Environmental issues: being part of the solution

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  by Theresa Peluso 

The problem with our natural environment is that so many humans are consuming and polluting as though there's no tomorrow – and if this continues, there won't be, at least for us humans. Luckily for us, numerous individuals and groups are doing what they can to change this attitude, including in Mississippi Mills and Carleton Place. As promised in my January column, I'm highlighting the efforts of more people who are trying to make a difference.

 Here's what Almonte District High School is doing. The Grade 10 students, as part of their Civics class, are helping out with recycling their trash in a big way. Once a week they collect the blue boxes from each classroom and office, take them to a central recycling area, separate out the cardboard, paper, plastic, and metal, then finally, empty these recyclables into a big bin outside the school. Their Student Council voted last year and this year not to sell water bottles at their dances and other activities. Students are encouraged to bring reusable water bottles, or to write their names on the cups they use at dances.

 Carleton Place High School has also gotten involved in recycling in an effort to be green. The impetus was a visit to the Carp dump by Grade 9 students, who saw the huge mound of smelly garbage that results after the garbage from every household and institution leaves the curb. Now they have blue bins in every classroom, and beside every trash can.

 Almonte is lucky to have the Hub, a non-profit organization that sells donated clothes, toys, books, small household items, and crafts that have been gently used, at bargain rates. The proceeds go to various groups and causes, including scholarships, health needs, sports teams, senior travel, and Christmas baskets. Unfortunately, Hub volunteers are often stuck with unsellable items. (As they say, sometimes one person's trash is not another person's treasure; it's really just another person's trash.) Good souls that they are, instead of throwing this stuff in the garbage, these volunteers bag unsellable clothing, footwear and handbags and give them to the Salvation Army which, in turn, bales them and sends them overseas. LAWS and the Cat Sanctuary receive old blankets, pillows, and towels.Hub volunteers also stuff 100% cotton fabrics into bags to make rag bags, which they can then sell. In addition, they recycle old books and cardboard.

 Currently a project is underway at the Hub, where excess housewares, toys, etc., are sorted and sent to The Canadian Diabetes Association's Clothesline program.  Metals, wood, electronics and small appliances are also taken to their designated recycling areas.  Extra hockey equipment was donated to the Almonte/Pakenham Minor Hockey Association.  A large load of household items was recently given to Operation Come Home.  A little while ago, a suitcase full of stationery supplies was shipped up North by an Almonte resident.  The Hub will provide a suitcase with supplies for anyone who is going on a holiday abroad and would like to take a humanitarian donation. How's that for ideas that you can use for the unwanted, unsellable junk that's accumulating in your basement or closets?

 It's great that so many people are thinking carefully about diverting what they can from landfill. We need to do more, though! The challenge for schools, businesses and homes in our community is to reduce both our consumption and our pollution of our environment. Let us all live lightly upon this earth!