Meet Obabika, Obabika is a not for profit creative and digital marketing studio, catering specifically to grassroots environmental groups. Sometimes, they also run campaigns, such as Treat Our Salish Sea.
From the Rainbow Warrior days of Greenpeace, to the current day protests demanding equality and racial justice - grassroots activists are responsible for some of the most important changes in our world. However, these same organizations are almost never met with the proper funding, time, and resources to effectively communicate.
"That’s where we come in" - Obabika was born out of a frustration with the system ‘grassroots activism’. How can the most important work force on our planet (for our planet) be so handicapped? They offer pro bono creative and digital marketing services to these organizations to help them meet their full potential, and they can focus on bettering our planet.
They also assist and collaborate with organizations to execute campaigns that they don’t have the bandwidth on their own. Currently, partnering with Georgia Strait Alliance to advocate for higher level waste water treatment in Metro Vancouver - Treat Our Salish Sea
A note on Treat Our Salish Sea, written by Livvy Brown:
“The Pacific Northwest: a world of lush rainforests, vast wilderness and pristine waters. Right?
For the most part that statement rings true, but there are some major issues lurking beneath the surface... Did you know that Vancouver, B.C.’s largest wastewater treatment plant - Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant - discharges 207 billion litres of under-treated wastewater into the Salish Sea, every year? That is two hundred and seven billion litres of micro plastic filled, pharmaceutical - laden, toxic - loaded water, being pushed out to the Salish Sea and Puget Sound.
Built in 1963, the Iona plant is shockingly outdated. Offering only primary water treatment, the plant filters wastewater to the lowest possible level - filtering out not much more than solids bigger than the cap of a water bottle. Around 50% of contaminants continue out of the plant to pollute the fragile waters of the Salish Sea. It’s the filtering equivalent of chicken wire, allowing 50% of the microplastics, pharmaceutical byproducts, small debris and contaminants to pass straight out into the sea. This pollution enters the sea via a 7km outflow pipe off Iona Beach, directly into the habitat for endangered Southern Resident Orcas, and wild pacific salmon. Shocked? So were we. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
The Iona Island Plant has been upgraded six times since opening to deal with the ever-growing population of Vancouver. The next upgrade is on the horizon - and we think it’s time for a big one.
You see - wastewater treatment plants can be pretty efficient. Forget the chicken wire; the technology exists to filter the water until it’s so clean you might just drink it (though we wouldn’t recommend that…). This level of tertiary treatment would remove not just large debris, but a significant proportion of microplastics, waterborne toxins such as nitrogen and phosphorus, viruses, pharmaceutical byproducts and more.
Currently, decision makers are tossing up between upgrading the Iona Island Plant to a tertiary treatment facility, or a less-comprehensive secondary treatment option. Whilst either would be an improvement on the current state of affairs, one treatment level would ignore some of the most harmful pollutants - PCBs, DDT, PFOS, PFOA, copper, phthalates, bisphenols, and current-use pesticides, from household and industrial sources - and the other would create an outflow of nearly drinkable water.
So what can we do?
The first and most important step is to make our voices heard. Head over to our friends at Obabika.org to sign a letter to urge the Metro Vancouver Liquid Waste Committee to commit to upgrade the Iona Island Plant to a tertiary treatment facility.
On a personal level, we can all make an impact as consumers. Small steps can make a big impact. Choose to say no to single-use plastics and disposable items which end up washing into wastewater streams. Carry reusable water bottles, coffee cups and tote bags. Shop mindfully with brands which put the health of the planet and its people first. If we work together - and hold decision makers to account - we can protect the places we love to live and play. And those beautiful Pacific Northwest waters can stay pristine for generations to come.