The Valuable Individual
How can we, as individuals, participate in waste
management? Because some of us are so overwhelmed
with Earth's problems, we feel that our contributions have
no real consequence in the end. For others, social barriers
can be an issue. A lady we once knew confessed that she
did not want to be seen buying used items or being
concerned with power use. She was worried people would
see her as cheap - a scrooge - when the family was so
affluent. Yet, she was very careful to be seen with recycling
bins out on the curb on pick-up day, because that was
thought to be the thing to do socially. Now is a good time to
put an end to these negative thoughts and feelings of false
pride. Waste reduction is not about ego - it is about the
health of the planet and of our nation.
Communities would be wise to look at Nova Scotia's waste
reduction success and try to emulate it in their area. With the
highest waste reduction rates in Canada, Nova Scotia has
reduced landfill contributions by 46% - saving about $31
million per year - simply by making the most of the organic
and recyclable materials. Curbside recycling service (Blue
Box) is available to 99% of its residents and 76% now enjoy
curbside organic service (a.k.a. Green Box).
With better management of organic and recyclable waste,
we will find we do not have to put the trash out as often
because the odors and volume are greatly decreased. As a
fiscal incentive, many garbage collection companies offer
discounts to homes with reduced waste.
We can also help the waste management industry run more
efficiently. For instance, when only full garbage bags and
Blue or Green boxes are put out on the curb, the garbage
truck does not have to stop as often and burn fossil fuels
inefficiently while idling. (Incidentally, vehicle idling is
responsible for 3% of the air pollution problem.) Similarly, by
collapsing boxes before recycling we are ensuring that
space is used more efficiently, thereby reducing the number
of bins needed for transporting materials.
Recycling, alone, has a huge impact on the environment. A
study of a 100-unit apartment building practicing maximum
recycling found it would save 21.93 thirty-foot trees, 26.86
cubic yards of landfill space, 8,389 kilowatts of electricity,
and 77.4 pounds of air pollution in just one year!
So you see, these seemingly small choices and efforts
towards waste management really do make a difference.
-- Written by Dave and Lillian Brummet based on the
concept of their new book Trash Talk. The book offers useful
solutions for the individual to reduce waste and better
manage resources. A guide for anyone concerned about his
or her impact on the environment.