All That Recycling Jazz

July 31, 1998

By Michael Jessen

The sound of jazz music will waft through the air in Kaslo this weekend in celebration of the 7th Annual Jazz, etc. Music Festival.

But this quaint village, that looks as if it's nestled in the Swiss Alps, has another reason to beat the drum. Kaslo is the community with the best recycling effort in the entire Regional District of Central Kootenay.

The 1,100 residents of this village recycled 21 percent of their waste stream in 1997, easily beating out the efforts of larger towns like Nelson, Creston, Castlegar and Salmo. To be fair, this honour is shared with approximately 1,000 other residents who live around Kaslo and utilize the village's recycling depot.

What makes this small community so special? Quite simply, it's the people.

The Kaslo and District Recycling Association dates back many years. Through the efforts of members like Elizabeth Scarlett, Karen Rinehart, Frank Miles and a lot of volunteers, the village has been educated about recycling and waste reduction. For years they spearheaded a once-a-month community recycle-in.

The Village Council has been extremely supportive. It agreed to provide space on village property for commercial cardboard collection. It allowed a permanent recycling dropoff depot adjacent to the heritage building which houses the fire hall and village hall. The depot is centrally located and it is used big-time --202.2 tonnes of recyclables collected in 1997 -- a whopping 267% increase from the old once a month collection that planted the recycling seed.

Faced with the question of how to charge Kaslo residents for weekly garbage pickup, the Village Council took a bold step. Whereas Castlegar and Creston allow residents to put out two cans or bags of garbage each week and Nelson allows one can or bag (these communities charge for this on property taxes or through a utility bill), the Village of Kaslo quietly opted to give their residents a clear message. Each can or bag of garbage put out in Kaslo must have a $2 sticker tag attached in order to be picked up. The message in Kaslo is clear, please make as little garbage as possible and your costs will be minimal.

Two of Kaslo's residents -- Frances Kremler and Gordon Page -- sat on the RDCK public advisory committee for five years and gave their community's input to the regional district's solid waste management plan.

The village's school, J.V. Humphries, was one of the first to invite guest speakers to address students on recycling issues. Soon recycling containers sprouted in school hallways. A group of students even set up recycling collection containers around the community and use it as a fund raising tool by cashing in the refundable bottles and cans.

The Mystic Convenience Store has prominent recycling containers for its customers.

If you visit Kaslo's Abbey Manor, you'll find the recycling containers outnumber the garbage cans. This senior's complex is home to some of Kaslo's most ardent recyclers and composters.

The recycling dropoff depot in Kaslo is looked after by two committed recyclers -- Ellie Friedenberg and Kevin Stanway -- who make sure the depot is kept clean and operating smoothly.

With such dedicated people, it is no wonder that Kaslo is the little village that could, did, and is still doing. Have a great jazz festival, but spare a moment to celebrate your recycling success story.

TRASH TIP -- Disposable or "throwaway" bottles consume 3 times as much energy as reusable, returnable containers.

All columns archived here are copyright © 1999 by Michael Jessen, all rights reserved. If you wish to print an individual column for your own use, please do so. If you wish to publish any of the columns in either print or electronic format, please contact the author at to arrange appropriate payment.