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We Have a Progressive Waste Management System—Let’s Use It

Vancouver's waste collection system goes the extra mile, and residents should use it effectively.

Enforcing garbage room rules are becoming a challenge for our strata management. Humans need patience for many things in life, such as lining up for a lunch, waiting on a customer service help line, or reading articles like this one, but we don’t have much patience for garbage sorting.

Incidents in our garbage room sometimes escalate from friendly reminders to serious warnings—with camera evidence. I think a garbage room with many bins is not a tiresome burden, but a privilege.

In September, I went to Toronto to help my son settle at university and I also visited Montreal for the first time. The hotels offered breakfast. When I finished the first morning, I went to find garbage bins. There were only two bins, one at each end of the buffet table where everything was just dumped, all into one bin. I thought of the many bins in my home garbage room and at that moment, I realized that our bins are a privilege—they give us options to help our city, even if only in a small way.

My daughter is working on a master’s program in the United States. One of the first things she did at school was to ask where she could find the compost bin—only to be told there was no compost bin. I think it would take her a while to adjust to mixing food waste with other things. This year, a friend of hers from Vancouver also went to the same school. My daughter told me, “Mom, I saw my friend today. It is so funny because he was asking the office about their compost bin, the same as I did last year. It is so Vancouver.”

We are so lucky to be living in a place that is trying for a greener future. Not only do we have a system in our garbage rooms, but also in public spaces. Our system goes that extra mile and the UNA’s Green Depot provides us with specialty waste management options for items such as batteries and household electronics if we want to do more.

Last summer, I visited the Richmond Recycling Depot to drop off old pans and pots. I was amazed by the huge scale and dedicated staff there, busily creating a comprehensive system that helps us to be more responsible for our future.

Spending three to five minutes in the garbage room to sort our own waste is not a favour to strata council or our neighbours, it is an embrace of the options we are given in progressive Vancouver.


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