PORT AUX BASQUES, N.L. – It’s not hard to make small changes in our own lives that will have big benefits on the environment.
The Conservation Corps of Newfoundland and Labrador (CCNL), in partnership with the Town of Channel-Port aux Basques set up a table at a downtown grocery store on Friday, July 27, to educate residents on the Western Regional Waste Management (WRWM) recycling program slated to roll out in September. The day before the team had done the same thing at a grocery store in the mall.
David Cullen is a third-year member of the Green Team and serves as team leader. Along with three others, the group tackles conservation and environmental issues through various community projects and education programs.
“In some places they’re doing stream and river restoration; tagging and basic species and stuff like that,” said Cullen. “The Port aux Basques Green Team… our main focus, the title of our project is Community Ambassadors.
“It’s mainly educating the public about climate change and we do a lot of stuff with the summer sports kids, like activities with them to teach them about climate change and the oceans, and we also go around and clean up garbage.”
As part of the educational waste management roll out, the Green Team was handing out reusable shopping bags stamped with the town logo, as well as a blue bag, a clear bag and a list of what waste items go in each bag.
“Basically, the town wanted us to do our research and figure out everything about it, and now we’re here trying to educate the public about it so that it’s not so much of a shock to everybody when the time comes,” said Cullen, who has found the public’s reception to be largely positive.
The two days of face to face question and answer about waste management with the Green Team has helped clear up some confusion for people, particularly for the town’s senior population.
Cullen pointed out that in Nova Scotia, for example, blue bags recyclables are broken down by type, with items such as tin cans sorted separately from cardboard. That won’t be required for the southwest coast, and composting food scraps won’t be necessary either, though it is encouraged.
“I guess people figured it was going to be like Nova Scotia or Ontario,” said Cullen. “A lot of people thought that they had to sort all their garbage and they would have to do mandatory composting, but we don’t actually have to do mandatory composting and food scraps can just go into the clear bag, which is your garbage, and everything that is recyclable goes all together into the one blue bag.”
The Green Team is happy to see the new waste management program coming online.
“I’ve definitely been wanting something like this to happen for a long time,” said Cullen. “The garbage dump up there is just awful and before this system came in, the way that we’re currently doing things, I almost feel like it would be better to throw things on the ground in town because then it’s actually there for people to see and get enraged about rather than taking it and hiding it in the woods, which is what we’re doing.”
Although Cullen hopes to see even more recycling initiatives in the future, he does believe even this small change is a great introductory step for the town when it comes to dealing with garbage.
“A lot of people don’t want to have to do all the separating and this, I feel like, is the simplest way that we can still do recycling without having to sort everything. This is the closest thing to what we’re doing now,” notes Cullen. “Instead of just throwing it all in one black bag you just throw it in blue or clear.”
Besides the Waste Management information roll out, the Green Team is also keeping busy with other projects, particularly on the cultural side.
“We’re building a Lego Man for Astrolabe Days,” said first-year Green Team member Damian Lambert. He cites the amount of litter around town as one of his bigger pet peeves.
Jadian Hibbs agrees, especially when it comes to drivers lobbing trash out of their vehicle windows.
“We’d really like that to stop.”
Hibbs would also like to see homeowners choose to compost, particularly those with gardens.
“If more people started doing that, it would add back to our soil.”