SAULT STE. MARIE -- Sault Ste. Marie is looking to help curb the community's plastic usage.

Together with the environmental group Clean North, the city will develop a plan that will both educate the public and help promote a lifestyle that isn't reliant on single-use plastics.

"Households, businesses, schools and community organizations will be challenged to take part in this community pledge," said Susan Hamilton Beach, the city's public works director.

Called the 'Choose to Refuse: Take the Plastic-free Sault Pledge,' Hamilton Beach said the city will provide a checklist that helps participants audit their single-use plastic consumption.

To further incentivize people to take action, their efforts will also be promoted.

"This will hopefully help people … establish their own target, so shoot, hopefully, for gold," she said. "Which would certainly see a significant reduction of single-use plastics."

Get ahead of legislation

The city said the reasoning behind the pledge was to get ahead of expected federal or provincial legislation banning single-use plastics.

In fact, two city councillors raised questions about doing something like this locally in January of last year.

"Considering we're on the shores of the Great Lakes and the St. Marys River, the threat that they are to marine environments and ecosystems, I think it's important that Sault Ste. Marie be a leader," said Coun. Corey Gardi. "I think younger people especially will really take a liking to a program like this, and hopefully help push this forward."

Similar pledges have already been put forward by other municipalities in the country, including Sudbury.

Gardi said he expects federal legislation on single-use plastic bans to be announced at some point in 2021.

Meanwhile, the city said it intends to launch this program on Earth Day on April 22.