Serving Greater Vancouver & the Fraser Valley

Reduce, reuse, recycle

by Lilianne Fuller


Garbage. It’s been around through the ages – from ancient empires to modern times. Those of us who are over 40 remember the days before the “blue box” for recycling, when everything went into the garbage. It was all hauled away to unseen landfills. But people started noticing that trash was piling up everywhere and if this kept up, we’d soon be sitting on a huge mountain of garbage where green space and clean water once was. Not a pretty picture for the future of our grandkids. Although there is evidence to suggest recycling has been around since civilization began, to deal with increased consumption and disposal, a newer approach has been popularized in the last few decades – the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is becoming an increasingly important part of the solution.

Waste management programs have been implemented in municipalities throughout the entire Lower Mainland. Households sort through their own garbage and put paper, plastic and cans in separate containers. The municipality picks it up, and to pay for associated costs collects taxes and sells what people have sorted. Realizing that food waste is clogging up the system many municipalities are adopting food waste guidelines. It does make it much more labour intensive but ultimately being diligent in this task is far better for God’s creation, the Earth. In response to increasing amounts of garbage from human consumption, some church communities are making recycling and stewardship a bigger part of their values.

Being good stewards of the earth is important at Tenth Church in Vancouver, where the leadership and congregation embrace a program called Creation Care. Tenth Church has approximately 2,000 people attending every Sunday and that number of souls can make a huge environmental impact. By utilizing some of the components of Creation Care, the church’s environmental footprint has become smaller. Describing why Tenth Church holds Creation Care as a value, Site Pastor Jay Ewing says: “We have embraced it at Tenth because we believe that it is a central part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. We have been tasked with the role of stewarding His good creation…and so we are trying to live into that calling.”

One of the steps taken is the elimination of Styrofoam. Instead, Tenth Church uses only compostable coffee cups and glassware whenever possible. In addition, the church has partnered with A Rocha, an international Christian organization that engages in scientific research, environmental education, community-based conservation projects and sustainable agriculture. Once a year, to celebrate the gift of God’s creation Tenth Church holds an event called Good Seed Sunday. “Most years we roll out some sort of new Creation Care initiative on that Sunday,” Ewing explains. Green waste recovery, recycling, organic community garden, recycled paper programs and/or online programs to reduce paper consumption, organic/fair trade/direct purchase coffee are some of the initiatives that have been undertaken.

Another church community, Shaughnessy Heights United Church in Vancouver, has initiated their own program. In September 2013, under the leadership of the Fraser family, the church diverted an average of 10 large garbage bags of plastic per month from the landfill. James Fraser explains how it works: “We were concerned about how much plastic was going into the garbage at our church and in our homes. Then we heard about Pacific Mobile Depots (PMD) who do pick-ups around Victoria and Vancouver.” The members of the congregation pay $5 per bag of plastic and this covers the fee that must be paid to PMD. “It has been a great collaborative effort and an accomplishment for our church community,” Fraser adds.

Because the plastic must be sorted and inappropriate items removed, it’s fairly labour intensive but Fraser explains that when a congregation learns how to clean and sort their plastic, it makes it much easier. If this is a project your church would like to embrace, he offers this advice: “Educate the participants to ensure the correct material is brought in. Also, find a group who could do the sorting at the church; perhaps the youth group or a mid week study group.”

Whether or not your church opts into a recycling program, there are things you can do to reduce your family’s carbon footprint. For example, did you know that some local elementary schools will accept your empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls? The children use them to do crafts. But check with the local school prior to dropping off your gift.

Do you have a lot of stuff cluttering up your home? Why not donate your unwanted items? Consider donating unwanted trophies to local non-profits. Some centres for the developmentally disabled accept magazines and Christian Thrift Stores might welcome your outdated treasures.

There are Multi Material British Columbia (MMBC) communities in the Lower Mainland. This means they take part in packaging and printed paper recycling programs. In most areas, local governments continue to provide collection services and the list of accepted materials has been expanded. The following communities have assumed responsibility for curbside recycling: Anmore, Coquitlam, UBC’s Endowment Lands, the City of Langley and in the fall of 2016, the City of Vancouver and Pitt Meadows will be opting into this progressive program. Contact your municipality and ask if your community will be opting in.

For more info:

Tenth Church, Jay Ewing: 604-876-2181

Shaughnessy Heights United Church: 604-261-6377′

MMBC website:

Recycling Hotline: or: 604-683-6009

A Rocha: or 604-542-9022



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