By Oliver Berger –

Literally it seems that way lately: we have no time left to waste. With all the plastic pollution confronting our society, our unnecessary packaging, and our one-time-use items, we are beginning to be surrounded by our leftovers. Frankly, it is overwhelming. However, to be honest I have been waiting for this. As humans we usually only really react to serious problems when we really need to. It is that time.

Tyler has a role in the community processing business documents through the WLACL WORKS paper shredding program. Photo: WLACL WORKS

This issue I want to bring to light is a dedicated group helping our community in a particularly special way. Do you remember when there was someone working at our local Share Shed every day of the week?

There were usually two people, one was a person with a mental or physical disability or illness, also referred to as the worker. The other was their job coach or supervisor or patiently-kind work partner, whichever term you prefer to use. It was the Williams Lake Association for Community Living (WLACL). Together they kept the Share Shed organized. Items were neatly displayed, recyclables were sorted out, and it was functioning as a beautiful circle of incoming and outgoing items.

What happened?

WLACL restructured their philosophies on integrating workers into the community and the Share Shed was consuming a lot of their resources. They had to move along. It was an unfortunate loss; however, with every closed door, another opens.

Since then, the WLACL has been building a very successful recycling business right here in Williams Lake. Working together with local businesses that are looking to get rid of their recyclable waste properly, the WLACL has filled a void with confidential shredding. It is part of a program called WLACL WORKS.

The team of two, one coach and one worker, do rounds around the lake city collecting business documents destined for disposal. Box by box, they go head-to-head with the shredder and get to work. They fill big reusable fabric bags with this valuable shredded paper and then deliver it to the transfer station for proper recycling.

“The employees are fully bonded and are good at their job,” said Tammy Fisher, program co-ordinator at WLACL.

Along with collecting all that unwanted shredded paper they have absorbed other tasks as well.

They have a contract with the Cariboo Regional District to collect all the refundable beverage containers from local and outlying transfer stations as well as from the businesses they service. The money collected from this waste stream helps fund part of their program. If the businesses have more than just shredded paper or pop cans, they will also assist in the removal of excess cardboard or any additional items that can be recycled.

The workers are very knowledgeable of our local recycling programs, as they have been an active part of it for many years now. From sorting recyclables at the old facility in North End Industrial Park and the time spent at the Share Shed, they have more sorting experience than I do.

Their brochure reads: ‘This program is designed to support adults affected with intellectual disabilities to succeed as independent workers. Along with the additional income, having a rewarding job reduces loneliness and increases social networks, community awareness, and self esteem.’

“It’s a great program,” said Fisher. “The community gets to meet and interact with the people we work with. They do real work and make real money.”

I would seriously consider WLACL for your commercial recycling needs. They are local, they are reliable, and they support more than just our global cause for bettering our waste stream. They also give people with life challenges who might not necessarily fit into the regular job system a sense of purpose. Is that not what we all really strive for in life, simply a sense of purpose?

Oliver has a 35-year degree in life, starting out in the Spokin Lake area, spending adolescence in Williams Lake, and then venturing throughout the world on a quest of always learning new things. His priorities include dedication to and education about waste management.