CBC's The Hour recently completed their challenge for Canadians to do "One Million Acts of Green". Kudos to all participants. This challenge is still ongoing. For more information check it out here.

The new challenge for Canada, is to reach Two Million Acts of Green. According to the website, they are hoping to reach this new goal by summer. Many businesses and individuals are participating in this effort. Good luck to all. If interested in learning more click here.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Is that waste, garbage? No, wait it's WASTE ART!

My sister in California sends me many interesting emails; I recently received one pertaining to recycling. I had not spoken with her recently so she knew nothing about this blog. When I looked at the slide show, I knew I was on the right track.

A group called GIA -- Grupo de Impacto Ambiental created a powerpoint slideshow about an artist named Chris Jordan. It is titled Waste Art, and yes, it does pertain to recycling. It shows us how wasteful we have become. This is why we need to change our habits. Not just for ourselves but we need to set good examples for the youngsters in the next generation. After all, kids learn by doing what they see. If they witness adults doing the right thing, there's a greater likelihood that they will as well. This show can be viewed here.

Chris Jordan is an American photographic artist with an idea towards making a difference. It appears he is both appalled and awed by the amount of waste produced in the world today.

The photos that appear in the Waste Art show were taken from Jordan's exhibit Running the Numbers An American Self-Portrait which ran from 2006-2009.

In his words he describes this exhibit:
This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. Employing themes such as the near versus the far, and the one versus the many, I hope to raise some questions about the roles and responsibilities of the individual in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming

Some of the photos that intrigued me most are:
Depicts 200,000 packs of cigarettes, equal to the number of Americans who die from cigarette smoking every six months.

Blogs that I've located relating to this artist and the work he is currently doing -- Inhabitat, Clean the Air and Stalkmarket

Monday, January 26, 2009

It's not just at the grocery store when asked "Paper or Plastic?"

Just before paying at the grocery checkout, the cashier sometimes asks (depending on the store and their policies) "Paper or plastic?". When allowed this choice, I always chose paper! Why -- because its RECYCLABLE. You should ask yourself the same question when separating your recylcables. Those plastic bags are just garbage. So if you get paper it can go into your RED box.

RED boxes are for paper products. That means not only those notes that you don't want to hold on to anymore, but also those paper coffee cups you got from your last visit to Tim Horton's. The lids of course are garbage. These should be removed before you put the cup in the recycling bin. When you have multiple bins beside each other. Just pop the lid into garbage and the cup into the paper bin beside it. It's pretty easy, really! If you bought a cookie or a muffin from Tim's as well, that little paper bag can go into the RED box as well! The muffin wrapper should go to the garbage and if the bag is all sticky with frosting it's garbage.

Phone books, catalogues, magazines -- these are all RED box items. Have been for years. But egg cartons and other molded trays can be recycled. Better yet, if you received one of those trays with your order and you go there often, EWSWA suggests that you keep the tray and REUSE it. Just another one of the ways we can implement the 3Rs.

For a complete listing of RED BOX items visit EWSWA Red Box Recycling Guidelines.

Try to avoid plastic items as much as possible. I know it's hard to do because they are everywhere. At my house, it's like the plastic bags multiply in the closet. I try to reuse them for bathroom garbage or small garbage cans, but there are so many stores that use plastic bags nowadays that it's extremely difficult. The other problem with reusing plastic bags is that they sometimes harbour bacteria. This bacteria can then be transferred to other items. Sometimes even washing them doesn't get rid of the germs. See clip from CTV (November 27, 2008) about Mould and Bacteria. A durable cloth bag such as those sold by Canadian Tire or Zehrs is a practicle solution. It's reusable and washable.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Just what is recyclable these days???

When the recycling program began, individuals were limited to what was considered recyclable. It started with just a blue box, the next step lead to a red box. It will be interesting to see what follows. The program varies from area to area. Originally, I thought it was the same everywhere with the boxes, red and blue, but I soon found out that's not always the case. A friend in the Toronto area indicates they have a blue box and a gray box. She also informed me that some areas simply have a large gray box for everything. So I guess it depends on the individual companies in the region.

Back in the early 90s, Guelph implemented a program for recycling. No garbage at all. They had dry recyclables and wet recyclables (basically kitchen and bathroom waste). This meant tissues and all other materials that we would normally put in the garbage were being sorted and recycled. Views on the success of this program were varied. To the best of my knowledge it is still in operation today (I think mostly because of the cost that would be involved to change things back -- that's just my opinion), but I'm not certain if it has been implemented in any other areas and if it has, I don't know how long or how well it is working.

Fortunately for us, we don't do it that way. Our blue boxes began with cans and paper. Wow, has that changed. Today we can recycle many items. Cans, glass (only container glass), plastic bottles, empty aerosol cans, empty paint cans and many other items. The red box collection has grown to include cardboard and boxboard as well as magazines and catalogues.

NEW ITEMS to the BLUE BOX include:
This information was provided by the Essex Windsor Solid Waste Authority in the fall issue of EnviroTips. This newsletter is produced several times a year to keep residents up-to-date with the changes in the industry.

Polycoat beverage cartons: these include the milk cartons, juice cartons and the liquid egg cartons. Just rinse out, get rid of the cap and toss into your blue box.
Aluminum Foil: Sheet foil and aluminum trays and plates. They ask for the plates and trays to be rinsed and placed flat while the foil should be rinsed and rolled into a ball before being placed in the blue box.
Plastic tubs and lids: It's good to know that those plastic containers for margarine, chip dip, sour cream or cottage cheese are no longer garbage. Just rinse these out and put the tub and its lid into your blue box. It only takes a few minutes to rinse these items out with hot water.

Please note that the clear plastic containers, such as the containers that sandwiches or salads are often packaged in are not recyclable. These items are still considered garbage.

For a complete listing of allowable plastics visit the Essex Windsor Solid Waste Authority -- plastics information page.

Please keep the following information in mind when recycling, especially in public places. During a recent interview on AM800 with the spokesperson for EWSWA, a question was asked if all materials put into recycling at fast food restaurants are actually recycled. The answer was NO. The reason being, the restaurant determines if the materials are recycling or garbage. If individuals are not being conscientious about putting garbage in the waste container and recyclables in the proper container; when the mix appears to be more garbage that recycling -- it is garbage. So always keep that in mind. If it is dirty (full of food material) it will be garbage. But the place mat on the tray, unused napkins or paper packaging are all recyclable. It doesn't take that much effort to do it properly. Just a few minutes to sort it better.

If we want recycling to work, we all need to do our part. Believe me, I screw up when I'm out in public and often put recyclables into the garbage. At home, it is much easier. But I'm working on this and trying to be more careful when I dispose of the items.

My next topic will deal with the red box items and some of the things that we don't even think about recycling or reusing.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Why do I call this the "Green Rule"?

I don't know how many of today's generation are familiar with the song "School Days", but it mentions the three Rs as part of the Golden Rule. Since it pertained to school, it was Reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic. This was the standard for learning or so it seemed at the time. Many years have passed and as I mentioned in my previous post, we have because a society that does not think twice about discarding items. We therefore needed a new rule...The Green Rule. The 3Rs of recycling.

While discussing this situation with my husband, I asked what has changed so much from when we were kids. The obvious changes which weren't discussed include the proliferation of fast food restaurants. I was in high school when the MacDonalds on Huron Line opened. It was take out only -- no place to sit and eat. From that point in the early 1970s, it was one fast food restaurant after the other. Today, it is unusual to be at home for all of your meals in one week. Yet when we were younger that was the way it was. Mom cooked all the time, baked desserts -- basically she did it all. It doesn't seem to happen that way in this day and age. There is too much to do and convenience takes precedence over everything else. Unfortunately, when there is convenience, there is waste.

Now, as current generations see the error of the ways of the last few decades, it becomes increasingly obvious that things need to change. As organizations and people rally together to improve the state of our earth (caused by many years of disregard) -- the new catch word has become GREEN. The implication is that green is good. Anything that you do for the environment that is good will be considered green. Kind of reminds you of those veggies that you didn't want eat, you remember the green ones, spinach, broccoli or brussel sprouts -- they are good for you but many kids didn't like the thought of eating something green. Sometimes we have to do things we don't like because it's for the greater good.

Recycling was born. Their slogan Reduce, Reuse and Recycle is common sense but how can it be applied to such hectic lives. Before the past few decades, reducing waste did not appear as necessary as it seems to be today. People definitely reused things in the past. There was little waste with food and once something had outgrown its usefulness with one family it often was passed on to another family -- remember the term hand-me-downs. When something was finally discarded, it was because it was broken and could not be fixed not just because it needed to be replaced. Don't get me wrong, many people still practice the basics of these principles but many others don't consider it when they get their garbage together.

Perhaps this careless disregard came from the prosperity that was realized after the second world war. I recently saw an article that had been published about 4 or 5 years ago by the Canadian government honouring the veterans of previous wars. It was a short article and it was about how people recycled during the war. This was done out of necessity but none the less, they did it. Why can't we do the same? The thing is we can. We have been and we will endeavour to continue. Things are improving. More and more items are becoming recyclable and new uses are being found for their products. The new horizon does indeed look green; but only if everyone cooperates and does their part. It is not impossible. It is attainable.

My next post will include specifics about the products that are currently being recycled. There are new additions to the list of items and it continues to grow. I will include items recently included in the last edition of the EWSWA newsletter. 'Til then, happy recycling!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The 3Rs

The most important item concerning our future is Recycling. Over the last several decades, society has become more and more wasteful. Everything is disposable. In many instances, the attitude is -- if we don't need it anymore, we throw it away. Landfills have become full; areas to locate landfills are becoming difficult to obtain because of the not in my backyard attitude.

Whether we like it or not, we need to become more conscientious about what we do with our waste. Recycling programs have become prominent and are continuously making advancements in recycling new materials. Individuals need to become more familiar with the 3Rs. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

This blog is my way of helping a new generation develop good recycling habits and also a way to help those of previous generations change their ways. After all, the acts of one affect everybody.

Future posts will include information about items that are recyclable today. Links to local organizations and government organizations devoted to recycling will be provided and helpful hints will be given to assist in preparing items for recycling at home.

The logo above is one commonly used by the Essex Windsor Solid Waste Authority.