How small can you make a month’s garbage?

Wildsight challenges Cranbrook residents to compete to see who can throw away the least trash in May.

Skye McDougall contemplates the three Rs and C – reduce

Skye McDougall contemplates the three Rs and C – reduce

How much could you reduce your household waste, if you concentrated all your efforts?

That’s the question Wildsight is asking Cranbrook residents with its Clean Bin Project.

Running throughout May, the Clean Bin Project is a one-month challenge people can sign up for. Then participants will challenge each other throughout the month to recycle as much as possible and keep their garbage to a minimum.

Wildsight’s sustainability coordinator Skye McDougall said that when the Clean Bin Project ran in Kimberley, some families were able to fit a month’s worth of garbage into a single bread bag.

“I’d like to challenge Cranbrook to do better than Kimberley,” said McDougall, “and I’m ready to help!”

“The goal of the Clean Bin Project is to tackle the serious issue of waste reduction,” said McDougall. “We can do this by raising awareness and demonstrating how reducing waste can be do-able and easy.”

McDougall hopes that the sense of competition will encourage participants to work harder to recycle as much as possible. People taking part can share about their experience on Facebook and learn strategies on cutting down waste. McDougall will be available to answer questions about how, where and what to recycle or compost.

In Cranbrook, each person produces on average six pounds of garbage every day, which works out to more than one tonne of garbage a year. Packaging makes up 33 per cent of that garbage. Composting could cut out 50 per cent of it.

McDougall said that education about recycling would help cut down Cranbrook’s waste – and it’s simpler than people think.

“With the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) and one C – that’s composting,” said McDougall, “we can make huge reductions in our garbage production.

“As a consumer myself, I know that we all create a lot of garbage,” she said. “The excess packaging used for most products means that tons and tons of garbage ends up in our landfill.”

The Clean Bin Project is the brain child of a young Vancouver couple who challenged themselves to live consumer and waste-free for a year. They carefully chose their purchases to avoid packaging whenever possible. They made a film about the experience, and sparked a movement.

As part of its launch events for The Clean Bin Project, Wildsight is showing that film on April 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the College of the Rockies lecture theatre.

Those who are interested in joining the challenge should attend that film showing, where admission is by donation.

Then, on Earth Day weekend, Wildsight is offering “introduction to composting” workshops. The Regional District of East Kootenay will offer subsidized compost bins to early workshop registrants.

Finally, on Earth Day itself, April 22, there will be a launch party for the Clean Bin project, where participants can meet one another and prepare the month-long challenge. Kimberley participants will also be on hand – with garbage in tow to show off their achievements.

Columbia Basin Trust and the federal Department of the Environment have provided financial support for the project.

To register or find out more about the Clean Bin Project, visit