Celebration of qathet's Waste Education Program: Every month when it comes time to research my Let’s Talk Trash column, I ask Mark if there’s anything important I should consider. This month he requested I write about the Let’s Talk Trash team that has so far trained, advised and informed him in his job as the Lasqueti Island Waste Manager.
In 2011, Let’s Talk Trash (LTT) formed in response to a request for proposals from the qathet Regional District (qRD) for a solid waste education program. They were contracted by the qRD and guided by their mission to “develop and implement an innovative education and awareness program on waste reduction strategies that would guide the community toward zero waste.” With this lofty and long term goal in mind, they began their good work.
They are Abby McLennan, Tai Uhlmann and Ingalisa Burns. Each one of these powerhouse women brings their own gifts to the team. Abby, a co-founding member, is Mark’s go-to person when he has any question about waste and transport logistics - if she doesn’t have the answer in her head, she’ll find it. Tai has set up tire round-up events and infrastructure like the used oil collection system at the depot and uses her background in film to make awesome videos about recycling and waste reduction. Ingalisa writes a weekly Let’s Talk Trash column for the Powell River Peak and other local publications, does public outreach, coordinates workshops and is the regular editor of this Lasqueti LTT column. Collectively, LTT has produced over one hundred informative podcasts, winning an award in the process.
In the twelve years this awesome group of women have been operating, they have created numerous educational resources including a zero waste guide for event planners and food vendors, zero waste sorting stations available for public use, a community dish supply and portable dishwasher for local events, conducted numerous waste audits, offered recycling training to depot staff and have worked in the background to increase diversion opportunities throughout the regional district.
Through their work with the qathet Regional District, they created a Compost Education Center which offers the public a way to experience and better understand different methods of back yard composting and they engage with local composting experts to provide free composting workshops. Let’s Talk Trash was integral in establishing a free self-haul compost pilot program and worked with the City of Powell River to launch their curbside compost pilot project serving over 400 homes.
Wood smoke reduction and ocean debris clean-ups have been organized and promoted in community programs and events. The qathet region saw Canada’s first dedicated recycling depot for plastic marine debris installed in 2020. The Ocean Plastic depot was built to provide a designated location for select marine debris to be properly contained, sorted and stored for recycling through the Ocean Legacy Foundation. School waste audits have been facilitated and analyzed and reports on best practices provided to schools. LTT also works with schools and individual classes to offer tours of waste management facilities for elementary and high school students.
These are the folks that have done waste composition studies (audits) by rolling up their sleeves, donning gloves and masks and sorting through truckloads of trash to find out what people in the qRD are throwing out and how they can help reduce what goes to landfill. They consult with businesses on waste reduction strategies, present as guest speakers and facilitate workshops. They are also the ones who assist in training staff at qRD recycling depots (including Lasqueti).
The LTT team is more motivated toward finding ways to eliminate waste rather than simply managing it. This is evident when looking at the plans for the coming Resource Recovery Center (RRC) and Transfer Station which they’ve helped to envision. Recently, the qRD received a one million dollar grant to focus on diversion infrastructure. On the site of Powell River’s old waste incinerator, the RRC will be a facility that helps divert materials from the waste stream to local uses by artists, builders and others that want resources like wood waste, glass, rubble, fabrics, building supplies, etc. This is a big and beautiful dream of a community hub on reclaimed land, built on the three pillars of sustainability - the environment, the economy and community.
Recently the Recycling Council of BC recognized Let’s Talk Trash for the work they do to educate the public about solid waste reductions and solutions. They were given a well-deserved award for excellence and leadership in environmental stewardship.
Both Waste Manager Mark and I are deeply grateful for their kindness, vision, knowledge and willingness to do the work they do. Check out their website http://letstalktrash.ca for a deeper dive into what they do.
Island Trash Removal: The 2nd Wednesday of every month is the trash removal day at False Bay barge ramp. October 11, 2023 is the next scheduled date. 10:00 am until the barge is full. Any changes due to weather will be posted on the email list and FB Lasqueti Hotwire. Please call Mark if you have any questions. 8601 or 250 240 9886
Recycling Depot: Fall/Winter Hours Oct 1st-Mar 30th
Mon 10 am – 2 pm, Thursdays 1 pm - 5 pm
Closed on Statutory Holidays. All recycling is monitored. Please bring it CLEAN and DRY.
Free Store: Fall/Winter Hours Oct 1st - Mar 30th
Monday 10 am – 2 pm and Thursday 1 pm - 5 pm
Please respect the signs. Drop donations during open hours so they can be quarantined. Outstanding items only, i.e. clean, usable clothing and household items. Please, NO food, garbage, recycling, TV’s, soft foam, batteries, electrical devices, mattresses or hazardous materials, ie: chemicals, fluorescent light tubes, prescription/non-prescription drugs, or pills in general. There are recycling programs on Vancouver Island for many of these materials.
Recycle BC Website: www.recyclebc.ca/what-can-i-recycle
Return-It Beverage Depot open 24/7 Front left of Free Store. Open 24/7. Front left of the Free Store. NO refundable glass (beer, wine, hard liquor) bottles, please take these to the nearest Return-It Beverage depot yourself. YES to aluminum beer, cider, pop cans, coconut water cans, boxed wine cartons (leave them intact) and tetra juice packs, including (rinsed) milk and milk substitute containers. Please leave the caps on and push the straws in and do not crush containers. Labels can be left on.