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Artist Nolan Hubbard-Richards of Sarcan. Banner promoting Sarcan and 10 Tree partnership. Photo credit J Fries

So yesterday my daughter and I enjoyed some mother-daughter bonding time while we shared the task of taking our recycling to  SARCAN.  We each had 8 big garbage bags of plastic bottles, aluminum cans and tetra packs.  This was going to take awhile.  In Saskatchewan we are very fortunate to have an organization called SARCAN which is celebrating it’s 25th Anniversary of helping our province be environmentally responsible while also providing very valuable employment to people of all abilities.   I think that is very very cool.   I’ve stood in line at SARCAN many times in those past 25 years and have always been proud of the work they do.  I became even more so a number of years ago when we vacationed in Hawaii and I was very surprised to realize that at least back then, there was virtually no recycling occurring.  Apparently we’d been well trained because it just about killed me to have to put a bottle in the garbage, it just felt so WRONG!  Interestingly enough anyone I discussed it with in Hawaii was absolutely sure there was no way anyone would ever buy into the idea of paying a deposit, returning an item for recycling to collect the deposit back.  Granted some government legislation was required, but we’ve got 25 years of proof to show that, yes, when it’s done well, it can be successful and have all kinds of positive side effects.

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Sarcan Facility. Picture courtesy of newstalk980.com

To give a bit of an idea of how much recycling they do and the impact they make, as of September 13th their website says they have officially recycled six billion beverage containers.  That’s 6,000,000,000 containers that did not go into a landfill or on a garbage barge floating aimlessly in the ocean.

Did you know

 “recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours or a 100-watt light bulb for four hours”

Or that

“about half the amount of energy is needed to use recycled plastic to make the same product as it would with new materials”

Makes you think, doesn’t it.  They also recycle electronics and paint.  Their website is full of interesting information about their process and business.  They are involved in education in the community by hosting class field trips where students learn about recycling and are inspired to make a difference themselves.  I admit it, they make me feel green in a very good way.  Now, I also have to admit, that like any line, waiting at SARCAN can be a little bit boring (although even while waiting there is plenty available to educate you about the contribution recycling makes to the environment).  So, while standing in line yesterday my eyes wandered around the facility and I spotted a young man hanging something up.  It turned out to be a very large banner which was not only very artistic, but was informing people that in honour of 25 years recycling and National Forest WeekSarcan is partnering with a local entrepreneurial endeavour called Ten Tree to provide 8000 tree seedlings to Saskatchewan residents, cause that’s what Ten Tree does.  They do this around the world.

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10 Tree photo from blogs.ubc.ca

If you haven’t heard of Ten Tree, it is the brain child of David Luba, Kalen Emsley and Derrick Emsley and is based in Regina, Saskatchewan.   Ten Tree, established only in 2012, sells quality casual clothing and accessories, and for every item sold…. they plant 10 trees.  Yes, 10 trees. For every item sold.  They work with people to plant native species all over the world.  Their website is full of information about how they’ve been saving and restoring land one t-shirt and one tree at a time.  They describe their straight forward approach:

 “The beautiful landscape we know and love is fast disappearing.  At Ten Tree, we believe that we can inspire a new group of consumers to tackle the environmental issues we are now faced with.  By planting ten trees and ensuring that all our clothing is produced responsibly we allow each and every customer to make a difference”.

They’re making it a reality.

Back to SARCAN.  It turns out that the young man who was hanging up the banner is Nolan Hubbard-Richards, a SARCAN employee who is also the artistic talent behind the banner. He was kind enough to explain about the campaign and sure enough, when I picked up my deposit refund from those 16 bags there were seedlings ready for planting.   All we had to do was commit to planting them, which we will certainly do.  I look forward to watching them grow from 6 inch seedlings into massive Pines… I think.  That was the one thing missing in my opinion – the trees were all the same, but the label didn’t include the actual species.

There are always the naysayers out there.  Just like when we were in Hawaii and people laughed at the thought of a successful recycling program, there are also those that laugh at the concept of Ten Tree and think that there is no way it will last.

I’m not going to pretend to be a fortune teller.   What I do know is that currently, both endeavours are proving successful; one historically so, the other recently.  Only time and need and desire will tell if their success will continue.  However, right now there are people willing to do what they can in creative ways to make a positive difference.  As a society we’re starting to “know better” and many of us are therefore trying to “do better” too.  When the opportunity to be able to participate in something that allows us to do better, we’re willing to take it.  SARCAN and Ten Tree both offer us those opportunities.

So, why did I choose this partnership and these businesses to write about today?  Why did I feel that joyful rise like air feeling yesterday?  These businesses are examples of taking creative, new ideas and going for it.  It’s about seeing old problems in a new way.  It’s about believing in yourselves and your ideas enough that you can overcome all those who say it can’t work, or that you shouldn’t even try.  These are examples of people who stood up and didn’t focus on all the reason why it might not work.  Instead they asked “what do we need to make this work?”  And then they did what it took to do it.

Yesterday we made a positive impact on the environment by keeping a total of 16 bags of stuff out of the landfill.  We are able to beautify our area and help the environment by planting 3 more trees.  We contributed to sustainable employment in our community.  Now that my friends, has me rising like air.  How about you?

Next time I take in my recyclables, I’m going to track the tally of my aluminum cans they give me and then calculate just how many TV hours or 100-watt lightbulb hours I just contributed too.  Now that should be interesting.

Truth:  It’s easy to focus on the negative and pitfalls. 

Dare:  Challenge yourself to focus on finding path to success.

copyright J.Fries 2013 

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