Hay River embarked on its annual town cleanup effort last week, attacking waste in the community on multiple fronts.
Curb-side pickup began on May 21, as did a hazardous household materials and e-waste drop-off site in front of the Don Stewart Recreation Centre. In addition, community groups can sign up to clean one of 10 sections of town in exchange for $500 before June 7.
“A few years back, people could pull anything out and we would pick it up at their curb free of charge. That got costly and we saw our landfill getting full, so we made some adjustments,” said Mayor Andrew Cassidy. “Now we’re back to the original model, but with a few changes, and people seem to be happy with it.”
One of the popular aspects of the cleanup program this year was the drop-off point for hazardous waste. According to Hay River public works employee Nick Roberts, who manned the operation, about 50 people dropped off batteries, paint and electronic waste in the first two days alone, May 21 & 22.
“Paint is the most common thing they’re bringing in,” he said. “But lots of people are phoning to ask what else they can drop off.”
The residents who came to dispose of chemicals and electronic devices appreciated the town’s efforts towards making Hay River a cleaner place to live.
“Last year, I had to take everything to the dump myself,” said Floyd Daniels. “The curb-side pickup saves me the headache and bringing some stuff here is easy enough.”
But while most of Hay River was focused on cleaning up existing waste, Ecology North’s Kim Rapati spent her week convincing people to reduce their garbage output by composting. She indicated 40 per cent of all residential waste is organic and can easily be dealt with long before it hits landfills. As of May 22, she had only sold a few backyard composting barrels, but she noted last year’s total topped 70.
“It’s really encouraging to see how many people come out and want to participate in waste reduction,” said Rapati. “Composting is a low-tech solution that people can do in their own homes and backyards that makes a huge impact on the amount of stuff we’re sending to the dump.”
While she commends the town for setting up a system for e-waste – the fastest growing garbage-producing sector in the country – Rapati said she would still like to see more efforts being made to make recycling easier, such as having more collection points around town. Currently, recyclable material must be brought to the Tri R Recycling facility.
“It’s great to see the town being proactive, but we can still do so much more,” Rapati said. “There are really easy things we can do that can help save the world, and I think that’s something to be passionate about. You can feel powerful taking charge of part of the waste chain on an individual and local level.”
— Sarah Ladik