Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cowichan Recyclists

If I were to trace my love of waste back it would probably have started at childhood. I honestly couldn't get enough of "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. But it wasn't until I took a summer student position with the Cowichan Valley Regional District, that I really saw the importance of waste management as a career and an essential element to a well functioning community.

I want to shed light on some inspiring Community-level Waste Management Projects that are really making a difference. And what better place to start than close to home.

Cowichan Recyclists is the brain child of Aaron Bichard and Katie Harris. Based in Duncan, BC, they have been helping downtown businesses recycle since 2007. I first learnt about Cowichan Recyclists while I was a summer student working with the Engineering Department at the Cowichan Valley Regional District. I had the opportunity to meet with Aaron on a few occasions and was always impressed by the passion and drive he had for his work. Their simple venture is about more than running a business, its about supporting the community and reducing impact to the environment.

A love for biking, a desire to recycle and a locally made trailer were all the pieces needed to start the idle-free, emission-free, personalized big service with little impact.
What makes Cowichan Recyclists so great? Cowichan Recyclists is 100% human-powered which means no big diesel collection trucks here. I mean seriously check this out:

Photos Courtesy of Cowichan Recyclists
One challenge of city-wide recycling programs is that they do not include businesses or apartment/strata buildings. This means that private owners must make arrangements for their own recycling and waste collection. For a small business this can be very costly and time consuming. Another challenge is that traditional waste collection companies require large bins for collection, something many downtown business owners, simply do not have room for. Cowichan Recyclists makes it easy, they offer a variety of pick up options depending on the amount of recyclable material being generated.

For more information be sure to check our their website:

What I love about this idea is that it can be applied anywhere. As I start to brainstorm with the City of Ende here in Flores I am already thinking if this concept would work as an income generating project for out of work individuals. Plus its a win-win for residents and government alike, residents can generate income from their wastes and the local government benefits from increase compliance with waste segregation bylaws and reduced waste being sent to landfill.  

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