From supermarket to shoreline: Chantal’s fight against plastic waste

November 22, 2023

A photo of a blue reusable shopping basket with the maxi logo on the side sitting on sand outside.

Every day for the past seven years, Chantal Veilleux has visited the Lac des Soeurs in her hometown of Val-D’Or. “I like to go walking there with my dogs,” says the assistant manager of the city’s Maxi supermarket. But this past summer, she started to notice that the lake and trail that encircles it started filling up with trash.She had approached her municipality and the local police for help but received no response. So, when Chantal got the email from Montreal-based colleague Karine Mondor about participating in the Ocean Wise Shoreline Cleanup program, an initiative from the conservation organization to clean up pollutants and plastic waste in our waters sponsored by Loblaw, she jumped at the chance.  

It came together rather quickly: Chantal signed her lake up with Ocean Wise, attended a short training and recruited people to her team, including eight of her store colleagues. The local municipality provided her crew with garbage bins, recycling containers and washing stations, and six divers from the Tomlin Dive Shop in Val D’or volunteered to help collect trash from the bottom of the lake.  

“We found a couch, a mattress, gasoline containers, tires, a lot of old clothes… we were really shocked,” says Chantal. “It was quite sad to see the area in such a state; it’s really a beautiful spot,” she adds.   

As a presenting sponsor of the Ocean Wise Shoreline Cleanup since 2021, Loblaw invites stores across the country to participate in the initiative. So far this year, 17 have heeded the call this year, and around 100 Loblaw Companies team members have registered for cleanups, collecting approximately 573 lbs of litter and counting.  

The company’s involvement with Ocean Wise is part of its ongoing effort to fight climate change and biodiversity loss by funding research to address microplastics, redesigning packaging to support a more circular economy, and spreading awareness on the importance of recycling and more responsible plastic use.  

“I put up ads that came with the kit from Ocean Wise and spoke about it to everyone at the store. I was really happy to have eight of my colleagues participate but I would have been glad to even have one — as long as I was able to raise some awareness of the issue,” Chantal explains. “It was a really rewarding experience and has really inspired me to do more to help my community.”