A waste reduction pizza party at the Inuvik Youth Centre Oct. 30 showed youth in Inuvik are wasting no time in coming up with ways to minimize the town’s trash.
Over a dozen kids dropped into the hall to discuss problems in waste and possible solutions before sitting back and watching the movie Wall-E, a film about a world overrun by trash.
“Ecology North wanted to know what are the driving issues people see in Inuvik,” said Elye Clarkson of Arctic Energy Alliance, which put on the workshop on behalf of Ecology North. “And what are some solutions to those problems — because, usually, the people who see and deal with the problems directly come up with the best solutions.”
Probably the biggest issue brought up was plastics, which take hundreds if not thousands of years to break down and in the process give off microplastics — microscopic grains that find their way into our rainwater and then our drinking water.
Clarkson noted the new federal government had campaigned on a single-use plastics ban coming into effect in the new year, but even then the amount of plastic being produced and put into the system is mind-blowing.
Ideas brought up as solutions included a plastic bottle collection service or encouraging bottle drives for sports teams. Avoiding bottled water is also advised, with Clarkson noting a scientific experiment showed Inuvik’s tap water is cleaner and safer than bottled water.
“I think it would be better if people who had many bags piled up could get them picked up and driven back,” noted supervisor Gail Raddi. “The other half can go to a sports team or something.”
Another problem highlighted was vehicles idling. Examples of people leaving their vehicles running for an entire hour-and-a-half hockey practice were brought up, which causes a litany of problems.
Electricity waste was listed as the other biggest concern, given that much of the north runs on diesel. Replacing old appliances and more efficient housing designs — effectively putting in the money to do it right the first time — seemed to be the underlying theme of the solutions given.
As for general garbage around town, the top idea the kids came up with was spreading more awareness about littering and having trash cleanup days, or possibly finding ways to help charities fundraise by cleaning up litter.
“I’ve heard people say that they’ve come up here and see more garbage in ditches, but it’s gotten better with the blue bins we have, but still we need improvement,” said Clarkson. “There needs to be more awareness.”
He thanked the youth for their brainstorming and said he expected Ecology North to be happy with the ideas presented.