The London Green Directory!
The range of topics in this section is broad because of the scope of this environmental concern. We know nature does not create waste yet Canadians are among the most wasteful societies in the world. As a result, our landfill sites continue to grow as new ones are discussed. The solution to the waste problem then, begins at home, through our personal actions and in our communities.
What is an ecological footprint?
Today, the majority of countries in the world (more than 80%) have ecological deficits, using more resources than ecosystems can regenerate. This deficit is referred to as a global ecological overshoot. Since the 1970s, this annual demand has exceeded what the Earth regenerates each year.
An ecological footprint is a resource accounting tool that helps countries understand their ecological budget and gives them the data necessary to manage resources better to secure their future. An ecological footprint can identify the demands humans place on nature. It measures what we consume from nature, for individuals, organizations, cities, regions, nations or humanity as a whole. It shows how much biologically productive land and water we occupy to produce all the resources we consume and to absorb our waste.
Where is Canada at?
According to recent (2017) international comparisons from the World Atlas, Canada is among the top 10 countries with the largest ecological footprints in the world with a footprint of 7.01 gha/person. Canada’s environmental capacity to regenerate resources (biocapacity) in 2014 was 14.6 global hectares per person, meaning our biocapacity exceeds our footprint of land and sea use throughout the world to support each Canadian given our current lifestyle. In a 2004 Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM) report, commissioned to develop the first estimates contributing to FCM’s Quality of Life Indicators reporting system, it was found that municipalities with higher footprints also had higher residential incomes. While the majority of municipalities in this study fell within 6% either below or above the Canadian average ecological footprint of 7.25 hectares at the time, York (114%), Ottawa (119%), Halton RM (123%), Edmonton (130%), and Calgary (136%) had ecological footprints that were at least 10% greater than the Canadian average.
The planet’s biological productive capacity (biocapacity) is approximately 1.9 hectares (4.7 acres) per person. Globally, we use up to 2.2 hectares per person. Thus, we are living beyond the planet’s biocapacity to sustain us by 15%, a deficit of 0.3 hectares (1 acre) per person.
What about London’s footprint?
The FCM report (2004) listed London’s ecological footprint at 6.96 hectares per person at the time. To find out your own personal Ecological Footprint, visit https://app.projectneutral.org/.
Source: “Ecological Footprints of Canadian Regions and Municipalities” September 2004. Found at http://www.anielski.com/Documents/EFA%20Report%20FINAL%20Feb%202.pdf
In Canada, the responsibility for managing and reducing waste is shared among federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments. Canadians being among the largest waste producers per capita on the planet, the amount of food wasted each year is particularly staggering. In Canada, about $31 billion worth of food is wasted annually. This equates to about $868 worth of food wasted per person per year. Consumers are responsible for the largest share of food waste, at approximately 47%. The remaining food waste is generated along the supply chain, where food is grown, processed, transported and sold.
The federal government controls international and interprovincial movements of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material, as well as identifying best practices to minimize possible toxic pollution from the management of waste. Globally it is interested in addressing food loss and waste. A North American Initiative on Food Waste Reduction and Recovery explores opportunities to reduce avoidable waste. Residential food waste falls under various federal initiatives such as the Sustainable Development Strategy to support climate change given the methane emissions with respect to agricultural systems, transboundary movement of hazardous waste and recyclables, and toxic releases. In November 2018, the federal government launched an international Ocean Plastics Charter to address plastics pollution, next step being a Canada- wide zero-plastic-waste strategy. In 2014, every Canadian threw away on average 706 kg of waste. Zero plastics will expect to reduce this number by 30% per person.by 2030, 50% by 2040 and less greenhouse gas emissions by a projected 15 million tonnes.
Provinces and territorial authorities establish waste reduction policies and programs, and approve and monitor waste management operations such as recycling centres, landfills and hazardous waste facilities. Discarded organics are a significant source of greenhouse gas pollution, representing 5% of Ontario’s total emissions. Existing provincial programs include: the Blue Box Program, the municipal Hazardous or Special Waste Program, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Program and the Used Tires Program. The province also has a Deposit Return Program for beverage and alcohol containers.
The Food and Organic Waste Framework’s Action Plan and Policy Statement, April 30, 2018, includes policy statements and targets directing municipalities and all private businesses to take actions. The Waste-Free Ontario Act (2016) and Waste-Free Ontario: Building the Circular Economy Act require producers to take full responsibility for recovering resources and reducing waste associated with their products and packaging. and reintegrate it into the production stream. TH Ontario government has also introduced a regulation requiring producers to collect and safety manage the full life-cycle of their electrical and electronic equipment, such as cell phones, computers, printers and gaming equipment. The regulation, enforceable as of January 1, 2021. also promotes the reuse and refurbishment of products so they can be resold.
Up to 50% of food waste is avoidable. Ontario residents generate 3.7 million tonnes of organic waste every year. It is estimated more than 2 million tonnes of it goes to landfill. In breaking down, it creates methane, a greenhouse gas, 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.Without change, Ontario will need 16 new or expanded landfills by 2050. That’s why we must take action to reduce the amount of food and organic waste we generate.
In London, more than a tonne of waste is produced per person each year. This includes waste generated at home as well as the workplace. Much is diverted through reduction, reuse, recycling of materials such as scrap metal and electronics and the Blue Box, composting, for instance leaf and yard materials, and biogas programs. The remainder goes to the City’s W12A landfill site. There is also a small amount of waste from outside of London delivered to our landfill, while some of London’s business waste is taken to landfills outside of the city for disposal. London’s landfill is expected to reach capacity by 2024 without interventions..
Thus in 2018, the City developed a long-term Residual Waste Disposal Strategy, a plan to manage residual waste (material that goes to landfill) that cannot be diverted and requires a mandatory Environmental Assessment (EA) approved by Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, and Cabinet. This plan expects to expand the W12A landfill site and find solutions to manage residual waste until 2050 (25 years beyond the current approved capacity of the landfill). Other smaller municipalities may be required to use the site as well given certain limits. Overall, London is committed to increasing its current residential (household) waste diversion rate to 60% by 2022, from the 2018 rate of 45%.
A companion Resource Recovery Strategy involves a plan to maximize waste reduction, reuse, recycling, and resource recovery in an economically and environmentally responsible manner. It identifies new, emerging and next generation technologies including green bin as well as areas to reduce or maintain current costs of City programs; and to align with the province’s focus.
TAKING PERSONAL ACTION
In 2018, TREA started visiting residents in our neighbourhoods to discuss personal planning for further waste reduction. Please visit our website at https://www.trea.ca/waste-free/ to participate with our waste reduction survey, waste guide and 30 day waste reduction challenge We also introduced a program for elementary schools including a survey, activity book, and curriculum materials in the spring of 2021 as another option to visit neighbourhoods.
During 2019 and 2020 TREA helped create a foundation for a tool lending library (an option to reduce purchase of seldom used tools and items going to landfill), now housed and facilitated by Reimagine Co alongside their waste free grocery and community hub space. We expect to continue to promote waste free in the foreseeable future. We welcome your participation.
“The whole idea is don’t use things that you only use once and throw away. Disposability is an attitude, it’s not a necessity.” – David Suzuki
Ask about alternative type cleaning recipes, as well as composting, recycling of home renovation waste, grass recycling and other topics as it pertains to the provincial environmental ministry at 135 St. Clair Avenue W., Toronto, ON M4V 1P5. Or call 1-800-565-4923 or make inquiries through their provincial information website at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/ministry-environment-conservation-parks.
Household Waste Disposal in London
London’s Household Special Waste Depot is located at the W12A landfill – 3502 Manning Drive. The Depot is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Check your City waste calendar as some of these items are taken at local businesses as well. Items accepted by the City include materials such as:
— Corrosives such as battery acids, drain cleaners
— Flammable products such as lighter fluid, turpentine, gasoline,
— Toxins – poisons, bleach, medications, pesticides, paints, cleaning fluids
— Batteries – car batteries, flashlight and other small types
— Tires, used oil, glues, nail polish and remover, cooking oils/grease, smoke detectors
— Fluorescent tubes and bulbs
— Scrap metal, propane tanks
Accepted materials are transported off-site for subsequent disposal or, recycling. For details – call the City of London Public Service and Solid Waste Management Division – (519) 661-5803 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Electronics/e-waste are accepted at W12A and the City’s EnviroDepots. This includes: computers, printers, radios, stereos, cameras, gaming consoles, televisions, computer monitors, cell phones, remote control toys, etc. Please note the City does not pick up electronics with your residential garbage collection.
London has EnviroDepots at 28 Clarke Road (s), 1450 Oxford Street (w) and Try Recycling at 21462 Clarke Road (n). For hours, seasons and materials collected, check your waste calendar or visit https://www.london.ca/residents/Garbage-Recycling/Recycling/Pages/Depots.aspx.
Stepping Lightly on the Earth
“The only long-term solution to keeping our air and water clean and our homes safe is waste reduction. Householders, like industries, must learn to live without many of the ‘wonder’ products invented in the last 50 years. But when we remember that these products are identical to the substances that poison our air and water, we can readily commit ourselves to making more responsible choices.” Greenpeace, Toronto.
The aisles of grocery stores, hardware stores and drugstores contain a large range of cleaning products. As many are targeted for a specific use, it is easy to acquire a collection of products in your home. These cleaners often contain harmful substances that will eventually end up in rivers and lakes. In order to reduce packaging and ensure minimal impact on the environment, we recommend using the homemade cleaners suggested next. If your workplace asks for commercial cleaners, encourage them to look at several options, otherwise look for multi-purpose, concentrated products with minimal packaging. Although many products are listed as phosphate-free, be aware that, besides phosphate, bleaches and enzymes can cause pollution of water sources.
Household cleaners do not have to poison lakes and streams and threaten our health. Environmentally responsible alternatives to harmful commercial products can certainly be made from major ingredients such as washing soda, vinegar, pure soap powder and baking soda.
Specific cleaning solutions
— All purpose metal cleaner – take 3 Tbsp of diatomaceous earth, 3 Tbsp of baking soda and enough lemon juice to make a paste – rub paste gently into metal and water rinse
— All purpose cleaner – use ½ cup of vinegar and ¼ cup of baking soda and mix it with 2 liters of water. Can be used for cleaning water deposit stains on shower panels, bathroom chrome fixtures, windows, bathroom mirrors etc.
— Aluminium – put 2 or 3 lemon halves or 1 grapefruit cut four ways in a pan with water – add tarnished utensils and place on stove at low heat for about 1 hour
— Carpet freshener – sprinkle area with baking soda, then vacuum
— Chrome – make a paste of 3 Tbsp baking soda and water – clean and rinse or rub with a pencil eraser or steel wool
— Gold – rub a paste of 2 Tbsp baking soda and water with a sponge or cloth on the gold – rinse, polish dry
— Drain cleaner — pour ½ cup of baking soda, then ½ cup of vinegar down the drain. After 15 minutes, pour boiling water down the drain. Note, only use this method with metal plumbing; and do not try this method after using a commercial drain cleaner
— Rugs and upholstery – mix together 6 Tbsp soap powder, 2 cups boiling water, 2 Tbsp borax and let cool – shake vigorously – use only the suds and apply with brush or damp cloth (test a hidden area first for colour)
— Used paint brushes – soften by immersing brushes in hot vinegar
— Wood cleaner and polish – mix 1/8 cup food-grade linseed oil, 1/8 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup of lemon juice in glass jar – add a few drops of vitamin E, cover, store for later use
— Anti-static agents – static builds up when clothes dry – place a damp towel in the dryer with lighter items instead of an anti-static product – for heavier loads, consider hanging laundry when nearly dry
— Bleach substitute – use borax instead; or 12 parts water to 1 part white vinegar; or add 1 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide to laundry in the automatic bleach dispenser or add as the washer is filling before you add the clothing, so that it is distributed evenly
— Detergent substitute – add 1/3 cup of washing soda and 1/2 cup of soap powder to hot water as machine fills – add clothes when both ingredients dissolve – if hard water, add extra 1/4 cup of washing soda
— Fabric softener – add 1/2 cup of baking soda to machine as it is filling and let it dissolve before adding your clothes
P.S. – Don’t forget to use a clothesline if you can to cut down energy use and add freshness to your clothes
There are alternatives to enzyme presoaks and bleach for tough stains. Test below first on the fabric to check for discolouration. If this occurs, neutralize the cleaning agent immediately. Acids (lemon juice and vinegar) neutralize bases (baking soda) and vice versa. Wash after application.
— Berries – soak in vinegar
— Blood – soak in cold water, and remove with hydrogen peroxide – for a more stubborn stain, mix cornstarch, talcum powder or cornmeal with water and apply the mixture – allow to dry and brush away
— Butter, chocolate or wax – rub with a paste of washing soda and water
— Chewing gum – rub with ice, peel off gum
— Coffee – mix an egg yolk with lukewarm water and rub on stain
— Crayons – rub with toothpaste
— Decals – rub with vinegar or vegetable oil
— Egg – wash in cold water
— Fruit or wine – immediately pour salt or hot water on stain – soak in milk before washing
— Grass – soak in vinegar or alcohol and water
— Grease – pour boiling water on stain, then dry baking soda – or rub lard into stain, wash
— Heavy soils – rub with 2 Tbsp washing soda in 1/4 cup of warm water
— Ink – soak in milk or remove with hydrogen peroxide
— Lipstick – rub with cold cream or shortening, wash with washing soda
— Machine oil – scrub with washing soda and water
— Mustard – rub with vegetable glycerine soap
— Nail polish – rub with alcohol
— Oil – wipe with vegetable oil (oil draws out oil) – rinse in warm water
— Paint – soak in hot vinegar or washing soda and water
— Rust – saturate with sour milk or lemon juice and rub with salt – place in direct sunlight until dry – alternatively, rub or soak with a cola
— Scorches – boil scorched article in 1 cup soap and 4 cups of milk
— Shellac – wipe with alcohol
— Soiled diapers – pre-soak in 1/4 cup of baking soda dissolved in warm water before washing in tub or machine
— Stains – rub with a paste of borax and vinegar
Disclaimer: Used with permission from Green Earth Environmental Products – London, Earthkeeper Magazine – Guelph, and Greenpeace – Toronto. The Green Directory and those listed cannot assume responsibility for the effectiveness of the suggested cleaners. Caution urged in use of all cleaning solutions. Keep from reach of children.
Increasing your consumption of organic foods is a great way to decrease your ecological footprint as it supports organic farmers for more sustainable and healthy farming practices. For more information, visit the Canadian Organic Growers’ website: http://www.cog.ca/. For local Organic Growers, visit http://www.londonareaorganicgrowers.com/.
Chemical Free Garden and Lawn Care
TREA’s Pesticide-Free Kit
TREA compiled a Pesticide-Free Kit for Londoners a few years ago to help citizens understand issues surrounding landscapers being accredited for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) – the kit is still relevant and informative. Visit https://www.trea.ca/resources/pesticides-composting/. It offers ways to control pests and care for your lawn and garden in a more eco-friendly way.
Ontario’s Cosmetic Pesticide Ban
Ontario’s Ban came into effect April 22, 2009. It supersedes the City’s Pesticide By-law from 2006, and any other municipal pesticide by-law. Now there is just one set of rules across Ontario.
Pesticides cannot be used for cosmetic purposes on lawns, vegetable and ornamental gardens, patios, driveways, cemeteries, and in parks and school yards. This includes many herbicides, fungicides and insecticides which pose risks to our health. Over 250 products for sale were banned and more than 80 pesticide ingredients for cosmetic uses. There are exemptions for public health or safety reasons such as fighting West Nile Virus, killing stinging insects like wasps, or controlling poison ivy and other plants poisonous to the touch as well as specific tree, agriculture and forestry care, sports fields for specific competitions, golf courses accredited on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices, speciality turf and public works specific to highways, railways, power works, gas works, water works and other utilities, transit/ transportation corridors and the perimeter of nuclear facilities. Exceptions do not apply to areas pedestrians use on a regular basis or picnic and rest areas. 11 classifications exist. Visit https://news.ontario.ca/ene/en/2009/03/ontarios-cosmetic-pesticides-ban.html.
For more information, visit the province’s website or call them at 1-800-565-4923.
Chemical-Free Lawn Care
There are things you can do to create a beautiful lawn without chemicals. Ideas include:
— planting several types of drought-resistant grasses, ground covers
— raking your lawn thoroughly in the spring
— aerating the lawn using an aerator tool
— overseeding bare patches
— applying a mulch of compost or other organic material yearly
— mowing high (minimum 8 cm) as this reduces weed growth
— leaving grass clippings on the lawn
— watering thoroughly once a week when required (more frequent, light waterings induce a weak and shallow root system)
— trying to water only at night or during overcast days
— removing weeds that do occur by hand
— fertilizing your garden with an organic fertilizer once in the fall
— using an electric or manual push lawn mower – studies show using your gas powered mower for 1 hour is the equivalent of producing the same air pollution as driving 160-320 kms; also fuel and oil spillage from mower may end up in the soil and water
Visit TREA’S compost demonstration site at 1017 Western Road, London to view alternative ground covers in lieu of growing typical manicured lawn grass.
Chemical-free Garden Care
An alternative to maintaining your lawn is to plant a perennial garden. A well-maintained garden with an organic (chemical-free) approach is especially beneficial in vegetable or fruit gardens. Always evaluate the following aspects of cultivation to help grow a healthy garden:
— using disease-resistant plant varieties
— using mulches (such as wood chips, leaves, compost)
— experimenting with placing certain plants beside each other to reduce pest infestation
— using compost in the soil
— handpicking off insects
— homemade spray (garlic and water, cayenne and water, or hot peppers and water)
— watering heavily and infrequently
— encouraging beneficial insects
Insect Control Inside and Outside the Home
— Ants – to keep ants out of your house, plant pansies or herbs (mint, marjoram, lavender, fennel) around the outside of the house – inside, ants can be repelled by leaving pieces of lemon rind and drops of lemon juice in infested areas – to kill ants you can place a bait of honey and boric acid, or in the case of carpenter ants, peanut butter and boric acid – fresh camphor or sage will keep them out of closets
— Crickets – mix molasses and vanilla extract or lemon juice in water as bait – also plug up any holes in the house where they are getting in
— Fruit flies – they are attracted to light, darken the room and leave a crack in the window or door to let them escape – alternatively, use a lamp to attract them and then capture them by hand
— Houseflies – sticky flypaper is still a good way to catch houseflies and it is non-toxic – you can repel flies by hanging up fresh hazel or tomato leaves, or by growing marigolds near the doorway
— Spiders – can be left alone, they play an important role in controlling other household pests that get into your home
— Ant hills – sprinkle them with eggshells, red pepper (not cayenne), bone or blood meal, talcum powder, wood ash, sulphur, coffee grounds or diatomaceous earth. Also try pouring salted or soapy water over the hills or placing tomato leaves or walnut leaves on top of the nest to repel them. To prevent ants from getting into a tree, wrap strips of cloth smeared with natural resin (tanglefoot, for example, is available at garden centers) around the trunk.
Composting is the breakdown of organic material by soil microorganisms. Much of our household waste is organic and, therefore, can be composted, diverting a significant amount of material from landfill. Finished compost is an excellent fertilizer for the garden or house plants.
The simplest way to compost is in an open pile. Leaves are easily processed this way but kitchen wastes may attract fruit flies and other pests. It is a good idea to enclose your compost pile and prevent odours. You can build a container or purchase one from various hardware stores.For instance, City EnviroDepots sell composters at cost.
To start composting, begin with a layer of soil and carbon-rich (usually brown) material (leaves and newspapers). Spread a layer of nitrogen-rich (usually green) material on top (grass clippings and vegetables scraps). These two types of organic waste need to be balanced in the pile. To aerate the compost pile, you should turn the material with a shovel or special aerating tool. The more often you turn the pile, the faster the compost will form. You should always bury kitchen wastes in the pile so that there is no odour.
Anything you compost needs to be in small pieces. Shredding leaves, plant material and chopping up kitchen waste will increase the speed of the composting and avoid matted layers. For further details on composting visit TREA’s composting 101 comprehensive insert at https://www.trea.ca/programs/waste-recycling/composting-101/
Visit TREA’S demonstration site at 1017 Western Road to view various composters. Check TREA’S website for composting how-to workshops or ask us for one to be scheduled.
Compostable Materials include:
— Fruit and vegetable peelings
— Bread, pasta
— Tea bags, coffee grinds and filters
— Egg, seafood and nut shells (these degrade slowly so used limited amounts)
— Grass clippings (use untreated)
— Garden trimmings (disease-free plants only) – chop up or shred woody stalks
— Weeds (avoid weeds that have gone to seed)
— Fireplace ashes – make sure they have cooled down
— Cardboard and paper – should be shredded and used in limited quantities
— Paper plates
— Cotton or wool rags
— Human hair, pet hair and feathers are high in nitrogen (use untreated)
Other materials to compost – cotton rags, felt waste, granite dust, leather waste and dust, pine needles, rope (not nylon), string, wool rags, sawdust – in limited quantities since these breaks down slowly.
Do not compost:
— Animal meat, bones, fish scraps, cooked food or dairy products as they attract animals
— Garlic inhibits bacterial growth necessary for composting
— Plastic, glass, foil and metal are not biodegradable
— Toxic materials – paint, solvents, motor oil and household cleaners
— Animal feces (dog or cat) may contain microorganisms that cause disease in humans
— Walnuts or rhubarb leaves contain high levels of material, toxic to insects or other plants
— Rhododendron or English Laurel leaves take too long to break down
— Plants infected with a disease or a severe insect attack where eggs could be preserved. The insects themselves could survive in spite of the compost pile heat (apple scab, aphids, tent caterpillars, etc.)
— Certain grasses with a rhizomatous root system such as crabgrass. These may not be killed by the heat of decomposition and can choke out other plants when the compost is used in the garden
Reprinted with permission from Recycling Council of Ontario, Toronto
What to do when the compost pile…
— Smells bad: There are too many fruit and vegetable scraps, not enough air, or the material is too wet. Aerate the pile and add dry soil, leaves or shredded newspaper to absorb moisture. Coffee grounds can deodorize the compost pile.
— Is dry and will not heat up: Add water to dampen the material.
— Is wet and will not heat up: There is not enough nitrogen in the pile. Add nitrogen-rich materials such as kitchen scraps or grass clippings.
— Attracts fruit flies and wasps: Kitchen scraps have been left uncovered. Cover the scraps with a layer of dirt or leaves.
— Attracts animal pests: Cooked food or meat wastes have been added. Try to avoid adding these items, and make the container inaccessible to animals.
This is a unique partnership of environmentally minded London businesses, nonprofits and local government working collectively to raise awareness of composing locally. Contact Anne Boyd, City Manager, Waste Diversion Programs, for more information (519 661-2489, x6464)
If you like the idea of composting but have never gotten started because you live in an apartment, don’t create enough waste to bother with or don’t like the idea of trudging through the snow in the winter to get to your composter, then vermicomposting may be for you.
What is Vermicomposting?
This alternative to backyard composting uses red wiggler worms to compost organic waste. This is particularly good for kitchen wastes, and can be done indoors throughout the year. A pound of these hungry little wigglers will consume also a pound of food waste each and every day! The worms live in a box or bin in bedding that is most often made primarily of mulched newsprint.
How does it work? The worms will eat just about any kitchen food scraps. Cut food into smaller pieces first. It’s a good idea to avoid meat and bones, fresh onions and garlic, fatty or spicy foods. Egg shells, in particular can be a problem and should be dried and crushed finely first.
Special vermicomposting worms called “Red Wigglers” can be purchased. One location is Cathy’s Crawlers with a website at http://www.cathyscomposters.com or phone at 1 888-775-9495.
Make your own vermicomposter:
— Get a 30 cm to 60 cm deep container. Plastic works best. Punch ventilation holes in the top and drainage holes in the sides. Place the container on a tray to collect the moisture (use this to water your plants).
— Tear newspaper strips and fill one-third of container. Dampen bedding and add worms. They should be red wigglers.
— Bury food scraps in alternating areas of the bin. Smaller scraps help speed the process.
— After two or three months, harvest your compost by placing the open composter under a bright light. The worms are light-sensitive and will dig into the bedding.
— You can then remove the upper layer of compost (an ideal amendment to add to your potted houseplants or to add directly to your garden. Your plants will love it). Then replace with fresh newspaper.
Excerpts reprinted with permission from Earthkeeper Magazine, Guelph.
HOW MANY R’s ARE THERE?
Beyond reduce, reuse, recycle, Greenpeace tells us there can be 10 ‘R’s toward sustainable living. When problems of mass-production, excessive marketing, and overconsumption are so systemic – we need to go further so:
Repair things, repurpose or upcycle to create new items. Refuse disposable straws, plastic bags, one-time use containers/packaging and cutlery from take-away restaurants. Remember to bring your cloth shopping/lunch bag, cloth napkins, stainless steel water bottles, mugs, travel containers when going out. Respect and help restore the planet by lowering your environmental footprint and stand up for treeplanting, plastic-free oceans, and climate concerns. And what about rot as in compost, return, and refill? There are so many ways to live more sustainably!
Reducing our waste is the most important aspect of solving the waste problem. There are several things you can do:
— Reject – buy only what you need – before you buy an item, ask yourself if you really need it or could you make do with what you already have – this applies to all items, particularly food; which could end up in the garbage unused because of expiry dates, imperfections, or having bought too much in the first place
— Purchase items with a minimal amount of packaging – for instance, buy in bulk, take your own containers or use returnable, refillable containers
— Buy durable goods that cost a bit more but last a lot longer
— Do not buy disposable products such as disposable diapers, paper towels, plates and cups, throwaway cameras, straws, utensils, pens, lighters and razors
— Repair instead of replacing with something new
— Use empty jars to store rice, spices or other food item
— Donate unused yet still useful items to charities instead of disposing of them.
— Take the time to eat-in rather than take-out, an easy way to cut down waste.
Check your City waste calendar for other businesses that take materials such as construction and renovation materials, textiles, home furnishings, electronics, appliances, plastic bags, vehicles/motor oil etc., batteries, propane tanks, paint, fluorescent bulbs, medications and so on.
There are countless items that can be reused instead of being thrown out. Some ideas include:
— Pass clothing in good condition that your children have outgrown to friends or thrift stores, charities and places of worship
— Reuse black plastic and no.5 plastic if you already have them
— Return hangers to most dry cleaners
— Choose cloth diapers over disposables
— Inquire if yarn and cloth scraps, buttons, wallpaper ends and samples, toilet paper rolls, small boxes, egg cartons, yogurt containers, etc. can be used by nearby nurseries, elementary schools and day care centers
— Donate eyeglasses to places of worship or the Canadian National Institute for the Blind
— Use a sewing machine, to make new items – worn-out bed sheets are usually only damaged in the middle, and the sides can be sewn into pillow covers; frayed bath towels can become face or hand towels or dish cloths; old towels can be used as cleaning rags to replace paper towels; old drapes can be used to make shopping bags
— Plastic grocery store bags can be reused several times or recycled on your next trip to the store (don’t put them in the blue box). But better yet, use dependable reusable cloth bags, and small cotton bags for veggies and fruit. Keep a couple extra in the car.
— Used one-sided paper can make pads of paper to write grocery lists and reminders
— Plastic containers, ie margarine, can be used to freeze food, meal prep, store leftovers, or transport a snack
— Magazines can be passed on to friends, donated to hospital or clinic waiting rooms, or to other institutions
— Wrap your special gifts in newspaper, magazines, or old posters.
— Books can be donated to hospitals or resale organizations or resold in used book stores
— Empty egg cartons can become seed planters, or organizers for beads, earrings, or crafts or just take them back to grocery stores or farmer’s markets.
— Buy products such as soap, and lotion in refillable or recyclable containers.
— Compost kitchen scraps and yard waste
— If possible, take your compostables home from work in the containers in which you brought your lunch.
— Keep some scrap paper by your printer to print out draft copies.
Excerpts from the Ontario Recycling Information Service Toronto and past TREA listings
You can practice reusing by buying good used articles at various outlets, flea markets, garage sales, consignment shops, auctions and yard sales around the city. Check media listings online, neighbourhood papers and grocery store notice boards for events or buy online from reputable sources from the owner. Also, see listings in the “Ecowise Consumer” section of this directory.
Interested to find out more, contact :
— Recycling Council of Ontario – PO Box 83, Orangeville, ON, L9W 2Z5 M6G 1A5, https://rco.on.ca, 1-888-501,9636, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every tonne of recycled paper saves 17 trees, 27,000 litres of water and enough energy to heat the average home for 6 months
— Share or rent large, expensive items that you use only occasionally, such as lawn mowers, special gardening equipment and tools
— Make an agreement to share newspaper subscriptions with a neighbour
— Place a “No Flyers” sign on your mailbox, or write to the Canadian Direct Marketing Association, 69 John Street Toronto M9N 1J6 or email email@example.com be removed from mailing lists
— If you have ideas on how manufacturers can cut down on their packaging waste, write them with your suggestion – it may even save them money.
— Donate old blankets and towels to a local homeless shelter or animal rescue shelter.
Food Waste is the Problem
Much of our residential waste is managed by various municipal programs. The City continually looks at new innovations recognizing the Ontario government has recommended targets as far back as December 2008 suggesting 80% waste diversion targets for municipalities. Although that goal was not met by municipalities then, the current Waste-Free Ontario Act now aims for a zero-waste, zero-emissions Ontario with goals of waste diversion of 30% by 2020, 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.
Locally, 45% of our household waste is diverted from landfill with a strategy moving ahead to establish a waste diversion rate of 60% by 2022.
A recent London study with 1,700 participants included 600 who agreed to a further study of their household waste. Survey results found leftover foods representing 30-35% of London’s waste or that the average household has been throwing out about $600 (125 kg) of food each year. This was found to be equivalent to 323 meals a year. Survey answers are expected to identify new ways to help change behaviours and reduce waste from going to the curb.
Many recycling strategies can be employed to reduce waste. The curbside program is an important visible part of a community’s waste processing. However, recycling alone will not solve our waste problem. Some recycling processes can produce as much air pollution as garbage incineration. Therefore, it’s essential we make efforts to reduce waste by purchasing goods with little or no packaging. Additionally, recycling isn’t sorted or rinsed correctly by all homeowners. This causes more garbage or maintenance at recycling centres. If you have questions on local sorting, visit https://www.london.ca/residents/Garbage-Recycling/Recycling/Pages/Sort-it-Right
Check your waste calendar for items that can go to curb. Note the maximum 3 container garbage limit otherwise you need to have tags from the EnviroCentre on extra bags. Don’t have bags weigh more than 20 kg (44 lb).
Blue Box Stream #1 Paper products
Examples – paper products: boxboard (ie cereal, detergent, cracker and tissue boxes); cardboard (ie clean pizza boxes, packing boxes); catalogues, magazines, newspapers, books, flattened egg cartons and tubes, flyers, envelopes and writing paper. Flatten cardboard and tie into bundles no larger than 75 cm X 75 cm X 20 cm (30” X 30” X 8”).
Blue Box Stream #2 Food, beverage and liquid container
Examples – rigid food and liquid containers (ie milk, juice, soup), coffee cups, aluminium and steel cans; empty paint cans, aerosol cans, aluminium foil/pie plates; glass bottles, jars; plastic bottles and tubs (with 1-7 on the bottom of the container including plastic trays and clamshells). Stream 2 products can be set out in a blue box or a see-through blue bag.
Check your waste calendar for collection do’s and don’t and pickup days. If you have questions, call 519-661-2489 or visit the City of London’s website. There are two ways to dispose of yard waste – at the curb or you can take the materials to a depot. Check above for times, seasons and materials collected.
— Curbside collection – Place yard materials at the curb by 7:00 am on the Monday of the collection week. Pick-up can take place anytime during the week (including Saturday).
— London EnviroDepots are at 28 Clarke Road (s), 1450 Oxford Street (w) and Try Recycling at 21462 Clarke Road (n). Check your calendar for times when EnviroDepots are open. Also note the two City EnviroDepots sell composters ($35 each, cash only).