During the next several weeks - leading up to the 40 Under 40 Awards - The TIMES and Ridge Meadows Recycling Society are highlighting community members - 40 and older - who have through the years made a difference in the local recycling, environmental, and sustainability movement and who serve as an inspiration to future generations.
A lot of environmental initiatives come about through baby steps, according to Judy Dueck, the health and safety officer at School District 42. But making sure it's easy to recycle - that all the proper bins are in place and visible - is one of the key factors in a recycling program.
"I think people want to... be environmental stewards, but if you make it easy for them, they'll do it," said Dueck.
When Dueck was stationed at the school district's maintenance building, she worked hard to expand its recycling program.
She was able to get the maintenance staff to implement a full recycling program, so that it included more than just paper.
But, she said, as soon as the program was in place, everyone jumped on board and were "gung-ho" to make sure everything got recycled.
Since moving to the main administrative building on Brown Avenue, Dueck has been "expanding and enhancing" already existing recycling opportunities, for example, ensuring that everyone had recycling baskets under their desks for easy accessibility.
The only thing that is missing from her workplace recycling program is organic recycling, Dueck said.
Working in the school district, Dueck is impressed by the recycling programs in the schools, noting that every school seems to have its own environmental champion.
"There's always keeners in every school," she said.
In the schools, students usually take care of recycling, and this helps them feel responsibility for it.
Dueck compares recycling to seatbelt laws. When she grew up, no one wore a seatbelt, but now it's become second nature to do so.
Recycling has also become second nature to many younger people as they've learned environmental principles in their classrooms.
"It was my children who taught me about recycling," Dueck said.
Now she recycles as much as she can at home and composts. She also doesn't use a garburator nor a dishwasher, and never leaves her taps running even though her home is on city water.
"I hate it when people leave taps running - it drives me crazy," she said.
Dueck said the biggest challenge going forward is going to be getting green waste and food scraps recycled.
One of Dueck's pet peeves is the amount of packaging used on consumer items, and when she buys things, she often wonders "why do we need this?"
To nominate someone under 40 for 40 Under 40 awards, go to www.rmrecycling.org.