I can’t believe it’s been 22 years! My friends and I may have been talking about recycling even before the summer of ‘88, but it was then that SCRAPS began to get off the ground. All the papers have disappeared from my filing cabinet. I think I passed them on, a few years back, to some SCRAPS board members who were trying to save the society—so, you’ll have to forgive me if I get things wrong after all this time, in terms of places, dates, etc..But here is my recollection of how SCRAPS began.

Gemma Vandermeer had been mumbling since she left Holland about, “This pure, white paper, and we use it to wipe our asses!” In Holland, you see, there’s the choice to buy toilet paper made out of recycled paper and it is beige, not white. Laurel Sukkau was tired of us single mothers being looked down on and felt that, since economic circumstances had forced us to “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”, starting a recycling group would come naturally, with the added bonus of boosting our self esteem and our status in the community. I think it was Laurel who thought up the name and acronym--Sunshine Coast Recycling and Processing Society. As for me, I hadn’t given any of it much thought. I’d simply always followed my mother’s example by washing plastic bags for re-use and making sure 99.9% of the food I bought got eaten. After Laurel, Gemma, and I started talking seriously about starting a recycling depot in Gibsons I began to ask the clerks at Super Valu to put my groceries directly into my back-pack rather than in plastic or paper bags. You can only re-use so many bags.

Our first fund-raiser was a yard sale/bake sale in Dougal Park. Though we didn’t have society status yet, the Town was kind enough to give us permission to set up our wares there. We raffled off the Wonder Woman cloth shopping bag Gemma made.

Then the Green Party decided to hold its AGM at Camp Byng in Roberts Creek. (We were all Green Party members then, before it turned into just another spin-doctored political party.) They asked me if I knew of any environmentally-oriented non-profit who would do the food for their convention in return for a donation. Of course I offered our services. Gemma and I did the cooking. Vegetarian was requested. I made gallons of my standard bean soup. Gemma made loaves of her homemade bread. We baked lots of potatoes. The Greens paid for the food and gave us some extra cash. I think we made $300.

Then Laurel and I took a trip to Powell River to assess the recycling depot there. This was on the advice of Martin Rossander, who was involved in the community radio station there. (Martin still writes to me. Last I heard he’s 93 and still involved in community radio.)

Shortly after this, Alison LeDuc, a lawyer, got involved. (Alison later gave up the law and started Strait Coffee, the fair trade coffee shop in Wilson Creek.) She helped us set up as a non-profit society. As I said, I’ve lost all the paperwork, but I believe our mission statement included recycling everything we could find markets for and providing local employment. We achieved both these goals. We were strict about source separation and minimizing contamination.

I organized our first AGM--a well-attended potluck held at St. Aidan’s Hall in Roberts Creek--early in 1989. I remember urging a shy-seeming man named Jeff Collins to become a board member. Alison was our first president. Gert Leslie was treasurer. I may or may not have been secretary at that time, but shortly after, I resigned from the board temporarily in order to take a demanding full-time course.

I rejoined in the spring of 1990. In my absence Alison and Jeff, in particular, had done a lot of work toward getting a depot set up. We now had a government grant and the co-operation of Super Valu manager Blaine Hagedorn to set up the depot in Super Valu’s loading bay. Super Valu also covered our payroll at that time. (Around this time the Super Valu clerks stopped looking at me funny when I asked them not to bag my groceries.)

The depot opened in late summer or fall of 1990.

Jeff, who had done a lot of work finding markets and setting up the depot, eventually resigned from the board to become paid depot manager. Laurel and Gemma were both depot employees at different times. So was local artist and environmental activist, Pat Ridgway. Our girls, Saskia and Laura, aged about 10 and 11 (Gemma’s daughter and mine) contributed with their creativity and sense of humour (I’ll always remember the picture they drew—a remarkable likeness of Jeff as “SCRAPSMAN”, flying through the air, his superhero cloak streaming behind!).

I was secretary of SCRAPS from 1990 to 1992, when I moved on to other things. I don’t know that much about why, after over 10 years, SCRAPS had to fold. I do wish I’d kept my finger on the pulse of recycling in the community during those years.

I kept recycling and, about a year and a half ago, I found out that Gibsons Recycling Depot on, Venture Way, was the place to take my recyclables—the place that was truly keeping the SCRAPS vision alive.  

Together with Laurel Sukkau and Gemma Vandermeer, Anne Miles was one of the three founding members of Sunshine Coast Recycling and Processing Society. Anne moved to Gibsons 25 years ago and raised her children here. She lives in Gibsons with her soul mate, George Murray, and Garbo, a Siamese cross.