Meet Bearnice – recycling advocate, social media influencer, actor

From the verdant rainforest of the Pacific Northwest, Recycle BC is thrilled to welcome Bearnice to the team. A recycling advocate and nature enthusiast, Bearnice is also one of the brightest up-and-coming stars in Hollywood North. Just off a successful turn as our spokesbear in our Nature Notices campaign, Bearnice is focusing her talent for storytelling to Recycle BC’s social media and taking over the accounts for one week. The goal? Encourage even more BC residents to recycle right and prepare for the holiday season.

Get to know Bearnice a bit more in the interview below – then read her Q&A.

Recycle BC: Bearnice – it’s so nice to chat before your Recycle BC social media take over!
Bearnice: Thank you it’s lovely to be here – on Zoom that is!

Recycle BC: Bearnice, now that everyone’s watched your intro video [posted under this Q&A] what can we expect from your social media take over?
Bearnice: I’m glad you asked because I want to be clear – this won’t be any old social media take over. I want to really connect with the Recycle BC community. There are dedicated recyclers across this province and there’s also lots of work to be done!

Recycle BC: When you say you want to connect with the community and the people – what does that look like?
Bearnice: My expertise in keeping our environment – my habitat – clean is what I’ve learned from years of making my home in the deep forests of British Columbia. My talent, however, is my people skills. I’m friendly, approachable, and I genuinely want to help but I need your questions. Repeat: I need questions to answer! I want to hear about recycling experiences so I can help enhance the knowledge people already have.

Recycle BC: Wow it sounds like you’re ready to hit the ground running!
Bearnice: Well, I’m passionate about my work and the environment. No apologies.

Recycle BC: How can residents send in their questions?
Bearnice: I’ll be taking over the Recycle BC social media profiles starting today so comment under any of my posts, photos, tweets, videos with your questions. I’ll be working on a blog post this week and sharing it here (where you’re reading this interview!) on Friday.

Recycle BC: That’s great, we’re looking forward to reading!
Bearnice: It’s my pleasure. The hustle and bustle of working in the television industry is glamourous but, for me, the real work is what I can do for my community.

Catch up with Bearnice this week on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

“When you recycle, nature notices.” That was the tagline for the commercial I was in and I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s true! Nature does notice and we’re excited to see so many BC residents rinsing their containers, sorting correctly, and recycling across the province. Behind the scenes, recycling collection and post-collection crews are also thankful for your efforts which contribute to a successful recycling system. And speaking of behind the scenes – how about these photos? #SetLife!

Bearnice standing in a window with a fan taking a selfie      Bearnice sitting on a sofa waiting for the next take on set

Bearnice standing on set waiting for the director to call action      Bearnice with her paws on the window looking into the house

Ask Bearnice!

When Recycle BC reached out to work together, I said connecting with fellow recyclers across the province was my goal. As a bear, it can be difficult to connect with people without them running in the other direction. Thankfully, Recycle BC has a wonderful online community filled with questions for me to dig into! Here are few answers to your questions with my Bearnice flair:

Where do we find info on what can be recycled?

Even as a dedicated recycler, I can admit there’s a lot of information out there and some days it can feel overwhelming. My pro-tip? Download the Recycle BC app. You can search their accepted material list, find depot locations, and check your schedule if you receive collection from Recycle BC.

“But Bearnice, what if I can’t find the material I’m looking for?” Let me tell you, I hear you! You wouldn’t believe some of the things I find when I’m out on recycling patrol. For example, last week I spotted windshield wipers at the side of the road and when I searched the Recycle BC material list, I didn’t find them. At first, I was confused but then I remembered that Recycle BC collects residential packaging and paper. Not to worry – I gave the Recycling Council of BC a quick call and they were able to help me out. They’re great for recycling questions when it’s not packaging and paper-related!

Should we remove lids on glass jars before putting them in our glass bins or taking them to the depot?

Yes, please! That would be very helpful. Lids from glass jars can be included in your blue bin or container recycling.

Are wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows recyclable?

This is a great and timely question! Wrapping gifts is always a little tricky for me (bear paws, you know) but when it’s time to wrap gifts, I use all-paper wrap because it can be recycled after use. Tissue paper used to fill gift bags can also be included, as well as paper gift bags, in your paper recycling bag or bin.

Wrapping paper with glitter, foil, or holographic material, isn’t accepted for recycling because of the plastic used in those materials. Please also remove or reuse ribbons and bows.

The best way to keep it simple it is to keep it paper. That way you can take the worry out of wrapping and just enjoy gift-giving!

Can I recycle Tetra Paks?

Yes, Tetra Paks are recyclable! You can include them in your blue box or cart with other mixed containers – super easy!

Can I recycle take-out packaging that is labelled “made with cornstarch,” biodegradable, or compostable?

Much like the glittery or shiny wrapping paper I mentioned earlier, plastic packaging labelled this way is not accepted for recycling. The organic material used to make the packaging causes contamination. Recycle BC posted a great guide to common take-out packaging on their blog – check it out and bookmark it for your next night ordering in.

What happens to the plastic we recycle?

I’m glad I got this question because I know it’s on the mind of many folks (and bears) in BC. We often see stories in the news about how a lot of plastic in Canada isn’t recycled. Plastic waste is a global issue, but we need to remember that our actions at home have a global impact like ripples in a pond. (Did you like that? I’m so poetic sometimes.)

When I asked the team at Recycle BC about the plastic collected in their program, I found out that 98% of it is recycled right here in BC. Their end market – that’s where they recycle the plastic – is in the Lower Mainland and the plastic is recycled into raw material, like pellets, so it can be used to make new packaging or products.

If you look at the numbers Recycle BC posts in their annual reports, you can see that 187,228 tonnes, or over 90%, of collected material were managed by recycling in 2019. Now you might say, “OK, Bearnice, that’s great but what about plastic specifically?” Well friends, 46% of plastic supplied to BC residents is collected as part of the Recycle BC program from residents for recycling which means we still have some work to do to make sure we put our plastic packaging in our recycling bins or return it to the depot  – but we can also be proud of that hard work we are doing  sorting material, setting it out for collection, and returning it depots. Let’s work together and bump up that percentage!

My official social take-over may be winding up this week but my new friends at Recycle BC are always around to take your questions and talk recycling in BC. I’m glad we could connect this way and who knows – maybe you’ll see a little more Bearnice in 2021!