Maple Ridge teen a WE Day presenter

Won an innovation award for ideas about reusable fast food containers

Jaden Dyer will continue working on her plan to have reusable containers and cutlery in the fast food industry. (Contributed)

Jaden Dyer will continue working on her plan to have reusable containers and cutlery in the fast food industry. (Contributed)

Jaden Dyer waited in line with actor Martin Sheen to go on stage at WE Day, and then talked to the crowd about the apocalypse of garbage from by fast food containers.

The Maple Ridge teen environmentalist was chosen to share her ideas about reusable fast food containers with the WE Day Vancouver. In a province-wide competition, it was Dyer’s ideas that won her a WE Innovate award, and the right to speak to the crowd of 20,000 teens who packed Rogers Arena for the event on Oct. 18.

Dyer said the occasion, speaking in front of a packed forum, wasn’t nerve wracking. She’s a former elementary school public speaking champ, and the people at WE Day are an enlightened and supportive group.

“Everyone who attends there is really encouraging,” she said.

“It was very inspiring. I loved being able to be on stage, and that I got to share my idea.”

She met some child stars in Jacob Tremblay, famous for his role in the movie Room, and Lonnie Chavis of the NBC series This is Us. She was inspired by both her conversations with and the presentation by Olympian Silken Laumann, and by her own hometown Olympic hero Karina LeBlanc.

“They were all really great.”

Dyer’s speech was about the number of single-use food serving items in the fast-foot sector, with the worst offender being coffee cups.

“It makes up a tonne of our waste,” she said

Dyer advocates for reusable cups, plates and cutlery, which could be universal to fast food restaurants. Her plan would be for restaurants to charge customers a return deposit, which would be refundable at any participating fast food outlet.

Many stores want branding or contest materials on their cups, but she has a potential solution for that – if it is absolutely necessary, cover the cup in a biodegradable wrap.

Her ideas resonate with the City of Vancouver, which has a single use reduction strategy.

Living in Maple Ridge, Dyer appreciates the beauty of the natural world.

“All my life, I’ve been passionate about protecting the environment.”

She said there are Green Grants available to fund the promotion of an idea like hers, and the 17-ear-old Thomas Haney Grade 12 will be applying.

“A lot of people have said it’s good idea,” she said. “It’s possible to do it, but will corporations be willing to make that change?”