Kermit the Frog once sang “It’s not easy being green”, but he’d obviously not been to Alberta (that’s puppets for you!). The province has a multitude of ways to reduce, reuse and recycle to help keep the environment clean and to help you “do your bit”. This program and the anti-litter campaigns help to keep Alberta's roadways and public parks looking shiny. In comparison to the UK and Australia Alberta's recycling programs are leading the way to a greener earth.
For starters there are bottle depots (return facilities) dotted all over the place. They accept anything that holds a drink – aluminum cans, glass or plastic bottles, cardboard or plastic milk containers, drink pouches, etc. You’ll notice on your receipt, that when you purchase any beverages you are charged a recycling fee. This is the amount returned to you when you choose to recycle those containers. Everything 1 litre or less is .10 cents and larger than 1 litre is .25 cents. For more information on this program see www.bcmb.ab.ca (Beverage Container Management Board)
Alternatively, the scouts often do bottle drives; they will pick-up your returnables for free and the money goes to fund their programs. If you are feeling particularly lazy and don’t care much for the money you get for the last Game Night your hubby and 15 friends had, then you can ‘donate’ your bottles to the little adventurers. Be warned though, they only come around every quarter (our garage wouldn’t hold the amount of milk jugs we use in a month let alone a quarter!).
What about basic recycling though and just generally keeping usable goods out of the land fill? There are depots in and around the City that collect cardboard, plastic, plastic bags, paper, newspaper, styro-foam (polystyrene), glass, metal, bikes and other items. In some areas, there is a curbside pick-up but generally you need to transport your items to the nearest collection point.
Last year I was pregnant and had the most massive jacket to cover my bump. This year, thank goodness, I had lost some weight and no longer needed that coverage! Where to put that large tent-like thing then? Every year, there is a “Jacket Racket” where gently used winter wear is collected and then given out to those that are greatly in need of warm clothing. Similarly, blankets, sleeping bags and sheets can be donated to “Project Warmth” via the fire stations or to the Animal Humane Societies around the City and towns.
Alternatively, clothes in good condition and from respectable, fashionable boutiques, e.g. Mexx and Gymboree and even some UK shops like Next and Mothercares, are accepted in the consignment stores. If you ‘consign’ goods you are basically giving them to the store to sell on for you. When items are sold, a percentage of the final selling price is given to you, normally around 40%, with the consignment shop keeping the rest. Fantastic to use when your baby is growing out of clothes quicker than you can change their diaper! See Yellow Pages to find the nearest store to you.
Along the same lines, there are various ‘consignment’ stores that accept children’s toys, children’s videos/DVDs and adult’s clothes. But, if you are feeling on the generous side then there are plenty of boys and girls clubs that welcome gently used toys, TVs and the like. Donations of furniture are also accepted in many thrift stores, which are then sold on at a low price to those less fortunate. www.informalberta.ca gives details of local stores.
Now sports-wear can often become expensive especially when junior doesn’t know whether he wants to be a world-class soccer player or Olympic gold medalist in ice hockey. Fortunately there are many shops that will buy second hand sports items from you and give you a discount on the purchase price of the next size up. Sport Mart is one of the bigger chains in Alberta to supply this service or there are local traders like Edge Sports in Cochrane. So the ice-skates may be a little smelly but children’s feet have a habit of growing, so it’s a much cheaper and greener way to kit them out.
Now I like reading and often wonder what to do with those books that are a bit raunchy to pass on to my grandma. Well there are bookshops around that will buy your books for re-sale. You won’t get the full price but at least you’ll get something for those thumbed pages. Bentley Books in Cochrane is a good starting point, telephone: 403 932 6599.
Another way of getting rid of some of your ‘already used and loved’ items is the popular website www.kijiji.ca which covers the Calgary area, and, in fact, the whole of Canada. This is similar to the eBay site and is free to buy or sell practically anything including cars (it contains job ads too). Or if you feel, inclined you could hold a garage sale. (For UK residents reading this – that’s like a car-boot sale but you just hold it on your driveway!)
And just so you can gauge just how green Alberta is here are a few more options for your recycling:
Spectacles - recycled by Canadian Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centre see www.clerc.ca. Beds - some of the bigger mattress sellers collect your old bed, break it up and recycle all the parts. (You need to check with individual shops as to the availability of this service.) E-waste - (to any technophobes that’s computers, laptops, TVs and any related hardware) can be donated to ERA see www.electronicrecyclingassociation.com; or see if any local schools are collecting them or go to any one of several collection sites. Car seats – instead of filling up those landfills see www.kidseatsrecyclers.ca.
Obviously I could go on and on here, listing places to drop off your dusty old trumpet, your QWERTY typewriter from the 70s and those disco skates you were once so fond of. This is just a little snapshot to show you just how Alberta is trying to get with the picture when it comes to environmental issues. For further information and full listings go to www.albertarecycling.ca .
Remember: one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure!!!!!!