History of S.E.N.S.
SENS has been active in B.C. for over 35 years, beginning as a volunteer group in 1971 when we initiated a glass recycling pilot study. In 1982, we became a registered society under the name "The North Okanagan Recycling Society". Later we changed our name to "North Okanagan Waste Stewardship Society", because residents confused NORS with NORD, the North Okanagan Regional District. The name change to "Sustainable Environment Network Society" reflects our broader range of activities promoting environmental care. SENS’ purpose is to advocate solutions to environmental problems and provide a healthy, sustainable future for our community. Its capacity to strengthen the community's environmental sustainability has been proven through a variety of initiatives, including:
- establishing and successfully running one of the first regional recycling programs in BC. This program was later privatized and then sold to the Regional District.
- developing and implementing environmental education initiatives for the local school districts, including a classroom blue box recycling program still operating today.
- educating the community about recycling and environmental issues via a widely distributed newsletter, letters to local papers and speakers brought in for general meetings and public forums.
- establishing, through the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan, an Environmental Trust Fund for possible scholarships or future initiatives.
- working on Waste Management policy development in conjunction with the North Okanagan Regional District prior to implementation of the Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) for our area in 1995. A member of our Society presently sits on the SWMP Committee as a public voting representative.
- engaging in public education which resulted in SWMP deciding to recycle much solid waste instead of using incineration, which had been the plan.
- establishing a fall leaf exchange event to reduce landfill waste and encourage home composting and leaf use instead of of chemical fertilizers. The program is now part of the city's advertising for garden leaf removal. Waste haulers collect much less, due to private citizens taking a more responsible approach to their gardening practices.
- developing and coordinating an organic community garden allotment program which linked more than 30 gardeners with garden plots owned by other individuals in the community.
- with the support of a $120,000 Human Resources Development Canada Grant, developing and coordinating a "Growing Hope and Skills Program" to train 12 unemployed youth about sustainable gardening, composting and environmental practices.
- bringing in speakers on a variety of sustainable environment topics every year (air quality, health effects of pesticides, alternatives to lawn/yard chemicals, sustainable architecture, global climate change and future possibilities with alternative energy).
- In November 2003, SENS organized a Forum on Water entitled: “Water – a Myth of Abundance?” that was held at OUC. Jim Hamilton was moderator and guest speakers were Al Cotsworth, Dale Danallanko, Hugh Hamilton and Sharon Mackenzie. Among the many issues raised were the quality of the water we drink, the effects of recycling grey water, and whether enough clean water will be available in the future.
- INFLUENCING CITY HALL – Encouraging the City of Vernon to accept and work with an Environmental Advisory Committee composed of members from several non-profit environmental groups.
- ALTERNATIVE ENERGIES - Obtaining funding (over $20,000 so far) from several granting institutions to install and provide hands-on education about alternative energies (solar, wind, micro-hydro) at the local Okanagan Science Centre (OSC) and also to educate the public about cosmetic pesticides and alternatives at the OSC via interactive games and display materials.
- BANNING COSMETIC PESTICIDES - Via letters, petitions and speaking at various clubs in town, SENS is raising the awareness of the public about pesticides and children's health. We are asking for a ban on the use of cosmetic pesticides on public green spaces. Numerous other Canadian communities have already done so and we hope that Vernon will agree to follow suit.
- CHANGING LANES ... See our Projects