Conservation Klondike has been trying to assist folks in this region to recycle more and throw away less for a number of years now. It has a recycling depot in the lane between 2nd and 3rd Avenues and another facility at the Quigley Dump, which it operates in cooperation with the City of Dawson.
The society also encourages composting and has recently added the collection of three different categories of paper to its activities.
Given the shoddy way in which many citizens treat the in-town drop-off area, I’m not at all sure how the paper collection is going to work out.
Here at Chez Davidson we are far from being the perfect recyclers, but my own experiences delivering our goods to the centre make me feel that we are a step above a good many citizens.
We sort at home, storing glass, tins and various types of plastic into plastic grocery bags. I know these things are politically incorrect, but we still use them from time to time just to have enough for this sorting procedure.
Once a bag is full, it goes into a large wooden bin that we have on our backyard parking pad. When that bin gets full, several times a year, we fill up the truck or the car, trundle downtown, and drop the stuff off in the appropriate transport sacks.
It’s while I’m making the exchange that I start to feel virtuous. There are signs all over the place to give people directions. Get the labels off the glassware and the tins. Wash them out. Where they can be squashed, do so.
None of this is hard. Most of the labels come off in the wash water in the sink. Squashing the milk containers and other plastic means they take up way less room in your own storage plan. Crushing the tins takes a simple foot stomp. We do this on an old plastic cutting board so we don’t damage the kitchen floor.
If you’re all sorted and squashed, it just takes a few minutes’ work to leave all the stuff in the appropriate bins.
This is where you notice all the un-crushed plastic and tins, which fill up the bins much more quickly than there is any need.
Then you see the number of items that haven’t been washed and still have food bits or left over liquids clinging to them, the green garbage bags that apparently contain actual unrecyclable garbage, and the number of things that have been left for someone else to sort.
The signage at the centre has improved remarkably over the years. Illustrated signs show you examples of what types of materials should go where. One clearly states: “Please don’t throw your recycling onto the deck. Sort it into the bins.”
There is even a separate garbage can for those of us who sort our material in grocery bags to throw those items away in.
Yet it appears that a lot of people pay no attention to any of this and simply use the place as a garbage dump.
The board members and employees at Conservation Klondike have worked pretty hard to help make Dawson a more environmentally conscious town. It seems to me that the rest of us should be able to do our little bit to make all this work better.
After 32 years teaching in rural Yukon schools, Dan Davidson retired from that profession but continues writing about life in Dawson City.