Waste Reduction Week began in the NWT on Monday, marking five days dedicated to garbage, recycling, and composting.
Free events organized by northern environmental non-profit Ecology North, using funding from the NWT government and City of Yellowknife, will urge people to think about their waste and where it goes.
“Waste really unifies a population,” said Dawn Tremblay, interim executive director of Ecology North.
“We all generate it but we’re also all impacted by it, as is the land around us.”
Events include an upcycled mask-making workshop and a salvage-and-repair event hosted by the city, encouraging Yellowknifers to fix and repurpose items rather than send them to the landfill.
A “waste reduction photo challenge” throughout the week asks northerners to showcase what they are doing to help reduce waste.
The City of Yellowknife told Cabin Radio its staff were too busy to comment on the week’s programming but said by email it “continues to encourage waste reduction.”
Online events include a waste forum on Friday, featuring key players in the territory’s waste industry examining the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on operations.
The NWT already faces challenges in managing waste, Tremblay said.
For example, Yellowknife cannot itself recycle items such as electronics and cardboard and must ship them to Alberta. The cost of transporting waste for recycling in the south can be high.
Despite this, Tremblay said NWT residents have proven resourceful.
“I think we’re quite used to being isolated in the North,” she said.
“A lot of communities don’t have road access, and so,= you’re quite used to being cut off. As a result, we don’t expect to be connected to international markets for recycling and are used to using everything that we have at our disposal.
“I think northerners are very good at finding solutions, using things locally, and very thrifty – very interested in making other people’s junk their treasure.”
A full schedule and more information can be found on the Ecology North Facebook page.