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Habitat ‘Refundablers’ raise $80,000 a year

More than 20 volunteers process tens of thousands of cans and bottles each week
Volunteers at the Habitat Salish Soils site gathered Sept. 8 for a late summer barbecue. Board vice chair John Leech, kneeling on left, thanked all volunteers for their service and provided an update on recent developments with Habitat.

Sorting, counting and processing cans and bottles generates $80,000 a year to help Habitat for Humanity Sunshine Coast build the last home at The Village at Wilson Creek.

Volunteers show up for short shifts of a couple of hours at Salish Soils where Habitat has one operation and at a second site at Gibsons Bottle Depot.

More than 20 volunteers process tens of thousands of cans and bottles each week. “Rewarding, satisfying, putting something back, and fun,” is how volunteers usually describe the experience. A few of the current volunteers have been lending a hand since 2008.

Marj McDougall, who has been offering her service for over 10 years, was recognized for her contribution at a recent gathering of volunteers.

“I enjoy the camaraderie, the physicality of it, the ‘green’ side of it with less going into landfills and that the Sunshine Coast is the only affiliate of Habitat that has a recycling side,” McDougall said.

Board vice chair John Leech was on hand to extend thanks on behalf of Habitat and the many families that enjoy home ownership through the Habitat for Humanity housing program.

“Marj is an inspiration to our volunteers, offering her regular shift and for over five years handling the scheduling of volunteers at the Sechelt operation,” said Leech.

A relatively new volunteer, Linda Harris, has stepped in to handle scheduling.

“We find that some members of our community are unaware that we take any and all refundables, including plastic juice bottles and boxes,” said McDougall.

While there are different processes at each of the two Habitat sites, the volunteers sort all accepted containers, including pops cans, beer and alcohol cans, wine and alcohol bottles (both glass and plastic), plastic juice bottles and (tetra pack) boxes. Habitat does not currently accept milk containers, although word is that these, too, may be refundable in 2022.

Habitat currently has a call out for a few more volunteers who are able to contribute one to two hours a week at the Salish Soils site in Sechelt. Habitat could also use a bit more help at the ReStore, a major source of revenue for the organization.

“Our volunteers are the life-blood of our recycling operation,” said Leech.

For more information on volunteering with Habitat, send an email to