Drive a few minutes out of Prince Rupert to the recycling depot on a Tuesday or Friday, and you’re likely to find nine-year-old Alexander Fast with a load of recyclables. For the past five weeks, the fourth grader has made the trip out to Kaien Road at least twice a week — sometimes more.
Many would think there’s no way one kid has that much to recycle — and he doesn’t. Although he’s not old enough to drive (his mom, Charlene, helps with that part), Fast runs his own recycling program in Rupert.
In the North Coast city, there is no curbside recycling pick-up, much to the chagrin of residents. For some, that means collecting enough recyclables to make the trip out, hopefully, while the depot is open. For others, it means forgoing recycling altogether.
When Fast’s mom was brainstorming ways to keep her youngest son busy, Alexander suggested they start a pick-up and drop-off service by donation. The mother-and-son duo work together, although Alexander runs the show. Charlene communicates with people interested in pick-ups on Facebook, and Alexander decides the schedule.
“I just go around getting recycling,” Alexander said quietly. What inspired him? He wants to “keep the Earth clean so it won’t look bad. It looks better when it’s clean.”
Alexander has always been on the move. Born in Masset, Fast moved to Prince Rupert when he was still in diapers. At two years old, he helped pack his own toys for the ferry ride to his new home.
When asked what his favourite part about Prince Rupert is, he says, simply, “the waterfront.” It’s where he goes to skip rocks — when he has the time. His love of nature, Alexander said, is part of why he likes recycling.
Now only five weeks in, Alexander has 10 regulars on his recycling route. With the donations people give him, the nine-year-old is saving up. For his 10th birthday next month, he’s getting his very own puppy. The money will help him buy toys and take care of his new furry friend.
Besides his canine companion, Alexander is keeping his earnings in his savings account. He already has an education account open, another for savings and one for spending. He’s learning how to manage his own finances. One day, he’d like to have his own business, like his father, although Alexander isn’t sure yet what it’ll be.
His dad, Wayne Fast, owns Peace of Mind Painting in Prince Rupert. Alexander has always lent a helping hand, usually holding a paintbrush. Charlene thinks Alexander gets his entrepreneurial spirit from his dad.
When he’s not doing his recycling route, at school or doing homework, Fast is playing soccer, running track and field and high jump. He’s been in karate for a year, and has earned three stripes. Next, he’ll earn his yellow belt, but until then, Fast’s favourite part is learning how to do front flips on the mat. In other words, he’s a busy kid.
When Alexander was six years old, he was known to be out of bed by 6 a.m., trying to get his mom up for a run before school. Lately, he’s started sleeping in until 7 a.m.
The youngest of four kids — there’s Chasedy, 20, Tyson is 16 and Trenton is 11 — Alexander is close with his siblings. He especially looks up to Tyson, and the feeling is mutual.
“His brother is pretty proud of him. He’ll say, ‘I’m so darn proud of that kid’,” their mom said.
Hearing this, Alexander’s signature smile stretches across his face. A boy of few words, his smile speaks for him.
The main part of recycling, aside from doing his part to save the planet, “is helping other people who can’t get out to the recycling depot because they don’t have a vehicle, or they’re elders, or some people just don’t have the time,” his mom said.
The very first time Alexander went to pick up someone’s recycling, the woman warned him ahead of time that she had a lot to recycle — the one pick-up filled the whole van. But she was thankful that someone could help.
“He’s always like, ‘I’ll get it, Mom.’ So I basically just have to get out and hold open the door for him, and drive,” Charlene said with a laugh.
“I think he looks forward to it now, on Tuesdays and Fridays, because he’s always got a smile on his face. ‘Don’t forget, it’s recycling day!’”