Shoreline: The Paddle Against Plastic

Shoreline: The Paddle Against Plastic

In July 2020, in the wake of COVID-19 and social distancing and lockdowns, Rochelle Byrne, the founder and executive director of A Greener Future embarked on a solo 430km standup-paddle across Lake Ontario to raise awareness of plastic pollution in the lakes. Her amazing journey was documented into the film Shoreline which is having an exclusive advanced screening on Thursday, April 1st at 7PM EST. The film’s screening will also be followed by a Q&A with Rochelle. All part of A Greener Future’s Stand Up For Lake OntarioA Greener Future is a not-for-profit organization that was founded by Rochelle in 2014 after she organized a shoreline cleanup in her own community and realized how ineffective one clean-up a year was to combat this problem. “Before A Greener Future, I would consider myself an average person and not an environmentalist. But after picking up so much garbage, I realized that some of the things I was picking up were some of the things I had used in my life. These things could be mine and I started to wonder what can I do to prevent this from happening? I started going more to the zero-waste movement and reducing waste any way I could”.

A Greener Future Documentary

“We hear a lot about plastic in the oceans. But a lot of people don’t know that plastic pollution is a problem in the lakes too. And that’s part of the problem, because if you don’t know there’s a problem—how can you fix it?”

From that the Love Your Lake program was born which coordinates 100 shoreline clean-ups between Nigara-on-the-Lake and Kingston every spring. A sense of community and education is at the centre of their movement and they know it is crucial for the success of combating plastic pollution. “It’s really important that people can come join in, and feel a part of something and meet like-minded people and also feel they are accepted for taking this first step. Because a lot of people want to care for the environment, they just don’t know what to do. Coming to a clean-up shows them the problem first hand and they can feel good about helping their community, but it's also a pathway to learning more. To learn more about the environment, and learn what they can do as an individual, and that’s basically what happened to me”. Since its inception they have picked up over 1.6 million pieces of litter on the shorelines of our lakes.

A Greener Future Documentary

But when the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020 all the clean up programs for “Love Your Lake” had to be cancelled for the foreseeable future. With the growing use of PPE and other increases of plastic use in the forms of takeout containers and shipping supplies, this message was as timely as ever. “Before the pandemic I had never picked up a mask in my life during a litter clean up. I had found a few gloves in the past but now I find them all the time. Now I feel this coming spring we are going to find a huge amount”. In lieu of large crowds and shoreline cleanups, a solo endurance challenge on the lake was dreamt up. Having only been on a paddleboard seven times prior to her paddle, and a goal to clock 30 km a day, her journey was met with downpours, waves, solitude, surprising camaraderie with other paddling communities around the lake and +41,000 pieces of litter. 

Shoreline Environmental Documentary

Shoreline is a film about resilience, environmental advocacy and the importance of community in order to protect the things we love. Especially in our own “backyard”.

Currently in talks with various distribution platforms, this screening may be your only opportunity to see this very unique Great Lake film. Tickets can be found here.


Words by Linzee Barclay.


Linzee Barclay Writer Portrait

Linzee is a Toronto-based actor and writer who has appeared on stage, television, and film. A great lake surfer she first learned to surf in Nova Scotia before moving to Indonesia and Australia. An advocate for outdoor adventures, storytelling, and building community, she can usually be found at our Surf the Greats shop or out on the lakes and rivers of Southern Ontario.