Belmont student Kati Walters earned this year's CRD EcoStar award for youth leadership for her efforts to support the comprehensive recycling program at Belmont.

Belmont student recognized for groundbreaking recycling efforts

Changing the recycling habits of a school the size of Belmont is no easy task, but these days separating plastics, paper and tetra packs has become the new norm.

For her efforts in helping cement this seismic shift in school culture, Grade 11 student Kati Walters won this year’s Capital Regional District EcoStar award for youth leadership.

The annual EcoStar program highlights environmental initiatives, stewardship and leaders from across the region.

“It was hard to change the mindset of recycling nearly nothing (at Belmont) to recycling nearly everything,” Walters said. “To see how far this has come along in one year is amazing.”

Walters was part of the environmental group in Belmont’s leadership program, which played a key role in organizing and motivating students to use recycling bins spread through 100 classrooms.

Walters, 16 and who was born and raised in Langford, said it wasn’t easy getting 1,400 students to not only recycle, but to separate out plastics, foils and cans. Leadership students went from class to class, giving short lessons to fellow students on how and what to recycle.

“At first it was difficult to get the word out,” Walters said. “But once bins were in every classroom, recycling became expected. Students encouraged each other.”

Walters and her fellow leadership students and teachers now spend part of each Friday gathering and sorting refundable pop cans and tetra packs for Alpine Recycling, and plastics, foils and Styrofoam for Pacific Mobile Depots.

“At first it was a small group going every Friday from class to class,” Walters said. “Now other classes get involved. It’s a good way for students who normally don’t get involved to be involved.”

Walters admits that just a few years ago, recycling wasn’t something she paid much attention to. On a whim in Grade 10, she signed up to volunteer with Pacific Mobile Depots for its monthly Belmont depot.

It was there she learned that all manner of hard and soft plastics, Styrofoam and electronics could be recycled. It was a watershed moment.

“PMD completely opened my eyes to what can be recycled,” she said. “I learned about ‘beyond the blue box,’ and that’s where it all started.”

Walters went on to volunteer with the Off the Grid festival at City Centre Park and for Earth Day at WestShore Town Centre. She continues to volunteer with PMD at Belmont.

Those efforts were more than enough for Belmont leadership teachers Troy Harris and Kevin Harrington to nominate Walters for the EcoStar award.

“Kati really played an instrumental role in getting the recycling program up and running,” Harris said. “She recycles to make a difference in the world, not because of leadership class, but she sees value in it. Not a lot of kids see things that way.”

Harris said he expects Belmont’ recycling program to continue for the next school year, still organized and run by teachers and students volunteering their time. Money earned from refundable bottles and cans helps offset costs for recycling plastics and Styrofoam with PMD, but leadership students still need to fundraise to break even.

Harris said Walter’s award demonstrates such programs are worthwhile and worth emulating.

“We knew Kati would get the award. We expected her efforts to be recognized. It’s a huge award and it says a lot about our students,” Harris said. “We have an amazing bunch of kids. They are working to make an impact on the school, the community and the world, and Kati is one of the leaders.”

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

 

 

Just Posted

Greater Victoria businesses lose thousands of dollars in credit card scams

Affected businesses want to spread the word to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else

Four-sailing wait at BC Ferries Swartz Bay terminal

Full vessels create long waits on Friday afternoon

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

Tent city campers prepare to leave Uplands Park

Vehicle access remains restricted at Cattle Point

A year in tent city: Timeline of Camp Namegans

Since September 2017, Victoria’s homeless camp has set up in more than 20 locations

WATCH: Twelve Angry Jurors puts a new spin on an old tale

Canadian College of Performing Arts opens season with reworked version of Reginald Rose teleplay

‘Mom, I’m in trouble:’ Canadian faces 10 years for alleged graffiti

Brittney Schneider, another tourist caught spraying message on walls of Tha Pae Gate in Thailand

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for Oct. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support amalgamation for communities in the Capital Region?

Residents in Victoria and Saanich will be voting on Oct. 20 on… Continue reading

Feds consulting on national anti-racism strategy behind closed doors

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says people still face systemic racism in some communities

Enbridge aims for mid-November to finish B.C. pipeline repair after blast

A natural gas pipeline that ruptured and burned near Prince George caused an explosion and fireball

How to get government cheques if Canada Post staff go on strike

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers said members could go on rotating strikes as early as Monday

Anti-SOGI school trustee files defamation lawsuit against BCTF president

Barry Neufeld says Glen Hansman’s words caused him “indignity,” “personal harassment,” and “anxiety”

Ocean ‘blob’ returns to B.C.’s North Coast

A 2,000 kilometre patch of warm ocean water could signal a warm winter in Prince Rupert

Most Read