The Flipside Youth Centre has teamed up with Clean Conscience Recycling to form a new Green Team to help divert waste in the Sylvan Lake area.
“They had called me about starting a Green Team,” Clean Conscience Owner Leanne Bertram said. “They were willing to help. It is a small group of kids at this point who get together at the Community Centre.”
To help create an understanding of the amount of waste created in our community, Bertram felt it would be a good idea to show how much waste is created where Flipside is located at the Community Centre.
“We decided that the first thing we would do is a waste audit of the Community Centre,” she said. “I had them collect garbage for three days from the different areas throughout the building. I went there after that and we put gloves on and went through the garbage. We had different containers set up and I talked to them throughout the process on what goes where.”
The group separated out the waste into multiple bins in order to prevent much of it from ending up in the landfill.
“We had a bin for composting which was anything from organic foods and coffee grounds to paper towels,” she said. “We had a bin for mixed recycling and we had a bin for odds and ends plastics. In the end, there was very little garbage.”
The visualization of how little garbage actually needs to go to the landfill is key in helping people understand why waste diversion is so integral.
“After that we sat down and I asked them if anything surprised them about the waste and what they can do to help change things at the Community Centre,” Bertram said. “For example, there was a lot of bags within bags – meaning a lot of waste. They came up with being able to dump the garbage out into one big bag in order to save plastic.”
The Green Team brainstormed multiple ideas on how to prevent waste – something that Bertram hopes they continue to do.
“They are also thinking about starting a compost there because there was a lot of paper towel waste,” she said. “They seemed excited about it and I think it is a real eye-opener when they visually see everything.”
Bertram hopes that this group will begin mobilizing other young people.
“My thought is that these kids can help educate other kids,” she said. They could go into schools and do waste audits.”
Bertram was surprised to see that many of the kids were excited to learn more about waste diversion.
“It is nice to know that there are kids out there who want to learn about this,” she said.
”They also learned things like that you can compost wood and dry wall, too.”
Bertram sees this as just another step in creating a greener community in Sylvan Lake.
“I think we are just getting started in this community,” she said, adding that, “I like doing it, especially when they actually see everything.”
Bertram also made her own notes on how the Community Centre can clean up some of its waste.
“I evaluated what bins they had throughout the building and then made a list of where they could have some other ones.”
She added that she would like to see the Green Team continually getting involved and that she, “Would like to see them go out and do some waste audits on their own.”