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Ambassadors Make Complex Recycling Easy
Ambassadors Make Complex Recycling Easy
December 7, 2015
When Kim Burns’s husband PJ embarked on his master’s degree in environmental education, the couple started learning all kinds of things about what is happening to our planet and the ecosystem.
And as they learned, Kim said, “I started feeling like I wanted to do something to make a difference.”
So she started collecting recyclables from residents within her Murrayville housing complex. And as she collected, Kim said, she was shocked by the volume of returnables that accumulated.
“That was one week’s worth,” she said, pointing to a box full of dead batteries and a mound of plastic bags. “It surprised me – and that’s why I do what I do.”
What Kim does is volunteer with the Township of Langley’s Recycling Ambassador Program, an initiative for residents in multi-family complexes who want to increase recycling, reduce waste, and have an impact on where they live. Volunteers are provided with a training workshop, educational materials, posters and promotional items, along with ongoing assistance and support from Township staff.
For their part, Ambassadors educate and inspire their neighbours to recycle and take that extra step to keep items out of the landfill and the environment.
“We recycled and used our Blue Box before, but we never thought about it any more than that,” said Kim. But when she learned how toxic waste from discarded batteries can leach into the ground, she wanted to do more. So she went to the Township’s website, found out about the Ambassador Program at tol.ca/ambassador, and signed up in the summer of 2014.
Now the Burnses are committed to ensuring as many people as possible in their complex recycle as many items as they can.
“In a multi-plex, you are responsible for so much more (waste production) than in a single family home,” said Kim, noting her Orangewood Country Homes complex has 111 units. It didn’t take much for everyone in those units to get on board. The Strata Council voted to support the program, collection bins were set up in the clubhouse, and Kim and PJ now take carloads of lightbulbs, plastic bags, and batteries to the recycling depot once or twice a week.
It is a task they don’t mind doing at all: “I feel good about it,” said Kim, who has helped residents recycle their electronics and taken unwanted items and re-used them around the complex where possible.
She noted that the secret to running a successful recycling initiative is to make collection easy and accessible, and have a rotation of people volunteering to help. “People want to recycle but working people are busy and seniors are not always mobile,” she said. But once a collection point is established and people get into the habit, “It’s not that hard.”
“It’s working very well,” said Orangewood Strata President Hermine Benson, who credits Kim and PJ’s infectious enthusiasm and the helpful information provided by Township of Langley Solid Waste Coordinator Krista Daniszewski with getting everyone to join in.
“I thought our recycling efforts were a drop in the bucket until I saw this,” said Kim, again referring to the heap of bags and batteries. “This is from one complex in one week. We want to inspire other places to do this. I want them to care. I want them to get involved. There is only so much room for garbage, and everything we do has an effect on the environment. The little things you do – like recycling – make a difference.”
It is easier than ever to keep items out of the landfill, Daniszewski noted, as recycling depots are accepting more items, such as Styrofoam, and many depots accept electronics and small appliances. To find out where to take items, visit http://recyclinginbc.ca/mmbc-depots/, call the recycling hotline at 604.RECYCLE or visit rcbc.ca.
To become a Township of Langley Recycling Ambassador or to learn more, visit tol.ca/ambassador or call the Engineering Division at 604.532.7300.
A little advice from Township of Langley Solid Waste Coordinator Krista Daniszewski (third from left) has turned Orangewood residents (left to right) Georgina Blair, Eleanor Thomas, Pru Sharp, Kim Burns, Bev Rodrigo, and Hermine Benson into dedicated and effective Recycling Ambassadors.
For more information, contact Solid Waste Coordinator Krista Daniszewski at 604.533.6090 x2208 or firstname.lastname@example.org