By Mary Forbes, Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society –

While attempting to recycle have you ever thought…

“Why should I recycle when my neighbour doesn’t even bother?”
“What’s the point? My impact is tiny compared to a giant corporation.”
“It’s too late to recycle – the problems facing our species are greater than where I put my waste.”
Whoa! Let’s get back on track, Calamity Train!

Beth and Ava Veenkamp were two of more than 20 volunteers that picked up a total of 50 kgs of litter in downtown Williams Lake on Earth Day. Photo: Vanessa Moberg
Beth and Ava Veenkamp were two of more than 20 volunteers that picked up a total of 50 kgs of litter in downtown Williams Lake on Earth Day. Photo: Vanessa Moberg

In many Canadian jurisdictions, recycling is now the law, where noncompliance is punishable by fine. Here, we still have the benefit of choice, but that doesn’t make it any easier. So how do we seamlessly incorporate recycling into our everyday lives, making it as automatic as wearing a seatbelt?

Think about it like this. You are making a gourmet meal and you have some products from your garden, speciality items from meat market, organic pasta from your online food buying co-operative, raw salt from the health food store, garnish from the farmers’ market, plates from the local potters, fine locally woven linen napkins, and even beeswax candles. The works. You have put so much thought and effort into the procurement and preparation, not to mention the consumption bliss, but what about the disposal of all the packaging once the meal is done? That’s the part that will affect your grandchildren.

The recycling process should begin at the purchase point. Ask yourself: do I need this product? Was it sustainably manufactured or was it resource intensive? Is the packaging recyclable? And when I’m done with this product, can it live on in a new home?

Now that summer is finally here, remember that memory is tied to smell, and the best time to make new habits is when a great scent can cue you. Try to combine the smell of the hot pine trees with recycling to help create that positive habit.

In addition to being pleasant, recycling should be easy and take minimal time out of your daily life. At what point in your day do you say, “sheesh… I wish I had more to do. I just can’t seem to fill the day.” The opposite is the norm. So, recycling shouldn’t mean you spend less time playing with your dog, or volunteering with your kids’ hockey team, or cutting back on your favourite hobby. That’s where WASTE BUSTERS can help.

Perhaps you’ve been wanting to incorporate recycling into your daily routine, but need help setting up a system that works for you. Or maybe you have a family hoarder with a barn full of who-knows-what and we-might-need-it-laters including buckets of used oil, random bags of old clothes, and years worth of general pack-rattery. WASTE BUSTERS is a recycling coaching service available at no cost to you. We also provide compost coaching.

Our team can help you design a household recycling system, offer logistical solutions, and even tell you exactly what can be recycled, where, and how. For instance, use the “thumbs up” test to see if your plastic bag is recyclable—if you can stretch the bag with your thumb, it’s recyclable. All individual yogurt containers are recyclable, but did you know the foil lids – if they can fold and stay folded – are recyclable too? Mind… blown.

So, the next time you’re cleaning out your woodshed, when that dark corner of mysterious stuff threatens to overwhelm, who you gonna call? WASTE BUSTERS! To set up a Waste Wise coaching session with Mary Forbes or Oliver Berger, call the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society at (250) 398-7929. What if it’s just a quick question? Text Mary or, better yet, send a photo to her cell at (250) 855-8443. You can also call the Recycling Hotline at 1-800-667-4321, or to receive GPS directions to your nearest recycling destination, download the Recycling Council of BC’s free app: “Recyclepedia”.

If you’d prefer to speak to us in person, look for us and our famous Recycle Trailer at Canada Day, the Four Directions Festival, The Car Show, Children’s Festival, Arts Wells, Arts on the Fly, and many other community events. Our Earth Day litter pick was a great success—community volunteers picked up 50 kilograms of garbage, but only a small portion of the litter went to the landfill. Using our mobile recycling unit, we sorted and diverted most of the garbage into compost, containers, paper, and other recyclable materials. Our thanks to everyone who came out.

Now take a deep breath, smell the pine trees, and when you are ready to learn how to make home recycling easy, efficient, and second-nature, call WASTE BUSTERS. Over the years, we have discovered that individual waste diversion efforts add up. One dedicated Cariboo-Chilcotin family of four can divert a pick-up truck box full of recyclable products every year. That’s a lot! Every bit helps and we’re here to help you do those bits with a bigger picture in mind.

The Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society is a not for profit organization working with local municipalities providing inspiring and accurate environmental educational services for the community and classrooms in our region. For a detailed history, visit our website at or our Facebook page.

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