plastic production has increased from 2 million tonnes in 1950 to 380 million tonnes in 2015, according to the Environmental Defence report.

“It’s hard to blame this generation that I’m in, but we would like to try and help,” Shuman said.

If the resolution doesn’t go anywhere following the federation’s meeting, Shuman plans on taking the issue to her local MP.

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