A small school in the Chilcotin is going waste-free.

Assisting Tatla Lake Elementary Junior Secondary School with the goal is Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society waste educator Mary Forbes who has been working with the school and Principal Clare Gordon for several years.

“Tatla Lake had recently participated in a climate protector academy which is an online learning platform, and they loved it and after that, the students said we can do a better job, let’s do it and Clare called me as your local school expert,” Forbes says.

“So I got to go to Tatla Lake and working with the students we created a zero waste lands day for the Tatla Lake school.”

Gordon says things have been going terrific with parents even getting on board with students bringing most of their food in containers or bags that can be re-used.

“We get milk delivered once a month so the plastic containers and the foil lids they can all be recycled so we’ve been cleaning those and recycling those,” Gordon says.

“Our closest recycling depot is Nimpo Lake which is about a 45-minute drive from here so once a month I will be taking all of the recycling to Nimpo and putting it in the proper bins there. We’ve also been recycling bottles and cans and everybody in our community it seems like drops off their returnables at the school and we use that money for field trips.”

Calling Tatla Lake School a gem in the opportunities it provides to students, Forbes says adding zero waste is just a feather in the school’s cap thatĀ also recycles its pens, crayons and markers through a program offered by Crayola and Sharpie.

“Because it’s a small school, each of those students teach each other as well as the community,” Forbes says.

“By teaching not just the school the entire community will become engaged. This is just the first step and the communities that live out west because they’re so closely tied to the land their ability to gaze the impacts on the land for example with landfilling is something that is very close to their hearts so I know that they’re really interested in having some recycling opportunities, and it’s going to be great because the residences are going to learn from their students about what recycling is needed at home.”

The Cariboo Regional District approved $850 in funding at its Board meeting Friday for the school to purchase a composter so they can meet their goals of becoming a waste-free school.

(Editor’s Note: Listen to Mary Forbes talk about the challenges the school is taking on in becoming a waste-free school in the audio file below)