Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Trash Can Runneth Over

Wow, one day into a Toronto garbage strike and public trash containers are overflowing and parks have become impromptu dumps. The interviews with testy residents would give you the impression that the strike has been on for weeks in the sweltering heat rather than a day.

We are all dependent on someone else coming along and hauling away our "unwanteds." As North Americans we have an amazing ability to produce refuse and consider it almost a God-given right to have it whisked away to parts unknown. In recent years we have become better at sorting through our waste for the purpose of recycling but our diversion is still sketchy and it is disturbing to hear that a lot of supposed recyclables get shipped to countries such as India where environmental laws are more lax. What happens to the stuff? It gets burned.

Speaking of burning, we move relentlessly closer to the existence of an incinerator for our garbage here in Durham Region. It will cost the taxpayers a quarter of a billion dollars to build and will still produce toxic ash which will have to be disposed of somewhere. A number of this blog's readers have attended public meetings to express concern, but the project moves forward.

What should we do as concerned citizens and Christians about waste disposal? While it may sound simplistic to say that we should produce much less garbage, that must be a goal. In Europe there have been concerted efforts to reduce the amount of packaging and producers and retailers are charged with the responsibility of disposal. I often buy milk at one of the drugstores and refuse the bag they offer, pointing out that the bags of milk are in a bag -- why would I need another?

Of course we might actually listen to Jesus and choose to live more simply in every aspect of our lives.

What are you doing to reduce waste? Composting? Carrying reusable shopping bags? Buying less stuff?


Laura said...

Yup to all three....and my next babystep has been trying not to buy the "easy" but over- packaged plastic bins of salad greens which had been my habit...so if you see me in my backyard, swinging a cotton pillow case in circles over my head, full of just washed lettuce leaves,to dry my weeks worth of salad greens, so their ready to go, just as if I had bought the "bad" bin...no I'm not crazy...just trying to do my small part. Where did this mass greens-drying technique come from, you may wonder..the internet, of course.

lionlamb said...

Good point about the salads/

Your neighbours will think you are calling the troops into battle -- maybe you are. There are some nifty salad spinners out there, Laura, which might be more appealing in winter!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip Laura. I'm not sure what conclusions I would have drawn had I seen you. I would have been too shy to ask so thanks for the explanation.

We do our best to lessen our waste, but find the kids less able to see the bigger picture so it remains a bit of a struggle. Hopefully our example will at some point make sense to them.

I think we need to focus on the producers of packaged items a bit more. There is only so much the individual can do. For instance, there must be ways to produce many things like shampoo in a bar instead of a liquid that needs a plastic bottle. (tablets maybe so there is no sharing necessary?) Couldn't dish soap also come in a tablet? I guess it depends on the environmental impact of producing new products but surely we should be thinking in terms of producing less waste on a grander scale than the individual. An indvidual has to buy and use what is available for the most part.