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Whistler2020 on the ground

Bitter about litter but zero’s the waste hero

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The delicate scent of campfire smoke combines tantalizingly with the effervescence of the collective mass of loonie racers enveloping me as I chug a post-ride beverage from my water bottle and eat tasty chili out of a bread bowl with a compostable spoon made from a birch tree.

Mildly tired and slightly wasted, it’s time to talk trash. The chili and bowl is edible, riders are encouraged to bring a reusable mug for beer and cider, and soft drink cans are recycled. Napkins and paper cups are converted to BTU’s as part of the campfire keeping the post race chill at bay and burning little holes in the ubiquitous Whistler puffy coat. Leaving no trace is as fun as it is important.

Last Thursday, the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association (WORCA) did something we should all aspire to in our daily lives, by hosting 200 plus citizens in a fun, if not chilly ride around Lost Lake that set a goal of leaving no trace other than a couple hundred tracks on a trail in the woods. The first ever, official “Leave No Trace Loonie Race” was inspired by two race sponsors who were committed to a near zero waste goal for their event — Alpine Café and Nesters Liquor Store.

Whistler is mad as hell about litter and we’re not going to take it anymore. We’re thinking upstream and big picture. If you won’t throw it on your own front yard, don’t throw it on ours, please. When it comes to being better stewards of our waste, any effort is a laudable effort, from Loonie Races, World Cup skiing and local events, folks here are taking a very modern approach to what and how we deal with waste. But the litter battle is constantly (de)volving.

As part of Whistler2020’s Materials and Solid Waste strategy description of success our resort community has committed to “providing infrastructure capable of continually decreasing our residual wastes,” working toward “‘closing the loop’ by providing appropriate and convenient opportunities for reducing, reusing and recycling materials,” and “is well on its way to achieving its ‘zero waste’ goal.”

And what a goal that is. VANOC is committed to zero waste at the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and the World Cup Alpine races here this past winter did a good job of testing the possibilities of zero waste inside the Games’ fences. Early reports indicate the events went off with the zero waste goal met. Local event and conference organizers are working with the RMOW through Whistler2020 to create a “Sustainable Event Guide” which will ultimately strive for zero waste. Moreover, the latest version of VANOC’s annual sustainability performance report indicates that VANOC operations are currently achieving a 98 per cent waste diversion rate.

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