It is not an uncommon sight to see Stettler’s Grace Fix biking around in the community as Fix prefers not to use her car and add to the already huge carbon footprint.
“No one can do everything, but everyone can do something,” said Fix. “Up until now, every generation of humankind has viewed the earth as theirs to own and use to the fullest with little consideration of the resulting impact on the planet or on our health.”
Fix said that people are only realizing now this can no longer continue.
“Rather than inheriting the Earth from our ancestors, we are borrowing the Earth from our children,” Fix explained. “That new attitude encourages us to better conserve our resources and further reduce our pollution.”
A healthier planet means healthier people, noted Fix.
“So when I retired, I decided that I should ‘up my game’ and see what I could do to help my local community be eco-friendly,” continued Fix. “I believe that attitudes start at the local level and grow from there.”
Fix said that she is thrilled to see the Stettler area jump on board with this effort.
According to Fix, five years ago Stettler had an excellent curbside recycling program but there was little recycling for County of Stettler residents.
In 2012, the Stettler Waste Management Authority sought out a volunteer recycling representative to expand recycling possibilities and Fix became that volunteer. “Today in Stettler and the County of Stettler, we recycle as many different items as in many large cities. Residents have a strong recycling mentality,” Fix said.
Fix reflects that it has not been an easy journey and little steps had to be taken to encourage and engage the community.
“We encouraged the development of regular recycling access for all county residents, such as cardboard, tins, plastics, paper at their local transfer site,” noted Fix.
Fix spearheaded the Stettler Eco Centre, which takes toxic recycling. The centre opened in 2013 and will take in paint, household batteries, fluorescent bulbs, household hazardous waste – which is anything with a Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) warning symbol – inkjet/laser toners, cell phones and disposable propane cylinders.
“Residents have made this part of their waste routine, resulting in impressive toxic recycling volumes,” stated Fix.
This has resulted in more than 6,000 pounds of small household batteries and more than 11,000 fluorescent bulbs out of the landfill in two-and-a-half years.
“Imagine 11,000 fluorescent bulbs sitting in the landfill,” Fix said. “That’s quite an awful picture that we have avoided.”
Diverting usable but no longer wanted items from the landfill was also important to Fix.
“I initiated and fundraised for the Take it or Leave it Centre, which opened this year, where residents can drop off usable large items for other residents to take for free,” she said.
Take It or Leave It has proven to be a very popular facility with “items flying in and out so quickly that nothing sits there long.”
This year mini-toxic recycling collection bins have been placed in the outer transfer sites in the county.
“When I started looking for an avenue to try to make a local difference for the planet, I saw that in the Communities in Bloom program ‘Environmental Action’ was one of the six components that communities were encouraged to develop,” said Fix. “In 2011, I joined the Heartland Beautification Committee, which oversees Stettler’s Communities in Bloom participation, and became the chair of the Environmental Action sub-committee.”
Fix said that she viewed environmental protection as changing small habits, habits that have resulted in unintentional but drastic impacts on the planet and on our health.
“So one at a time, I spearheaded projects to address some of these habits, such as Bring Your Own Bag – Stettler,” said Fix. “BYOB uses about one million single-use plastic bags per year and we have seen a significant reduction in our community but we can still do more.”
Other initiatives that Fix has introduced within the community are Trying to Be Idle-Free – helping people to stop and think about turning off their vehicles when not moving; Trash 2 Treasure – a weekend in April when residents can set unwanted items on their front lawns and others can take them for free; Cigarette butt receptacles – nine have been placed around town and the butts are recycled; Eco Excellence Awards – each year individuals, businesses and non-profits whose habits or projects exemplify ‘Reduce, Re-use, Recycle’ are recognized and Walk ‘n’ Roll.
“Changing habits is contagious and we see that first hand,” continued Fix. “Our projects make a difference with some people who then influence other people and the ball continues from there.”
According to Fix, recycling is contagious, re-using is contagious, bringing your own shopping bag is contagious, being idle-free is contagious, walking or biking to your destination is contagious.
“In our busy lives, people sometimes don’t see that some of our habits really are harmful and need to be changed,” added Fix. “It just takes someone to start the change and others will soon see the benefits.”
Fix said that while she might may have initiated all of these projects, they would not have come to fruition without a support group.
“Both the town and the county councils have been very supportive of the concepts,” said Fix. “The Stettler Waste Management Authority, the Heartland Beautification Committee, the Environmental Action Sub-Committee and the Stettler Wellness Network have all been driving forces in helping these ideas become reality.”
Fix has compiled a ‘Where do I take it? A-Z’ list of where to locally recycle, re-use, or responsibly dispose of more than 600 items, posted at www.stettler.net or www.stettlercounty.ca.
“I’m very grateful to volunteer in a community of forward thinkers and doers such as these groups,” said Fix.