TORONTO - Elephants figure prominently in a new community outreach program launched this year by the Environment and Plastics Institute of Canada. EPIC chose the theme ``What do elephants have to do with plastic?'' for its road tour targeting more than 100 schools, and libraries and shopping malls across Canada. EPIC is spending about C$200,000 (US$147,000) on the National Elephant Tour. The cost is peanuts if it meets its target of educating tens of thousands of students, teachers and the public on the benefits of plastics.
``Plastic was first invented in 1860 as a substitute for ivory billiard balls and piano keys and helped to save the lives of thousands of elephants,'' Sandra Birkenmayer, president of the Mississauga, Ontario, association, said in a news release.
``It's the first time our 35 member companies have participated together in an educational community-based initiative like this,'' she said.
EPIC's members include resin producers, processors and distributors who help out when the tour reaches their communities.
Danielle D'Agostino, the tour's spokeswoman, and another person who dresses up as Peanut the Elephant during presentations, started their road tour in March in Ontario. When contacted by cellular phone on April 16, they were in the prairie province of Saskatchewan heading west. After reaching British Columbia, they are scheduled to turn their Ford Econoline van around to reach East Coast schools before the summer break begins in mid-June. A separate, French-speaking crew soon will tour Quebec.
D'Agostino said the tour is sparking lots of local media and public interest. It includes in-school presentations, recycling displays, and games such as a basketball backboard with a recycling ``Blue Box'' acting as the net.