By LeRae Haynes –

Dan the Trash Man in Williams Lake has taken customer service to new heights by adding another green feature to his business. Besides garbage, recycling, glass, and yard debris, he also picks up composting.

Kristy Novakowski from Purple Pansy and Dan the Trash Man talk about compost and recycling. Photo: LeRae Haynes.

Dan Wilkinson worked for the original Trash Man owner starting in 2001 and purchased the business four years ago. His customers are rural residents, people with mobility issues, business owners, and people with busy lives who appreciate being able to leave their garbage and recycling in his capable hands.

“Recycling has become both more mainstream and more regulated,” he says. “When I first took over there wasn’t a lot of focus on recycling, but that has changed.”

When the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) first put its recycling and compost programs in place, community focus—and business for the Trash Man—increased. “I picked up some more customers who realized the importance,” says Wilkinson. “It was a real learning curve for both the CRD and the public, and it’s come a long way.”

Customer service is a priority for Wilkinson. “People appreciate me hauling their garbage, recycling, and yard debris away, giving them one less thing to worry about,” he says. “It’s important to me to do a good job for people. I want them to be happy.”

One customer who deeply appreciates Wilkinson’s dedication and expanded services is Purple Pansy owner Kristy Novakowski, known as the Eco-Chic Florist.

“I’m a small business—only one person—and I get so busy sometimes, I had to find a way to make my life easier,” she says. “When you’re a small business, they say, ‘hire a bookkeeper,’ and ‘hire someone to do deliveries.’ I thought, why not hire someone to help with compost and recycling?”

Compost is a top priority for Novakowski, and a fair amount is generated from her shop: clippings and trimmings and things like spent flowers and evergreen branches.

The Purple Pansy has weekly compost and recycling pickup but has been working on the same small garbage bag since Christmas.

Once a week Dan the Trash Man picks up a large box of compost and all the recycling: glass, cardboard from shipping boxes, and plastic.

Novakowski said she’d heard of the Trash Man years ago and would notice his little garbage can signs. “I phoned and asked if he could compost and he said yes,” she says. “I was so relieved. And he’s so reasonable, honest, and reliable. It’s a relief not just to have it picked up but to have it dealt with responsibly.”

She says she likes supporting the environment and supporting small business at the same time because small businesses need each other. Novakowski counts her delivery person, her bookkeeper, and Dan the Trash Man as part of her team.

“Small businesses are the heart of the community—you definitely feel that you are part of something,” she says. “I feel it’s my responsibility to make the choice to recycle and to compost. Plus, I have children. We need to show them good choices and good practices, and not how to contribute to climate change.”

Running a business and caring for the environment are not mutually exclusive, she adds. “Protecting the environment is simply a responsibility we have as business owners and as human beings on the Earth.”

Dan the Trash Man covers the Williams Lake area, including outlying areas like Deep Creek, by the Fraser River on Highway 20, Pigeon Road near 150 Mile House, and Spokin Lake.

He can be reached seven days a week and hauls Monday to Friday. You can reach him at (250) 302-8114 and on Facebook at Dan the Trash Man and Love Williams Lake.

LeRae Haynes is a freelance writer, song writer, member of Perfect Match dance band, and instigator of lots of music with kids.


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