Making a difference one recycled can at a time

By 
  • March 10, 2008

{mosimage}BRAMPTON, Ont. - Ian McGillivray single-handedly became his high school’s recycling program after he noticed it didn’t have one.

“I got fed up and started to do something,” said the 18-year-old student from Cardinal Leger Secondary School in Brampton.

This winter, he armed himself with a garbage bag and picked up 45 pop cans from the school cafeteria, but he still noticed many more in the garbage. So the next day he put on gloves and dug around for cans in the trash. He collected 90 cans that day.

“I didn’t really care about being embarrassed,” said McGillivray. “Pretty much everybody thought I was in trouble, on caf duty or something like that.”

On average he started to collect 200 cans a day. He collected them for a month, storing them in his garage, before he took them to Triple M Metal, a scrap metal facility, which paid $46.75 for his 5,440 pop cans weighing in at 40 kilograms of aluminum.

“The impressive part for me is Ian had found a way for stewardship to be not just a matter of conscience,” said Cardinal Leger principal Tom Wisnicki. “He was able to demonstrate there is a value beyond conscience to the economic community by selling the recycled materials.”

With the money he raised from selling the cans he purchased 28 energy-efficient light bulbs.

“I want to give them back to the school and let the school decide what to do with them,” McGillivray said.

The school could not use the fluorescent light bulbs because they were not the right size, so McGillivray distributed them to the student body.

The school “could collect these free pop cans, make about $100 a month and give it to charity. There’s tons of ways the world could be a better place,” said McGillivray, also suggesting that the school offer students community service hours to collect pop cans.

Currently, Cardinal Leger recycles paper, cardboard and computer toner cartridges. Wisnicki said in the past the school attempted to recycle cans, but not all the students supported the initiative.

“What we’ve found is the receptacles were being used as refuse containers.”

Wisnicki said due to McGillivray’s inspiration the school is going to give aluminum recycling another try, and has purchased new recycling bins.

McGillivray remembers being amazed by nature ever since he was a child.

“I would collect rocks, acorns, sticks, I just love nature for some reason,” he said. “It teaches you in the Bible that we are the stewards of the Earth and we are the one’s who are supposed to look after God’s creation.”

With millions of people living in cities surrounded by concrete, it’s hard for them to truly appreciate nature, said McGillivray.

“People say overpopulation is a problem, but then you are calling yourself a problem. No one is a problem, we just have to find better ways to live.

“It’s the smallest choices that lead to bigger choices and that’s what makes the big difference.”

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