Dawn Lyons endorsed 2014-07-06 12:02:12 -0400So far this challenge has been the hardest, and I don’t consider that I have completed it yet. In my house, we have been composting for years. Food waste gets sorted: I keep a container in the freezer for veggie stock items (onion skins, garlic peels, pepper innards, mushroom butts, etc.), other veggie scraps (incl the lees from veggie stock) go into the backyard composter, and things like meat scraps, tissues, and kitty litter go into the Green Bin. So I think we’re pretty cool here at home, GreenBin-wise. But we are already doing that, so it’s not a challenge.
A check of their websites show that all three of my local schools have Green Bin programmes in place and Parkdale Public even has their own composters and use the compost in their organic gardens. Can’t much improve on that. I don’t know anyone in highrises, and I don’t shop in malls, so I don’t feel it is my place to tell them what to do — I will leave that to their tenants and customers, who have a relationship with them.
What to do? Next step, more research! Well, I found this: hhttp://www.digitaljournal.com/article/275344 and this toronto.metblogs.com/2008/05/ — old news, but apparently people are not happy, for various reasons, some of which are very good. More recent is http://torontogardens.blogspot.ca/2013/09/what-happens-to-your-green-bin-toronto.html. Hmmm, so how can I compost better? I will stop using plastic at all, every, anywhere in my Green Bins and switch to a paper liner. Bella from Ottawa showed me how to do it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfEX85V9n8w.
So, that’s a little better, but still not exactly a challenge. Will continue to research and report back.
Help Grow Green Bins
One of the biggest types of waste is organic waste - this includes food waste and other things that can be composted, like tissues. However, many Torontonians just don’t have green bins. A large number of people who live in apartments and condos don’t have access to green bins. Many schools, small businesses and community centres across the City also don’t have green bins. That means thousands of tonnes of food waste are going to landfill.
The good news is that the City offers green bins to every apartment, business, school and building that the City collects waste from.
Help bring green bins to more Toronto buildings. Call or email the building manager of your apartment, school or community centre to let them know that you'd like green bins for the building.
- If you have green bins at home, think about community centres, businesses and other places you go that don't have green bins, but should. Write to the relevant property manager, or call your Councillor.
Make a phone call, or use our suggestions below to send a letter to your building manager.
Dear (INSERT NAME of relevant property manager for your apartment, school, temple, etc),
INSERT PERSONAL STATEMENT - e.g. "I live in this building." Or "I attend this school." Or "I use this Community Centre for weekly classes."
Food waste is the largest single type of waste in our garbage. Toronto studies found that up to 70% of garbage from residents in apartments is food waste.
Organic waste collection, or green bins, can greatly reduce waste, recycling valuable nutrients back into the soil. With City of Toronto collection, green bin pick up is free, which also means lower waste bills.
Please bring green bin collection to our APARTMENT / CONDO / SCHOOL / COMMUNITY building, so that we can start reducing waste.
YOUR NAME, ADDRESS / EMAIL ADDRESS
Take the extra step:
Start a backyard composter, or set up a worm composter on your balcony or at your office!
Dawn Lyons commented on Standardize what 'compostable' plastic is! 2014-06-17 19:58:53 -0400Some things that are labelled “recycleable” are, in fact, not! In Toronto, for instance, paper coffee cups, which are technically recyclable, are garbage => landfill b/c the City has no customer for the cup. It’s the old ‘recyclable where facilities exist’ wheeze. That is the clincher, it falls to the city, village, township, whatever, to contract with an outside party to buy, or at least take away, any material before it can be, you know, actually recycled. Right now I am trying to find out if the plastic pouch my organic™, non-GMO, Fair Trade™, generally save-the-earth sugar comes in is recyclable in Toronto. Or should I buy the maybe-GMO-but-for-sure-oppressing-people-in-the-third-world mainstream sugar which comes in a recyclable paper package? The Quebec-based people wo package and sell my favourite dried fruits and nuts admit, “Our pouches are recyclable … in Europe, but not here.”
It’s a really tough one to answer, we don’t even have stats on the relative impacts. Where oh where is Pollution Probe on this? Back in the day we could count on them to tell us whether cloth or disposable diapers were better overall (oddly enough, disposables weighed in better, after call factors like chlorine bleach and laundry detergent considered, although better alternatives exist for both of them nowadays),say, ones that involve/require intervention at a govt/corrporate policy level, not our everyday choices. That’s what success can do to you, I guess.
Anyway, as to ‘biodegradable’ or ‘compostable’ plastic, it seems to be a crock. Plastic may ‘degrade’, but only over long, long periods of time and then, only in the presence of sunlight. Which is not what you get a lot of in a landfill. In order to make an informed choice, we would have to know the half-life or whatever of each plastic we toss. My operating assumption is that plastic is forever, and the only responsible thing to do with it is to keep it forever, recycle it, or better still, not use it at all.
Companies that sell products have a choice about the type and amount of packaging they use on their products.
Many states and countries are creating rules that make these companies responsible for their products and packaging, even after they leave the store. This gives companies a reason to use less packaging and to ensure that it's recyclable. In Ontario, we've made a start, but companies need to do more.70 signatures
Dear The Packaging Association of Canada (PAC),
As the organization that calls itself "the voice of the Canadian packaging industry since 1950," your members are mostly responsible for the products and packaging that end up in municipal waste systems.
We urge your member companies to take responsibility for the packaging waste they create. That's why I am requesting your member companies to:
a. stop using non-recyclable materials to make packaging.
b. pay back municipalities for the full costs of dealing with packaging once it ends up in the waste or recycling stream.
Dawn Lyons commented on Waste Free Summer Feasts 2014-05-26 10:17:42 -0400This is really excellent, and an area I am not so good on. After reading this, I went out to the yard sales that are happening this lovely Saturday in May, and purchased some plastic dishes (bowls, plates, cups and glasses) esp for picnics and other “away” meals. I mostly have reg pottery/glass/yada eating stuff, but they are breakable in backpacks on bikes (ask me how I know this…). However! the 4 nice orange bowls and the ‘glasses’ I got are charming acrylics, the owners were clearing them b/c they weren’t microwaveable (not a prob at most picnics) and ideal for salads and soups.
Reminds me of the time we went to a banquet at a Friends of the Voyageurs (a group of fur-trade reenactors) meet-up and banquet up on Kempenfelt Bay. The banquet was BYOS (bring your own spoon). People carved wooden spoons, a nice pastime around the campfire, and made extras as gifts. After dinner there was Spoon Dancing, in which you would offer the person you were sweet on a spoon you’d made — good times! :)
Dawn Lyons endorsed 2014-05-24 20:43:58 -0400Heh! All our stuff is used, I am reminded of the Guindon cartoon, scruffy middle-aged couple in shabby room wondering, “Was any of our stuff ever new?” We even have recycled cats, all strays, unwanteds, or from shelters (see photo).
But Barbara has an excellent point, just b/c it says ‘sustainable’ doesn’t mean it is, let alone recycled. I will be more critical of labels from now on. We used to buy recycled paper products, TP, paper towel, etc, but moved to reusable cloth, but I think I need to be more critical WRT printing and writing paper (thanks Barbara H).
Paint. That’s interesting, I am coming up to some painting soon and will have to explore the alternatives. Milk paint looks pretty good. http://www.milkpaint.com/ Will continue to research b4 painting and report back. Got some toasty warm polar fleeces a while back from Mountain Equip Coop, made from old pop bottles, so they say. Comforter is goose down, not recycled, but at least renewable, so long as there are geese. Ahem.
Re: Extra step: Write to a company that you buy from and ask them to include more recycled content in their products. OK, got three companies in mind, will have to find out what the are already doing (so I don’t look like a donut), then let the letters fly! Also, I think that it is useful to approach the retailer. I mean, you ask to talk to your local (say) No Frills manager, it would have more clout than sending a letter to Loblaws head office, IMO.
OK, so here are a couple of our recycled kittehs. That’s Cutie-baby on the left and HRH the Princess Julia on the right.
Buying recycled products is another way to reduce waste. Recycled materials don’t use as many raw materials and natural resources. They also use less water and save energy. Recycled products also help keep the green recycling economy thriving.
Recycled content is used for many products:
- office or school supplies (paper, pens and printing cartridges)
- home supplies (paint, storage bins and garbage bags)
- clothing or reusable bags made with plastic fibres
Choosing paper made from 100% recycled paper instead of trees uses 50% less water and energy - and it saves trees!
- If you’re buying new products, choose something that is made of recycled materials. Aim for 100% post-consumer recycled content.
- Share a photo or tell us about it
Take the extra step:Endorse
Write to a company that you buy from and ask them to include more recycled content in their products.
Dawn Lyons endorsed 2014-05-24 19:08:36 -0400Hmm, again. I rarely get take-out coffee/tea, and do carry a water bottle with me. However, I could add a pair of chopsticks to my backpack (done!) and some cloth serviettes (also done!) . At home we use washable cloth tissues for noses and TC’s (like Toilet Paper, only Cloths — see photo — which are old flannelette bedsheets, some ours, others from yard sales) instead of disposable paper products. Next step would be change over to cloth instead of paper towel for most purposes That will take some doing, but we start on it now.
Perhaps a campaign to get our local coffee shops to provide and/or fill reusable mugs? I must admit, I am pretty tired of cleaning up used TH, etc. paper coffee cups (which are not recyclable per the Waste Wizard http://app.toronto.ca/wes/winfo/search.do"><a href=“”http://app.toronto.ca/wes/winfo/search.do">http://app.toronto.ca/wes/winfo/search.do">http://app.toronto.ca/wes/winfo/search.do"> ) from my shrubbery!
OK, this will take some organization and negotiation, but I will go there and report back.
Ding!!! Got it! Next birthday, anniversary, Father’s Day, any occasion at all, they get a reusable mug! Meantime, I will seek to reduce my paper towel usage. Oooooh, it will be hard, I love my paper towels! But I love the earth more, all said and done.
Choose to Re-Use!
It's the small things that add up. One coffee cup or one bottle of water doesn't seem like much. Now, think about how full a garbage can would be with 250 single use coffee cups, one for every work day in the year?
Now imagine if just 10% of Torontonians (250,000 people) used throw-away cups and water bottles: it would be a nightmare of unnecessary waste!
But if you choose reusables, like a refillable water bottle, or a travel mug, you can help eliminate this nightmare. You save money and you help the environment (bottled water costs so much more than tap water, and Toronto's tap water is some of the cleanest in the world).
Get a refillable water bottle and reusable travel mug and commit to carrying them with you. Or, if you're having a coffee or tea at a cafe, ask them to put it in a reusable mug instead of a disposable cup.
Snap a photo of yourself using your refillable water bottle or mug and share it with us below.
Take the extra step:Endorse
If you already carry a mug and water bottle, choose a reusable to replace another disposable product in your life - for example using lunch containers instead of disposable bags, or carrying reusable cutlery to use when you get take-out food. Tell us about it and share a photo.
Dawn Lyons endorsed 2014-07-14 18:57:14 -0400Yes, and more all the time! Photo attached is a neighbour’s garden cuttings (an old honeysuckle tree) that we are drying, then we will give to a neighbour who has a fireplace. The plastic fencing will become tomato cage for another neighbour. Other resources we use all the time are 1.) neighbourhood recycling , eg, put used items out on the curb in case anyone else can use them. Got rid of an unused rice cooker, picked up a nice watering can just this week. 2.) The Toronto Tool Library, we are fortunate to have a branch within two blocks, find them at <a href=“”http://torontotoollibrary.com/“>http://torontotoollibrary.com/”>http://torontotoollibrary.com/, and 3.) Bike Pirates, happy to get old bikes, happy to sell refurbished bikes (at very affordable prices), and keen on using salvaged parts to help you fix your own bike. More here: htp://www.bikepirates.com. Am assembling a bunch of old clothing to be used as rags in their shop, too. Every bit of trash is someone’s treasure, just gotta find them.
Think Twice Before You Buy!
Did you know that you can help the environment and reduce waste by simply not buying something? By repairing, sharing, swapping or re-using things, you can avoid wasteful packaging and avoid sending more things to landfill - and you’ll probably save money.
We can buy less, share things, or buy second-hand things to reduce the waste impact of what we own.
This includes things like borrowing a book from the library, or sharing tools with a neighbour instead of buying your own. You can also buy second hand clothing or donate your old furniture to a charitable store.
- Instead of buying something new, reconsider it – borrow it from a friend, or rent it instead. Or, if you really need your own, buy it second hand. Share a photo and tell us about it!
- Instead of throwing out something you don’t use anymore, donate or sell it to someone who could use it. Tell us about it! The City of Toronto website lists local non-profit groups that accept donations of used goods.
Take the extra step:Endorse
Repair it! Instead of tossing something out, get it repaired, or learn to maintain it yourself so it lasts longer. Mend your clothes, or get them altered by a tailor. Tell us about your repair adventure and snap a photo!
Dawn Lyons endorsed 2014-05-24 18:59:04 -0400Why yes, yes I did. Wizard bookmarked, info shared. Although sharing was difficult — it is v hard to print out the CityOfToronto stuff, which I was trying to do for a couple of internet-less neighbours. Why do they make it so hard?
Use Toronto’s Trash Tools
Did you know that in Toronto, more than half of what residents are putting into their garbage bag shouldn't be there? Much of what is put out as garbage can actually be recycled or composted.
There is a lot to learn about Toronto’s waste, and how we can reduce it.
The good news is that the City has a number of user-friendly tools to help you put your waste in the right place!
- Visit toronto.ca/wastewizard and bookmark the Waste Wizard, a simple online search tool to identify where to put your waste.
- The free City waste calendar lists waste collection days and each month features a number of tips on how to sort your waste - if you didn’t get one, order one now by calling 311 or send an email to email@example.com and ask for a Waste Calendar.
Tip: See "What Goes Where" on City of Toronto website for links to information on how to sort and set out your waste.
Take the extra step:Endorse
If you already use the City tools above, share these links with a friend, or a family member.
Dawn Lyons endorsed 2014-05-24 13:49:56 -0400Hmm, the calculation came to 2.0 m3, but we often skip a collection day due to bin not being full (like last g’day, photo attached)! How to calculate that? I looked at the City website, the info was unhelpful (measurements are overall, do not reflect raised floor in smallest bins). So, I worked from the apartment tool, grocery bags per week, and came up with something closer to say 1.0 m3/yr, although there is the odd thing that doesn’t make it into a grocery bag (eg, old bike tires!). So, let’s split the diff and call it 1.5 m3.
Knowing how much waste you produce will help you identify how it can be reduced!
- Use Tool #1 OR Tool #2 below to calculate the approximate garbage your household creates in a year.
- Enter your calculated household waste per year in the comment box below to complete the challenge.
Dawn Lyons answered 2014-05-24 13:12:52 -0400Q: 4 - What do you hope to get from the Waste Free Challenge?
A: A bit of impetus/focus to reduce our household waste and a rallying point for conversations with neighbours about reducing our waste — today the neighbourhood, tomorrow the world!
The Waste Free Challenge is 10 simple steps that anyone in Toronto can take.Take the survey
Tell us about you, and why you are taking the Challenge!