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  • Writer's pictureKayle Barker

Leading from the back

It's always been interesting how people adapt. Regardless of geography, circumstance, environment or culture, we always seem to find a way. The ironic part of it all is how we choose to adapt, and it's not always for the better.

Let's take the new urgent environmental movement for example. A young girl from Sweden stands up and says enough is enough. She points fingers, names names and shames those that are supposed to lead, for not doing enough. For not doing what they're supposed to. For not stopping climate change.

But what about us? We always hear that a few small changes made by billions can make a huge impact. But how do we make those changes? Start using paper straws? Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Re-purpose? Drive electric cars? Yep!

The short answer is yes. That's what we do. Something. Anything. But what if we live in a town of 80,000 people, geographically in the middle of nowhere? Think about it. If Quesnel, Vanderhoof of Mackenzie didn't exist, we're it within a few hours in any direction. That's not a bad thing. It's just reality. Prince George, or Northern BC, for that matter, is not leading the charge on the environmental protection front. We're too small. Vancouver is never going to listen to us. We're never going to be the center of the recycling world. Nobody is ever going to look to Prince George to "save us all".

So what do we do? We have a curbside recycling program that is adorable, at best. It's not real. It's not significant and it's not going to save the planet. It makes some us feel good and like we're doing the right thing. And that's where the problem, and the irony comes in. It's like having a rash and continually putting on ointment to take the itch away. The underlying problem is still there, but you feel better. For a while.

So what? What's the point?

The point is that we all make choices and we all make trash. But we can make better choices and we can make less trash. How does the "small" town make a big difference? We recognize that we will never have the infrastructure of the lower mainland or that of major cities around Canada and the U.S. What we do have is the ability to start. We have the ability to simplify. The ability to step back. Recognize that nothing ever started out perfectly. The old saying "start where you are with what you have", is very apt to this situation. Our current systems aren't ideal. Landfills aren't ideal. Diesel powered service and collection vehicles aren't ideal. But....

We can now collect methane from the landfill for energy, rather than just gassing or burning it off. Frankly that could have happened many years ago, but let's not attack politics at this point. We can bring our own bags to the store. Drive less, walk more. Those are all great ideas and really do help.

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