First, let me say that this blog by no means asserts that I am currently living waste-free in Iqaluit. However, I’d really like to do my utmost to approach that goal. I’ll start by learning & planning, while taking stepwise actions to approach the goal. I’m going to share what I learn through this blog. Check out the “About” link on the bar above for our inspiration.
It’s no secret that Iqaluit, a “new frontier” in terms of cities, has been growing and changing very quickly since it was made the capital of Nunavut in 1995. In a modern sense, some put its birth at 1942 when the airbase was built. Iqaluit and its surrounds had been used by many generations of Inuit before that in a pretty sustainable way; now its infrastructure is unquestionably strained by density and “modern living”- waste treatment, toxic waste, and household garbage are all BIG issues.
One of the first things I noticed when I got here was all the garbage – everywhere. On the beaches, roadsides, in the city, on the tundra, in and around the streams… all over the place. If it had been winter, the snow may have hidden most of it, but there is still an unmistakeable presence of trash where it shouldn’t be.
With some initial google research, I’ve learned that there have been some large-ish, funded efforts to categorize waste-reduction resources & possibilities in Iqaluit (2002) and some wonderful community-driven initiatives (bottle depot) (composting) (community greenhouse).
In early conversations about recycling, people admit that there’s not much – just the bottle depot for “return for refund” type plastics and aluminum, the compost society for organics (a huge bonus), and some murmurs of paper recycling which may or may not be available to the general public. The question of how to utilize outgoing transport like empty sea-lifts leads to the tidbit that last year, they began crushing cars and compiling scrap metal to ship down south in the sea-lifts for recycling, but that some sort of technical difficulty (like a broken compactor?) had apparently halted the process and the first year targets weren’t reached.
So that’s about it – the base knowledge for an incoming Iqaluit resident. You can expect to recycle paper, organics, and deposit-containers locally, but as for the rest – it’s up to you.
Fortunately for me, tuum-est (“it’s up to you”, or alternately, “it’s yours”) was the mantra of my alma mater, and consequently summons feelings of a challenging, but worthy endeavor.