Last week, April 22, was the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, started in the USA.
Even that long ago people realized the consumerism path taken after WWII was maybe not the right path. By the first Earth Day, people were realizing we had become obsessed in satisfying ourselves, striving – no matter what the cost – to get what we wanted! More things. The word greedy was removed from our vocabulary. To show the wealth we accumulated we started throwing things away, until an era was named the Throw Away Generation.
That first Earth Day in 1970, people gathered together to expose the damage being done to the environment and began to unite and fight for nature. In 1990 the movement became global.
Waste has always been high in the destruction of nature so Canada started recycling in 1981, first in 1,500 homes in Kitchener, then across the country. Today we all feel good when we toss things in the blue box, we are doing out bit. Alas, for many, that it is all they do.
In Oxford County the goal is to have no waste for the dump in only four years. It makes sense, for we know that food and yard waste in our trash cans decomposes making methane gas which is 28 times more powerful than carbon dioxide and is one of top causes of our climate changes. So, when we will change?
Those in Tillsonburg who live in the NW quarter of the town recently received a letter from Oxford County’s waste management division. With great anticipation, believing these were going to be the changes, I read the letter. Nope! We are not going forward… we are moving backwards!
On May 4th, our section of town will now have recycling and garbage on Tuesdays, because we have a new contractor. Not a problem. However, the new contractor will NO LONGER ACCEPT plastic bags or styrofoam food and beverage containers in recycling. The rest of town will follow soon.
I contacted Oxford Waste Management, stunned and very disappointed, and Conor helped me through it. Light plastics like plastic bags, cheese slice wrappers, plastic wraps, etc. blow away, get caught in machinery, cause problems, and there is little market for that kind of recycled plastic.
“The costs of recycling all plastics and other materials in our garbage would be high and the new contractor was chosen because they were the most cost-effective option that combined good service with a reasonable cost.”
Time to research. What I discovered is: recycling has been a flop. On April 18, 2019 CBC posted a report by Dianne Saxe , former environmental commissioner of Ontario, who in 2016 noted the failure recycling: “For one thing, she explained, a lot of the plastic we put into blue bins is not easily recyclable – or not recyclable at all – because of increasingly complex mixes of material in plastic packaging. Canadians also put a lot of waste in their blue bins that belongs either in their garbage or organics bins. Upwards of 25 per cent of the waste put in recycling bins is also rendered non-recyclable by contamination – either by food waste or other materials. For example, paper that’s covered in food residue or that has shards of glass embedded in it, cannot be recycled.”
She also explained, “The blue box is useful, it’s important, but it’s small. The big things are driving, flying, the way we heat, and eating meat.
“This plague of buying things, using them for a little while and then throwing them out – it’s just a bad habit,” Saxe said.
Less than 11% of plastic is recycled in Canada and food styrofoam is too expensive to recycle because it is too light and porous and usually contaminated by food.
What can we do? You and I, businesses, municipalities, provinces and the federal government must get industry to stop making what can’t be recycled. Period. Contact the companies and tell them stop making non-recyclable containers and then call any store you shop asking them to stop using those containers and then you stop buying the products with a non-recyclable container. Hit them where it hurts, the pocket.
Many restaurants have already stopped using the styrofoam take out containers, all need to stop. Some use wax paper, cardboard or hard plastic containers that can be recycled and some hard-plastic containers can be used in grocery stores for meat and other food products instead of styrofoam and wrap.
The biggest thing to be changed is our attitudes. Shopping should not be a hobby, only a need, not even a want. How much happiness does buying things really give us when we soon tire of it, tossing it out before it is worn or broken. Think before you buy. Is it recyclable? Is there less packaging on another brand? Will this food end up in the dump not on the table? What is that car or truck’s carbon foot print? Stop wasting your money on food and things that are going to the dump.
Stop wasting time, start now.