The Ridge Meadows Recycling Society is a community-based, non-profit organization advocating Zero Waste through the operation of responsible waste reduction services and environmental education. The Society was founded in 1972 by a group of local environmentalists who attended the first earth day celebration. Kim Day, Executive Director at the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society explains their philosophy, which is “it was wrong to throw away everything [and] we should reuse or recycle it. There is a finite amount of natural resources on this earth and we need to protect them”.

The overall goal of the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society is Zero Waste. The society seeks to better the community by recognizing that there are limits to the carrying capacity of the natural world. We need “a balance between the environment, the economy and the social system – a balance that can be sustained indefinitely”. Activities are sustainable when they use materials in a continuous cycle or use continuously renewable sources of energy. Kim notes that “Moving towards this goal will be accomplished in small steps and we incorporate each new advancement in our daily operation.”

Some of the many services the Recycling Society offers the community are the Blue box pickup services to 23,000 homes in Maple Ridge, a full recycling depot in the Albion Industrial area, as well as education on recycling and other environmental issues to individuals, schools and strata groups as well as at community events and festivals.

The Recycling Society’s Classroom Recycling Program uses a variety of crafts and games from making cloth bags to the ‘Amazing Recycling Race’ to “challenge students to think about their choices and understand why it is important to reduce their consumption [and] reuse what they have or recycle rather than throw away”.
The goal of the program is not just to educate youth about how their choices effect the environment but also to get the message home to their parents and have it expand from there.

In 2009 the Maple Ridge Community Foundation aided this noble initiative by providing a grant to the Recycling Society for their Classroom Recycling Program. The grant was used to purchase small recycling bins for each classroom in School District #42. The students in each classroom are now responsible for taking their recycling from the classroom and sorting it into large wheeled totes for the recycling truck to pick up. Kim explains that ”both the school and the society face funding challenges to expand or streamline service delivery and this grant allowed both of us to provide good looking recycling bins in each classroom – before we just had cardboard boxes.”

By supporting the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society we are supporting the community and future generations. “Recycling is something that everyone can do to contribute to an environmentally safe community. When we think about the task of recycling,” Kim notes, “it raises awareness and understanding of the bigger environmental issues and may prompt people to make better choices.” In 2012 the society turns 40 years old and will be holding events to celebrate the theme, ‘Recycling! The next generation!’

Story by Julie Rankin

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