With apologetic reference to the pop classic Rocky Horror Picture Show’s earwig tune Let’s do the Time Warp Again, let’s sally rearwards some years, and return along a timeline.
I remember, something like 40 years ago, a savvy friend of mine said to me over office coffee, “Vic, one day the environment as a garbage can is going to be a very important topic.”
Being quite self-indulgent with the human notion of this planet being infinitely accommodating to us wasteful species, I immediately replied, “You’re crazy.”
As the decades wistfully dispatched, my Nostradamus-pal’s little bon mots became desperately apparent. If you follow the news very carefully over long periods of time, you may notice that the general population catches on very slowly to what the few observant folks have been saying all along. Eventually, governments kick a topic around in their legislatures while the media presses some newly minted buzz words, and some kind of law is passed forcing people to do what’s right. And humankind, slow on the draw, may even protest until its collective grey matter catches up to that of the minority of unselfish sort’s’ warnings.
Enough banter, let’s shoot forward to July 2015, when some Pointe-Claire residents raised a stink over a new garbage plan. Some Pointe-Claire residents were holding their noses at the city’s plan to reduce garbage collection to once a week, despite balancing tax payers’ trash disposal with more composting services.
At the time, Pointe-Claire city councillor Kelly Thorstad-Cullen said told CTV news that “the strategy wasn’t about saving money, but about making the municipality greener. The city is passing out composting bins because it feels that’s the way to treat most household waste. We felt this was a natural transition for Pointe-Claire to minimize what we put in our landfills. We could easily go with garbage collection once per month.”
The report went on to say that, in 2009, St-Lazare switched to garbage collection every two weeks. After outcry from citizens, weekly pickup was reinstated after the 2013 election.
Let’s move on to a Feb. 5, 2016 headline: Beaconsfield cuts garbage production by 36 per cent (CBC). The sudden (non-rocket science) decrease (in the first month) in rubbish was because the city levied fees based on measured amount of garbage.
Beaconsfield city councillor Karen Messier noted, “When the truck goes around, only half the bins of residents are out, meaning that residents are putting their bins out every other week.” (Residents are charged between 40 cents and $1.20 per pickup.)
Okay, we finally arrive to today, in our sublime time warp: Beaconsfield and Pointe-Claire are No. 1 and No. 2, consecutively in recycling (least garbage, most compost) on the island. Astonishing stat when one realizes that Beaconsfield was No. 32 three years ago.
And I lived in Pointe-Claire at the time when those green boxes for organic collections were rolled out. Since I had my friend’s words deeply rooted in my head by then, I fervently took part in hedging my garbage and saw remarkable results. In laymen’s term, thanks to albeit lagging legislation, I pulled my head out of my you-know-what.
All this to say that there is another inching change on its way in the art of sustainable development: A student project based in Concordia and McGill university faculties, called “Deep Performance” has designed a home that reduces energy (carbon footprint) needs by 70 percent. The media reports that the project is lining itself up to win top prize at this year’s Solar Decathlon in China.
When I lived in Pointe-Claire, I was initially intimidated by having to wheel three bins to the curb. Seeing the benefits to the environment, I am now all for even more bins that separate the metal from the plastic from the paper. And finally, a few of us are saying this: Governments should pass a law that says all new houses being built should have solar panels across their roofs, and special controls that allow the home dwellers to use that self-generated power as a supplement. Or are the few too far ahead of their time, as usual?