By Amal Alhomsi
There Must be a Balance
anff sets the tone to what beauty means,” twenty-two-year-old Banffite, Luna Kawano, spoke nostalgically of her childhood in Banff. She currently resides in Waterloo, ON. where she earned a degree in Knowledge Integration, an interdisciplinary program that aims to synthesize disciplines in order to come up with holistic approaches and solutions. With a background in engineering, an interest in business, and a rooted love for the environment, Luna wanted to create an environmental initiative for her hometown as part of her capstone project. After reading the entire document of the Banff environmental plan, an idea formed in her mind.
Banff Isn’t Disposable (BID) was launched in the summer of 2021 with the goal to “lessen our impact on the environment and preserve our beautiful town for future generations.” Although reusable containers have been implemented in bustling metropolises such as Vancouver and New York, the situation in Banff is different. Zero waste programs are often targeted towards residents who are eager to keep heaps of single-use plastic off their streets. In Banff, however, most of the foot traffic coming into the valley is transient. “It’s a town more convenient for tourists than the residents,” Luna sighed, “we’re always prioritizing businesses, and the town is becoming less and less local.” Luna, of course, is not wrong. Banff is a town where bear keychains and beavertails are easier to find than first aid kits, but it is also a town that can only exist because of such commodities. This is Banff’s hamartia, that what keeps it alive is also what’s killing it. “There has to be a balance,” Luna insisted, and she’s hoping that her BID program is a step towards that balance.
The project was well received by businesses in town who are already working to implement greener practices, and BID containers can now be found at locations such as Nourish Bistro, Wild Flour, Chilli’s, and others. But it takes more than a one-sided effort for BID to work. A collaboration between the Town of Banff, the hospitality sector, and visitors must be achieved. Luna brilliantly suggested marketing reusables as part of Banff's culture, “People come here for an experience, and they expect something different. So make reusables part of that experience. Let visitors know that this is how we do things here, and people would get in board.” Luna admits that BID, compared to industrial waste management, does not have as much of an environmental impact, but she believes that it is a “visible solution.” People are often oblivious of the immense work done to get rid of their waste. Programs like BID function as a reminder that the images of plastic-stuffed seagulls we see on the internet are the result of our individual actions. They alert us to the dire necessity to change our ways. BID is one of the many steps Banff is taking towards a zero-waste goal. For more information on what the town is doing, and how you can contribute, take a look at Banff's Master Environmental plan.