James F. Peggs is bracing himself for Christmas. The 10-year-old entrepreneur isn't taking a holiday vacation. In fact, this is busy season for his recycling business.
"I don't take a break ever!" says Peggs, known locally in Yellowknife as the Recycling Guy.
There is no curbside recycling service in the city of Yellowknife. Residents are tasked with sorting their own recyclables, then dropping them off at one of six recycling stations.
Peggs, who moved to N.W.T. from Saskatchewan in 2015, saw both a business opportunity and a way to help the earth in this service gap. He started asking neighbours if they'd like him to sort and deliver their recyclables for $10 a week.
"I think that Canadians should get better at recycling. The earth is really polluted."
At this time of year, Peggs says the plastic bins he supplies his customers are stuffed to the brim.
"There is definitely more bottles and cardboard. The cardboard is from gift packing and there is lots of wrapping paper as well," says Peggs, whose favourite wrapping paper is "the funny pages" in newspapers.
"Last year, I made Christmas tree ornaments out of wine bottles, cap Christmas trees and stars! I also made reindeer out of corks," he says. (His father gently nudges him to mention the adult helps he's had.)
If he finds interesting glass jars in the recycling, he saves them for his mom, who paints and etches patterns onto them to transform them into vases and gift holders.
Peggs's family traditions also include plans for future Christmases.
"After Christmas we take all the Christmas cards we got in the mail and cut different shapes out and turn them into our gift tags for the next year," says Peggs. "Even things like the mesh bag used on oranges can be reused for a bow or ribbon for gifts."
Peggs says he wishes more people would buy things without so much packaging, or opt to give an experience instead of a new item. "Like a concert ticket instead of buying toys," he explains.
In many ways, the pint-sized businessman is the embodiment of the socially responsible CEO. He cares about much more than his bottom line, as evidenced by his generous "giving jar" — a fund that benefits the Wildlife Rangers of Canada.
Recycling Guy profits have gone toward protecting bees and frogs, creatures Peggs selected himself.
"I've donated $500.00 donated so far, usually every couple months," says Peggs, proudly.
When asked what he would do if he could give one New Year's resolution to every child and adult in Canada, he goes back to basics. "Get better at reducing, reusing and recycling."
This might look like attempting to repair something that's broken, instead of just tossing it out.
"At least try to fix it!" says Peggs, who has given a second life to many things others have discarded.
In fact, many of the little ornaments he's made will go back to his clients houses as little gifts for the holidays. It's a perfect cycle.
-- With files and photos from Priscilla Hwang