There’s no such thing as ‘away.’ Think about it: when you throw something ‘away’ where does it go? It doesn’t disappear. It doesn’t cease to exist. It just goes somewhere else and becomes someone else’s problem. The earth is a closed system: things, objects, belongings – stuff never goes away altogether. They might change form and move from place to place, but there is no such thing as ‘away.’ In a world like ours where things are produced at ever increasing speeds and quantities, the importance of sound waste management is crucial. The years of mindless littering at outdoor picnics or dumping garbage on the side of the road are, for the most part, behind us. The rise of recycling initiatives in many municipalities makes it easy for some products to be sent ‘away’ to become something new, redirected from landfills for other uses. However, not all materials can be recycled. Certain materials, like glass, aluminum and paper, are easier to recycle than others. Many kinds of plastic are virtually useless after their first use, both because of their complex chemical makeup and because of their extreme prevalence in the system: there is simply too much plastic in the world for much of it to be productively reused. Instead it ends up in landfills, bodies of water, or foreign countries, where we don’t have to see or think about it. Sustainable waste management is a big job, but the 3 ’R’s are a good place to start. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
THE STEPS INVOLVED
Many people don’t realize that the 3 ‘R’s are not 3 options, but rather three sequential steps: First, reduce your production of waste. After that, look for ways to reuse materials you’re finished with. When you’ve done both of these, then think about how those materials can be properly recycled, literally made into something new.
Equally important is your participation in completing the cycle: purchase and use products that have been through the cycle and have come out the other side, things made from recycled materials.
Some ministry units report partnerships with local farmers or zoos. Once a week, their food scraps are taken away for animal slop, the rest is composted. One corps has a committee in charge of caring for the compost, seeing that it gets enough heat and moisture, making sure it is turned regularly and not compacted. Eventually it gets used to feed gardens and flower beds.
LINKS AND RESOURCES
Waste Management Sustainability Services – Green Squad
Waste Management: Think Green
Recycling Council of Ontario
Recycling Council of British Columbia
Recycling Council of Alberta
Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council
Green Action Centre (Manitoba)
Nova Scotia: Environment: Waste and Recycling
Multi Materials Stewardship Board – Newfoundland
Island Waste Management Corporation – PEI
I Care North West Territories
Raven Recycling – Yukon
Waste Management Bermuda
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