Not often does K’atlodeeche First Nation and Moscow appear together in the same thought. But it happened recently for us.

It was just after we had completed a couple of interviews concerning a recycling initiative on the Hay River Reserve.

Not long afterwards we happened to read in a BBC online article that Moscow – the capital of Russia – has no recycling program.

We were struck by the fact that a community of a few hundred people can be further ahead in recycling than a massive city of 12 million.

K’atlodeeche First Nation has to be praised for launching a recycling initiative – now in its second year – that you can read about in this paper.

That is an example of the way things should work. Everyone – even a small community – should take responsibility for protecting the environment, with recycling being at the top of the list.

As for Moscow, what is it thinking?

We all know that Russia has its own way of doing things – combining authoritarianism with the decorations of democracy, for instance.

However, we are in disbelief that a city the size of Moscow has no recycling program. That almost defies logic.

It really does not take a genius to realize that Moscow should have a recycling program for its own good.

For one thing, it means landfills – i.e. dumps – would be limited in size as much as possible and not eat up land that could be put to more productive purposes. Although perhaps Russia, which is the largest country in the world, is not concerned about using land for dumps. It might think it will never run out of land where it can toss garbage.

But that seems to be the least of Moscow’s problems, along with the communities surrounding it.

According to the BBC, the landfills in the Moscow region are now in crisis. One town has declared a high alert due to a nearby toxic landfill and has provided gas masks to its residents because of potential health problems.

We’re not quite sure if there’s an underlying truth to be found in comparing recycling on the Hay River Reserve to the non-existent one in Moscow.

No doubt it is easier to organize a recycling program for several hundred people than millions. But it is also true that a city of millions needs a recycling program more than a community of hundreds.

However, what we think we can learn from comparing recycling on the Hay River Reserve and in Moscow is that recycling is accepted as an environmental necessity by much of the world, and it is also accepted as making good business sense.

But not all of the world. Not even Russia, which can put humans in space and produce nuclear weapons while its capital city cannot properly handle the waste it produces.

On the other hand, recycling is now accepted as the gospel truth in Canada.

Therefore, recycling, which was limited to big cities in Canada not that many years ago, has now been adopted by places as small as the Hay River Reserve.


Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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