Even though Stettler’s Grace Fix didn’t win the national $10,000 prize in Earth Day Canada’s “Hometown Heroes” contest for her environmental stewardship work through her volunteerism with the Stettler Waste Management Authority (SWMA), being one of two nationally recognized runners up means a great deal.
Fix was nominated by SWMA for her work, especially the work she put into the Eco Centre located at the Stettler Transfer Site in the northeast corner of town. It’s been open less than a year, and accepts hazardous wastes that aren’t safe to send to the landfill, like batteries and fluorescent lights, and otherwise recyclable materials like latex paint.
“I was thrilled and very honoured,” she said about the runner up finish. “The best part for me about being nominated by a local group was that it shows that the community cares about environmental stewardship. That recognition is the best.”
Fix came in second with Jacqueline Shen of Burnaby, B.C. Both were trumped by Wayne Salewski of Vanderhoof, B.C.
Fix said that her recycling, earth-friendly view of life came from growing up on the farm, where items were used until they were unusable, and nothing was thrown away.
She added that she imparted the frugal point of view to her two sons, who went and studied abroad and returned with an “urgency to do good.”
“I wasn’t sure how I could get involved (at first),” Fix said. “I came across something by Margaret Mead, (which said) ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed that’s all that ever has.’ It spoke to me.”
Around the same time as Fix was looking for a way to give back to the Stettler community, the SWMA advertised a volunteer position and she leapt at the chance. She also works with the Heartland Beautification Committee, organizing recycling events through the group as part of its Communities in Bloom agenda.
Fix has involved herself in projects that have seen recycling cages added to many of Stettler’s outdoor trash bins, the installation of bike racks on Main Street, programs designed to encourage people to commute through human-powered means like walking, cycling or rollerblading, Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) campaign and trash-to-treasure events.
“Stettler uses an estimated one million plastic bags a year,” Fix said. Since the inauguration of the BYOB campaign, she said the amount has been reduced roughly 15 per cent.
Currently, Fix is part of a group of people attempting to create a “Take it or Leave it” facility where people can divert usable furniture from the landfill, leaving it behind where someone else will claim it. The group is currently investigating funding possibilities.
“It’s estimated we throw out 1,200 large furniture items (in Stettler) annually,” Fix said, noting that it’s believed at least one fourth of those items could be reusable.
“Up until now, (humanity’s) been like invincible teenagers,” Fix said of how humanity has treated the planet. “Now we’re growing up. We see the consequences of not.”