Braving the cold, bald eagles and battered teddies.

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The sun was beaming down upon us, the brightness, a stark contrast against the dark wings of the soaring bald eagles above. In the grips of a Polar Vortex weather phenomenon, students from Columbia Park Elementary in Revelstoke weren’t feeling the Sun’s warm goodness. The field trip to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District Revelstoke Landfill and transfer station was on a beautiful clear day, but at -20 degrees Celcius, just a tad cold.

With one of our students’ Dad up high in a huge machine it was a real local affair. Student’s are truly connected to the outcome of their waste here.

Students talked about family trips to the site and have developed a wide knowledge of where their waste goes. Even this pink teddy had a home – albeit not a very nice once, it looked like it was undergoing some medieval punishment, trapped between the heavy plates that will eventually cap the open face of the landfill.

With another 75-80 years estimated to it’s life yet, it was hard to imagine that the gentle hill in front of us, capped in dazzling snow was the accumulation of disregarded waste from our town. The cold temps and snow made for a really quite pleasant tour, but the realities of a visit in the hot, stinky Summer might be another story.

Not all waste is destined to be discarded just yet.

Students were introduced to the ‘Re-use it’ centre where items can be paid to be put that the public can take.

The students were upset that more of the seemingly high quality metal and wood couldn’t just be taken from the site – our education coordinator explained it’s for liability reasons.

He stressed the importance of making sure you trade or swap or sell before bringing it to the transfer station – the landfill location should be ‘the last resort if it cannot be used anywhere else’. The students really resonated with this and thought about the ways our community tries to limit the amount of waste that reaches the landfill (facebook free, buy, swap, sell and trade pages and thrift stores).

Hardest to swallow for our students thinking ‘Beyond Recycling’ was the big pile of recyclable cardboard materials on the open face of the landfill. The workers there are employed to deposit the waste – it’s up to us as a community to make sure that material doesn’t make it there!

Students really connected with the ways they could Reduce, Refuse, Recycle and Reuse materials to avoid bringing them here to the pile on the ground – really not far from where they live.

Connecting the trip to climate change, our great coordinator Graham Casselman was excited to share that the CSRD is implementing a project to build an organic composting facility on site soon, a way to keep organic matter out of landfills and help protect our climate from the increased level of Greenhouse Gases like Methane that can accumulate when organic waste is added and decomposes in landfills. 

Overall the experience was open, transparent and very well run. The message was clear that there are always improvements but that the site was clean, organised and that we had access to all areas. The take away message was its on US to make choices that stop the wrong waste ending up clogging our landfills that could be recycled, and making better choices to reduce the burden on waste disposal facilities.

Much to ponder over…once back on the warm bus and we got some feeling back in fingers and toes!