Ontario Launches New Youth Environment Council

The Ontario Government is creating the new Ontario Youth Environment Council, to provide young Ontarians in grades 9 to 12 with more opportunities to share their insights and ideas on climate change and other key environmental issues impacting the province’s future.

“As the youngest environment minister in Ontario's history I am excited to launch this new youth environment council to ensure our next generation are at the table in helping find solutions to some of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time such as climate change and conservation,” said David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “As the leaders of tomorrow, we want to work together with youth as we look for ways to protect our environment, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change.”

Along with the new Youth Environment Council, the Ontario Government is encouraging safe cleanups in Barrie and Innisfil to help keep our province clean, healthy, and beautiful. On Waste-Free Wednesdays throughout the summer, the province is encouraging Ontarians to get outside and clean up litter in their local communities, while following public health measures.

A Waste-Free Wednesday cleanup event took place this afternoon at Lover’s Creek in Barrie with many people lending a hand to help make a difference in the community. Among those supporting were many eager young individuals, local youth group “I Love Lake Simcoe”, Paul Grenier of GLAD and Earth Rangers. Ontario’s newly appointed Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks- David Piccini and MPP for Barrie-Innisfil Andrea Khanjin joined in on the cleanup and afterwards announced how youth could sign up for the Ontario Youth Environment Council.

“The average Ontarian generates one tonne of waste every year – much of this making its way to our waterways and greenspaces, harming wildlife and impacting human health,” said Andrea Khanjin, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and MPP for Barrie-Innisfil. “What does end up in our landfills contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why it’s so important we all do our part to reduce waste and help keep our province clean, healthy and beautiful to ensure that our future generations to come can enjoy a prosperous environment.”

“The environmental choices we make today will have a profound impact on our children’s future, which is why they deserve a seat at the table” said Tovah Barocas, President of Earth Rangers. “Providing youth with the opportunity to express their concerns and ideas directly to the Minister and get a better understanding of the inner workings of government and how decisions are made is a powerful experience and wonderful opportunity. I look forward to seeing what the outcomes of the new Ontario Youth Environment Council will be”.

“The Earth is our home, Barrie is our home, Lake Simcoe is our home” said Zoe Bystrov- 13-year-old Founder of youth group I Love Lake Simcoe. “And we need to do as much as we can to help protect and preserve it for our generation, and future ones to come.”

Building on the success of the Day of Action on Litter, the event is a weekly reminder of the importance of keeping our greenspaces and waterways clean and litter free, and the role we all play in maintaining a cleaner, healthier Ontario now and for future generations.

There are actions you can take to reduce waste and keep recyclables, food, and organics out of our landfills right at home, including:

• Using reusable storage containers instead of single-use food wraps.

• Donating gently used clothes, toys, and household items instead of throwing them away.

• Planning meals in advance and only buying what you need.

• Knowing what items are accepted in your local green bin and blue box.

• Making sure garbage bags are properly tied or sealed so litter is contained.

• Join a local cleanup group or start your own Waste Free Wednesday!

If participating in a cleanup, remember to follow health and safety guidelines, including measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as physical distancing and wearing a mask when in a group of people who are not in your household. Contact the office of MPP Andrea Khanjin for information and resources to help you organize a safe cleanup.

Share pictures of your Waste-Free Wednesday Cleanups and other actions using the #WasteFreeWednesday and #actONLitter hashtags.


• Every 1,000 tonnes of waste diverted from landfill generates 7 full time jobs in Ontario.

• Almost every plastic item manufactured since the 1950s is still in our environment.

• About $31 billion worth of food is wasted annually in Canada and Ontario households generate an estimated 1.4 million tonnes of food and organic waste per year.

• 95 per cent of clothing sent to landfills could have been donated or recycled.

• Making a can from recycled aluminum uses 95 per cent less energy.


• Visit the act on litter webpage for more information on ways you can prevent, reduce, and divert waste.

• For information and resources to help you organize a litter cleanup use our litter cleanup guide.

• Use our litter cleanup reporting form to tell us what you collected during your cleanup.

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