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Make memories, not waste

By Coun. Michael Wolfe

Published 2:21 PST, Thu December 19, 2019

We are into the holiday season, where Richmond residents celebrate the full diversity of cultural festivities. Before we turn the calendar over and enter into a new decade, I wish to offer insights regarding how we can all help our region be more sustainable. As the Metro Vancouver slogan goes: “Create Memories, not Garbage.”

This year has been the most memorable for me so far. With our new baby, Clementine, my wife and I moved into the Hamilton neighbourhood and I’ve balanced my work both as a science teacher and an elected city councillor. As time is tight, I’ve learned to value it that much more. We never really know when it might be the last season with our loved ones and that alone is a reason to have more experiences together, to show kindness, make amends for our past wrongs, and prioritize love.

In Richmond (along with most of the continent) we have a waste problem. In the past month I’ve had the pleasure of visiting our local liquid and solid waste facilities with my students. To see the look on their faces when touring the Lulu Island Wastewater Treatment Facility on Gilbert Road and the Waste to Energy Plant just north of the Fraser River. Hearing their transformative afterthoughts has been humbling. When we can contextualize the garbage (or sadly the recyclables too), and seeing the 1100⁰C  degrees incinerator burn it into our air, we are forced to confront the fact that we need a better way forward. 

As the City of Richmond strives to reach 80% waste diversion by 2020, soon it will be time to ramp up that goal! Statistics from Metro Vancouver’s recent Solid Waste Composition Study have reported that paper is still making up about 18% of the waste stream. Even with our amazing City Recycling Depot, with expanded service days and hours, it is always better to reduce and reuse.

In an effort to reduce paper waste and increase waste diversion, my family and I are taking steps to make memories and not waste this Christmas:

• We are not buying each other material gifts. 

• We are not buying any new items for our darling Clementine.

• We are staying out of the mall lineups, and spending more time together.

• We are giving the gifts of nice meals out to family

• We are using old family decorations and fresh green tree clippings.

We wish you the most joyful season with your loved ones. 

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