I consider the many issues and challenges our society has as a whole. In the Lower Mainland, we grapple with many complex and diverse issues such as affordable housing, a diverse economy, saving agricultural land, saving industrial land, homelessness – the list goes on.
My life for the last 23 years has focused on the world of recycling and waste diversion, or “regional sustainability” in the grander scheme. I am certainly very proud of what our company does and proud of the diversion results and sustainability goals we have helped our clients achieve. 23 years ago recycling and waste diversion was not a popular subject of conversation, it was in fact was fairly radical. I was very aware that my passion and focus on diverting resources from landfill led many to wonder, “what exactly can this naïve, idealistic women achieve, focused on our garbage?”
Some of my goals regarding recycling and waste diversion are personal: I am the child of two immigrants who to this day will pack their lunch for a midday excursion – the thought of going to a restaurant would be preposterous! Their thriftiness influenced me tremendously.
Over the years (yikes it has been more than two decades!) it is not just my goals that have guided me or Urban Impact, it is the countless customers whose loading docks, receiving areas and recycling rooms I have visited. I am always struck by how many people are actually excited by recycling, sustainability and green efforts in general at their place of business. Many are truly excited about making a real, tangible difference and sending less garbage to landfill.
When you consider all the initiatives that we could pursue to “green” our lives, recycling really is a very easy and simple step. In the words of Rod Muir, Waste Diversion and Sustainability Campaigner, Sierra Club Canada, “it is the simple action of flicking the wrist” in the direction of the recycling blue box not the garbage bin. This very simple decision is a first step, and an important step to a more sustainable personal or corporate life.
I have seen many other initiatives to “green” businesses including promoting sustainable methods of commuting to work, sustainable and green purchasing, changes to industrial processes to reduce water and energy consumption, diligent reporting, the list goes on. I strongly believe that the choosing to be green (especially by recycling!) has many positive ripple effects in other parts of our personal, social and corporate lives, in the same way that giving to worthy charities or volunteering does. The act of being more sensitive to and engaged in these issue, I believe creates a better citizen in our complex world.
My belief is the simple act of recycling has so many positive outcomes – social, environmental and economic – that it is an important first step to a kinder, gentler and cleaner world. I know that recycling is not going to be the centre of everyone’s universe as it is mine, don’t worry, I am flexible enough to consider that there might be other important causes! But, I do think that as a society making thoughtful, considered choices with garbage or better yet, not creating it in the first place, will have many other important social implications that will make our region and our cities, gentler, kinder places to live and flourish.