Rehab focused on three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle
BY SARA KEDDY
It’s an award they’ve won before, but staff, residents and the Kings Regional Rehabilitation Centre team have “taken it to another level. We won in 2005, but we’ve been more intensive, really more concentrated and the whole building is consistently involved,” says rehab chief executive officer Betty Mattson.
KRRC won a 2009 Mobius Environmental Award as institution of the year from the Resources Recovery Fund Board. The residential facility submitted its own nomination. “We won in 2005, but haven’t entered again. We wanted other institutions to have a chance to be recognized for their own improvements,” Mattson says.
At KRRC in the meantime, though, reduce, reuse and recycle have become guiding principles. “We really wanted to cut down on our plastics,” Mattson says, pointing to 600 meals prepared every day, not to mention the snacks being served in individual units. “Then there’s the food waste. We compost all that, but we’ve been looking at portions and having menus that use common ingredients.”
Adding in an emphasis on buying more meats and produce locally and KRRC has made a difference when it comes to counting food miles. “We grow a garden and we make salsa with the residents. We’ve purchased more durable dishes. We’ve had a 30 to 40 per cent reduction in straight garbage, just through diligent sorting.”
In just the past five years, there has been a 96 per cent drop in the number of foam cups purchased, 65 per cent fewer plastic spoons and close to 100 per cent elimination of paper and foam plates. “The whole staff and the residents have done this,” she said.
The rehab runs a number of green-themed programs as part of its work options and activities, from sending 4,000 pounds of wood shavings from The Plank ‘n Hammer workshop to farmers for bedding and selling sawdust to gardeners to laundering local industries’ latex gloves for reuse and sorting old clothes for buttons and rags. The centre also refurbishes old computers, collects, washes and returns refundable drinking containers, makes cards and crafts from old books and magazines and recycles e-waste. “We’re always looking for more,” Mattson says, adding they’re mulling over their options of raising a few pigs or even turkeys, analyzing and greening the facility’s electrical and fuel systems. “There’s a lot more we could be doing.”
Also getting a green nod in Kings County are Valley Waste Resource Management’s waste management education programs, honourable mention; Valley Regional School Board custodial foreman Chris Hiltz for individual excellence in waste reduction, honourable mention; and the enviro-depot of the year was the Greenwood Enviro-depot.