I was saddened to hear of the recent passing of Jack McGinnis.
Although I cannot claim to have known him well, having met him only on a few occasions, the impact of what he and his colleagues accomplished have impacted what I and many of us do every day.
I was in grade seven when Jack and others launched what would become the Blue Box program. By that that point I had already made up my mind that I wanted to have a career in the environment. It was pretty amorphous at that point. I think I thought I would like to be a vet and own an animal sanctuary.
I cannot claim to know what Jack and his colleagues were up to back then. They certainly lit a fire about how we think about waste and its management. Revolution may or may not be too strong of a description but his actions have led to all of us looking at waste a little differently. It led to a good portion of residential stream and the IC&I stream finding new homes. It led to the creation of new commodities from items that were once deemed as worthless. While the value of these commodities has at times been shaky, as the ebb and flow of market value plays with them, they are now clearly established.
These actions in turn led to a fixed gaze on organic wastes- starting first with backyard composting to today’s large scale composting of source separated organic wastes. Composting was my point of entry into the waste management industry back in the early 1990s. It was new and exciting like I imagine the launch of the Blue Box was. You felt like what you were doing could make some difference even when you stepped back and realized how unglamorous dealing with waste really is. It is fundamental though. We all generate it. It needs to be managed. We have the opportunity to do something better.
Jack and his colleagues opened a big door through which many have since walked. I feel a genuine debt of gratitude to Jack and others who opened these doors and set the stage for the waste diversion industry.
While I imagine Jack didn’t set out to revolutionize things and leave a legacy he did.
So I want to say two things.
Firstly, I want to say a simple thank-you. Thank-you for turning your passion into action. Thank-you for seeing this action through to the point where the ball was (and continues) rolling onwards.
Secondly, there is still much to be done. We need to challenge ourselves to turn our passions into actions, to try and make a difference where we can, and try to help to set the stage for the next generation who want to make a difference.