Alexie Stephens is a waste disposal nerd and proud of it.
The Town of Smithers’ new community recycling educator started her job last month and she couldn’t be more excited about letting people in the Bulkley Valley know what items should end up in their blue bins.
The first week of curbside recycling in Smithers was a huge success, Stephens said, bringing in almost 10 tonnes that would have gone to the landfill.
“The first collection seemed really great and people were coming out to the truck and asking questions,” she said. “In general, people seem really excited about it.”
She comes to Smithers from Vancouver, where she moved on a whim after living in Prince George for four years while attending UNBC, learning environmental studies and political science.
Her contract with the town runs until October.
In Vancouver, Stephens answered phones on a recycling hotline so she’s well versed in what goes where.
“I was always trying to find solutions for my own home because I think that it’s really important to live by example and I can’t be asking people to make a bigger effort if I’m not willing to do it,” she said, adding that while living with two other young women, they produced one grocery bag worth of garbage every month.
“I can recycle literally anything. You can ask me anything and I probably know where you can take it.
“I want people to see that it’s really easy to do it and it feels good to do it as well.”
A lot of her time has been spent answering residents’ questions and attending community events to let people know she is accessible and eager to help.
Glass is something many are wondering about but unfortunately is not a part of the new program, she said.
Another common query is about how much material can be put out on recycling day.
“There are no limits on how much recycling can be put at the curb,” she said. “As long as it’s neat.”
Stephens is encouraging residents to call or email her with any recycling-related questions.
“Literally, there is no such thing as a silly question,” she said. “This is brand new to the Town of Smithers and this program is brand new to the whole province so we have to remember to be patient with each other. People can ask me anything about disposal and I can answer their questions or can find someone to answer them.
“On the recycling hotline I had people call about everything. One time I got a call from a man from Langley, who was working with Transport Canada. He asked, ‘How do I recycle the old Port Mann Bridge?’”
The MMBC curbside recycling program is just the start, Stephens said, as there is so much other material not included that can be recycled in the province.
“A lot of people don’t realize how much can be recycled in B.C,” she said. “There’s a program for outdoor power equipment, all lighting products, including lamps and the fixtures for them, thermostats, smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, lawnmowers. Literally, anything that plugs into the wall, there’s a recycling program for it.
“One of my favourite things is VHS tapes and DVDs, CDs, cassettes, vinyl—they’re all part of the electronics program and can all be recycled down at the bottle depot for free.
“Between all those programs and this new curbside recycling program, there’s really no reason why you should be filling up your garbage bin every two weeks.”
Stephens is usually in her office on weekday mornings to answer questions and can be found at events throughout the community in the afternoon. Reach her at 250.847.1600 or email email@example.com.
Additional information on the Town of Smithers’ curbside recycling program can be found at smithers.ca or go to recyclinginbc.ca.