Recycling Just Makes Sense

“What an honour to stand up for all the Rockin’ Recyclers tonight! What a dedicated team, without condition or limit, up to the task and getting the job done, quietly and without fanfare, for each and every shift over the past 13 years,”

Habitat for Humanity Sunshine Coast, one of the smallest affiliates in Canada, had just won the prestigious Sustainable Funding Award.

How did such a remarkable achievement come about? The Rockin’ Recyclers were born a star at a time, and gently. We only recycled tiny amounts, once a day, so one recycler could easily do their bag in 10 minutes. And even that gave lots of time to talk with passersby, or stop to hold a particularly pretty-colored bottle up to the sun to admire it!

That was way back in the fall of 2004, when recycling was relaxation, not the aerobic whirl we know today! We had just set up the arrangement with the SCRD to put a little bin beside their large green community recycling bins. Teams were set up in both Gibsons and Sechelt, and soon Pender Harbour as well. We put in some bins and started picking up recyclables from the Sechelt landfill site shortly thereafter.

It was this approach that set us up favorably to win several national awards right out of the gate. Alcan started a $60,000 contest to encourage aluminum beverage can recycling. I’ll never forget getting the call in April 2005 that we had won first prize for the most refundable aluminum recycled per capita in small communities all across Canada!

Our elation fanned our passion into an unstoppable force, inspiring us to win again the second year. By the third year, other towns were trying to do what we did, and we were narrowly beaten out by a small town in Ontario. However the head start given by Alcan allowed us time to define and strengthen our recycling program. We shall always be indebted to Alcan for this three-year pilot program through which we earned $127,500, truly starting Habitat’s fundraising program on the Sunshine Coast.

Flash forward 13 years, and we are still at it, having gone through many challenges to keep this award-winning program going. We’ve installed a bright, friendly recycling booth at Salish Soils, next to their regular recycling drop-off depot. Recently, we added an awning to protect volunteers and recyclable donors from the rain, and new tables to make sorting beverage containers easier.

Mostly, our success comes down to the simplest yet most powerful gift of all: having enough helping hands! We have been blessed to have the most dedicated, passionate team players I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with! Over the years our volunteers have retired, had grandbabies, suffered as members passed away and celebrated our many wins. Last year, our recycling program added $51,257.55 to our effort to build affordable homes on the Sunshine Coast, one nickle at a time.

No team could ever have done this without being as committed to each other as we are to Habitat; the dynamic nature of our work keeps us having to cover each other’s shifts unexpectedly, or running to the bin after a frantic call that somebody just left an enormous load and the tables are overflowing again! It helps that for some crazy reason, we have all come to actually love this work!

If you want to join this fun-loving, hard-working team, fill out the Volunteer Registration Form.

— Margie Garrard, board member and recycling chair