Letter to the Editor

Binging and purging Our territory is rich. We, as individuals have spending power that is incomprehensible to the vast majority of people on this…

Binging and purging

Our territory is rich. We, as individuals have spending power that is incomprehensible to the vast majority of people on this earth.

We Yukoners consume much more than we produce, this is true for food, fuel and electronics.

The result is that we are importing wastefully; the average electronic item has a lifetime of less than three years before it is disposed of. This rate of consumption is not counterbalanced with an effective disposal strategy.

Electronics are loaded with heavy metals, potential carcinogens and non-biodegradable plastics. Despite the convenience of “disposable” electronics, we must realize that convenience comes with a very real, yet easily ignored environmental cost.

Raven Recycling set a precedent in the late 1980s by lobbying the Yukon government to levy a deposit for cans and bottles.

In the late 1990s, the Yukon government created a tire tax, whereby all new car and truck tires sold in the Yukon came with a $5 processing fee.

Imagine, now, an electronics tax.

What costs need to be covered to account for the potential environmental degradation caused by each new cellphone, computer, stereo or television?

What measure can be taken to reduce our rate of consumption?

It may be logical to charge by weight.

The cost to ship a television to a responsible recycling facility could be as high as $50, depending on the size of the television, the distance to the recycling facility and the bulk price and method of shipment.

How much electricity might each gadget consume in its lifetime, and what percentage of electricity generated in the Yukon comes from non-renewable fossil fuel?

Money from an electronics tax could pay, not only for responsible processing of the electronics, but also to fund projects that offset environmental degradation caused by the electronic items.

Money could be used to make electronics repair cheaper, so that rather than buying something new if an electronic gadget were to break down, a person could have their electronic item repaired at a comparable price.

Each movement has its critics and the critics of this idea could have some of the following arguments:

If we were to levy an electronics deposit, what would stop people from ordering electronics from outside the territory to bypass the electronics deposit?

Would a slowdown of technological consumerism leave Yukoners behind the times?

How much of an electronics tax would be eaten up by a bureaucracy created to govern it?

How would businesses that specialize in the retail of low-quality, low-price electronics fare when an environmental tax raises the price of their goods?

Every concerned member of the general public and governing body, whether for or against the idea of an electronics tax, should take a look at the decaying mass of obsolete computers, printers, fax machines, copiers, telephones and televisions bursting out of the Computers for Schools warehouse.

They should talk to a Raven Recycling employee and they should take a look in their own garage, attic or closet.

We have a problem and unless we act it will only grow.

 Please give me any feedback you can; contact sprucegum@gmail.com.

Jade Lacosse

Whitehorse

International Volunteer Day

International Volunteer Day takes place on December 5th each year and is officially recognized by the United Nations.

It is a day on which volunteers in all countries are celebrated for their contributions and dedication.

Volunteers come from all walks of life, representing all ages and demographics. 

They work to improve the lives of their neighbours and, in return, enhance their own.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of our communities, providing us with a sense of connectedness and wellbeing.

Volunteering allows us to give of ourselves, share our wealth and express our human values of community and caring while finding solutions to shared challenges.

Across Canada, there are more than 12 million people donating their time and talents.

The approximately 1.9 billion hours of volunteer time contributed in 2004 represents the equivalent of just over 1 million full-time year-round jobs (National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating, June 2004).

Here in the northern BC & Yukon region, the Canadian Red Cross benefits from the skill and expertise of a core group of approximately 150 volunteers.

This number swells dramatically during disasters or times of crisis.

Volunteers organize, lead, educate, mentor and train. They donate, give, respond, repair, communicate, befriend and lend a helping hand.

They are the young and the old and the in-between, and they are everywhere — across the North, across the nation and around the world.

I encourage all your readers to join with us to celebrate and pay tribute to all volunteers on International Volunteer Day.

Becky Row, regional director, Northern BC & Yukon Region Canadian Red Cross