Karen Warren is excited to see recycling taking off at the Bonaparte Indian Reserve. (Kelly Sinoski photo- Black Press Media)

Karen Warren is excited to see recycling taking off at the Bonaparte Indian Reserve. (Kelly Sinoski photo- Black Press Media)

Recycling takes shape at Bonaparte Band

More than half the homes are already sorting their cans and bottles

Karen Warren lifts the bay door of the white cube van. Inside, are several bins, each holding various recyclables, from paper to cans to styrofoam.

“Welcome to my office,” Warren said.

Warren is the recycling champion of the Bonaparte Indian Band, north of Cache Creek. Each week, she travels through the band’s three communities, collecting, sorting and hauling away products to be recycled. She also goes into homes to teach people how to source separate their products, such as ensuring cans and jars are washed and cleaned and the boxes broken down before they go into their separate bags.

“They’ve never recycled before so this is new to everybody,” said Warren, a Bonaparte member who returned to the reserve three years ago. “I show them how to recycle and what to put in each bag. If it’s not clean, I’m not going to take it.”

The program started a few months ago thanks to grant funding, which helped to procure the recycling bus. It came about as a way to reduce the amount of garbage being produced by the band and is already showing results. Before the program started, Warren said the band would take about three trailers full of garbage – between four and eight bags of trash per house – to the dump each week. That has since dropped to two trailer loads.

At the same time, she now visits the recycling centre once or twice a week compared with once every couple of weeks before the program started. She estimates at least half the band members are now recycling, while others are slowly getting on board. About 300 people – in 86 homes – live on the reserve.

“I love it,” Warren said. “I’m ecstatic. I never realized people would do it. I have a couple of families here who recycle constantly and they’re teaching their kids – one family, their youngest is seven and they recycle more than I do. Hopefully, this will get a little more established and more people will recycle.”

As the local youth worker, Warren said she is also getting more youth involved in the recycling process but “they are probably teaching me more.”

Warren said several bands across B.C. have jumped on the recycling wagon, supported by BC Recycling. Although she will occasionally have to take plastic baggies out of the yellow bag and put them in the blue one, it’s a small price to pay to see the program taking off in her community.

“They also know I’m going to be there every week,” she said. “I’m so happy.”


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