The participants in Wildsight’s Clean Bin Project are on Week 2 of the challenge to minimize the amount of waste that they are producing and the members are coming up with some creative ideas.
All of the members are composting their food so the garbage that they would have to hold on to is just things that can’t be recycled or composted.
“There are not a whole lot of rules to it,” said Skye McDougall, organizer for this year’s project. “We want them to hold on to all of their garbage at the end of the month and then we have some results of the total amount of garbage we’ve created.”
Participants are finding that some of the things that they took for granted, such as bubble gum and eating out, cause too many un-recyclable bi-products and so they have to make sacrifices.
“But now I am getting the hang of it, like I have a travel case in my car of little containers, so that if I do have anything left over — take out items or whatever — you should have something with you because you’re often tempted to use the Styrofoam container if you don’t have your own,” McDougall said.
Each of the eight Clean Bin participants set their own personal goals and their own pace, but some of them have gone beyond what was expected.
“Some that I have heard back from are taking it really to the extreme,” McDougall said. “There is one girl who is composting her Q-tips and Kleenexes and stuff. So her bathroom garbage has been practically eliminated.”
The packaging that a lot of products come in is very challenging to work with as well. For example, how meat products are kept in Styrofoam trays wrapped in shrink wrap is one of the things that McDougall said is a big problem.
“A place like Rick’s Meats would be a good alternative. And then of course, hunting and fishing your own,” she said. “The packaging is crazy. Like, you can’t buy a cucumber that isn’t wrapped in plastic.”
Local farmers’ markets are a good source for those monitoring the amount of plastic packaging waste.
With the recycling aspect of the Clean Bin project, there is also the challenge of the limited recycling facilities that are available in Kimberley and Cranbrook area.
“Like our plastics. If it doesn’t have a one through six, we can’t recycle it,” McDougall said.
One of the group members has overcome that challenge by sending some of the recyclable items to her family members in Alberta because there are more resources there.
One of the strategies that the group has come up with is re-using items. For example one of the members got to the end of their coffee and had the foil lined bag left over, which couldn’t be recycled.
Upon consulting with the group, they suggested that she could use it for an arts craft or even refill the bag with coffee from a store that sells in bulk.
This is the first Clean Bin project in Cranbrook, inspired by the original Clean Bin Challenge put on by a couple in Vancouver.
“Grant and Jen, living together, had separate bins and they were just battling it out between each other on who could have the smallest bin in the end,” said McDougall.
They competed against each other for a year, during which time they were also not allowed to buy non-essential items.
The original Clean Bin project created a documentary of their experience which has inspired the Cranbrook group to create their own video, created by Jose Galbanez, about their own project.
The group hopes that people will see the problems that our throw-away society has created and that we have a lot of impact in what we send away to the landfills.