(Maple Ridge Museum) Blue recycling van that did curbside pickup of newspapers in 1985.

Looking Back: Recycling society springs forward

Museum joins Earth Day celebration April 21st at Memorial Peace Park.

As we spring forward into March with more daylight and warm weather, it’s the chance to take in all the natural beauty this city has to offer, and there is certainly no shortage.

Maple Ridge is home to close to 100 parks and sometimes these outdoor spaces are taken for granted. We see them all the time but tend not to think of how certain parks, or trails got there. It all has to do with community support. Everyday citizens coming forward, and making their voice heard, and keeping our spaces green: making us aware of what we can all do to share cooperatively and maintain our ecosystem for future generations to enjoy.

One of the best ways to get involved, during this month and next is check in with what the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society is up too. This year’s Earth Day theme is “DIY: Make it, Grow it, Fix it, Share it!” and during March and April they are running Repair Cafes, encouraging people to bring their broken household items for repair.

Recycling is processing used materials into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials.

We often think of recycling as primarily a late 20th Century movement. However, recycling has been in existence for most of human history.

In 1972, recycling began in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows with a group of committed volunteers, under the name Society for the Promotion of Environmental Conservation (SPEC).

Far ahead of many other municipalities, these volunteers, including Beryl Cunningham, Candace Gordon and Julie and Dave Koehn, forged partnerships with local manufacturers, developed a system to sort and ship recycled materials, promoted the idea of recycling to local residents, and began collecting newspaper, glass, and tin cans in a backyard shed in Hammond.

Members worked with the City of Maple Ridge to acquire space at the Cottonwood Landfill to set up the first Maple Ridge Recycling Depot in 1974.

By 1980, curbside collection began in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

In 1981, committee members realized that the movement had outgrown SPEC and voted to create a separate organization, the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society. (Ridge Meadows Recycling Society).

In 1990, the current recycling depot was built, just off River Road in the Albion Industrial Park.

Soon after, compost bins were provided to home owners, as a solution to diverting organic materials from the landfill.

In 1997, the society began a formal partnership with the city and as early as 2007, plastics were added to both blue box and depot program, which even today is still years ahead of other municipalities.

This year marks the 46th for the recycling society, and on Saturday, April 21st at Memorial Peace Park the museum will be joining everyone to celebrate Earth Day for an all ages event that includes: Family Freecycle, Cycle Recycle Free Bike Draw, arts and entertainment, interactive booths, a special Haney Farmers Market, electric vehicles, and a Food Truck Festival.

Be sure to check out rmrecycling.org for full details.

Allison White is the curator of the Maple Ridge Museum.

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