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Environmental theme takes centre stage

Through my Canada World Youth (CWY) exchange, our environmental theme has taken centre stage as we live our lives in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Qué.

Through my Canada World Youth (CWY) exchange, our environmental theme has taken centre stage as we live our lives in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Qué.

As each day goes on during our volunteer projects, our experience is constantly demanding more and more as we strive to live as eco-friendly citizens.

Salaberry-de-Valleyfield is an environmentally-conscious municipality. It has taken on new initiatives to create an eco-friendly community through education and the development of programs to make it easy for the average citizen to participate and make their positive mark on the environment.

One program that especially makes its impact on the ground is the Escouade Verte also known as the Green Squad. It is set up through returning university students during the summer months and provides employment opportunities for youth. The Green Squad's mission is to educate residents on recycling, pesticide use, composting, and water preservation. The group takes appointments with interested citizens wanting to know how they can implement best practices in their home and garden. There is also another team that does education throughout the community, while holding presentations at festivals and education at the elementary school level. These types of programs are the most practical as it starts with education at the most basic level and allows access to resources for residents.

We can make a difference one step at a time as we strive to incorporate smart environmental thinking into our daily lives. Timothée, my counterpart from Bénin, was the first to point out to our host family that they needed a compost for organic waste. We would notice each night while preparing dinner how much organic waste was thrown out into the garbage and headed straight to the local waste management site. Our host family has now pledged to have a compost by the time we finish our Canadian stage of the program. It's just a simple move in the right direction and one that most host families have now made since their involvement with CWY.

We also encouraged our host family to install bottles of water into the reservoir of their over-consuming toilets to displace water usage. Old toilets can flush as much as 20 litres of fresh water down the drain.

Communities on the Sunshine Coast need to take a step further and embrace the environment throughout our daily lives. There needs to be a growing involvement with the municipalities to create the link between local government and residents as we develop high tier environmental programs that work best for the Coast. Let us work together to implement a higher standard of environmental awareness within our neighbourhood.

For more information on my exchange follow me at www.nestman.ca.

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