Hi everyone, my name is Christina, and I live in Alberta, Canada with my hubby, and my two daughters.
So, in the last couple of months, we have been inundated with news about the changes in our recycling due to China’s decision to stop buying our recycled waste. For years, about half of Canada’s recycling exports were being purchased by China, but that has all stopped. This has directly effected us because now, what we can put into our blue bags has completely changed.
We had it good with our recycling system; just wash all our recycling and stick it all together in a blue bag on the curb. Now it isn’t so easy. The biggest change; we can’t put any glass or soft plastics (like the clam shells berries come in) into our blue bags.
Now at first, I was a bit upset. I mean, I have an awesome recycling system set out in my pantry, all labeled and organized, and I have been quite proud of how much went into our recycle bags compared to our garbage.
But as I sat back and listened to people blaming the city and some stating that they aren’t even going to try to recycle anymore if it was this difficult, I decided to do a bit of research into who’s fault it really is.
So, there is a huge backlog of recycling piling up at plants all over Canada. What was once a money maker we could count on to offset recycling costs is now providing municipalities with next to no income. With no one to ship our recycling to, we are in danger of it all ending up in landfills. To me, this is crazy. I have always been quite diligent with recycling. My Dad was an elementary school principal, and he not only focused on making sure his students learned about and participated in recycling programs, he was one of the first people I knew who set up different bins for sorting recycling at home. So, in my mind, the majority of my trash has always been recycled properly and reused in making new products.
Hahahah. Yes, I have been very deluded. Just because I put a piece of plastic in a blue bag does not mean it was used in the making of the water bottle my daughter took to dance class last week.
Now, another thing I have been hearing again and again, and I’m sure you have heard it too, is “it’s not our straws from Alberta contaminating the ocean”. Well, let’s just think about this. If our straws and other plastics were in a block of recycling that was shipped overseas, and that particular compressed block of plastic was either contaminated by containers that were not cleaned out properly, or contained too much of an undesirable plastic, where do you suppose that pallet of plastic ended up? It would be thrown in a dump, or a field, probably somewhere by an ocean, where our straws just might end up blowing into the water.
I have to say, this realization had a very profound effect on me. The fact that, despite living as land-locked as you can get, my straw, or plastic bag, or water bottle could actually end up in the ocean meant that my beautiful, organized recycling system was not a magic solution to our family’s waste.
Now, there are many way that our governments are trying to help this problem, such as creating laws to ensure a certain portion of new plastic products uses recycled materials., Extended Producer Responsibility or “EPR” which shifts who is responsible for paying for recycling packaging of goods to the producer, pursuing new technologies that make sorting goods more efficient, and building new recycling plants.
But while we are waiting for all of these initiatives to be sorted out, there is something we can do. We can make small changes to what we do each day that will result in less recycling for our government to figure out how to dispose of.
So, for 2019, my family is going on a journey. A kind of “walk on the green side”. Each month, we are going to implement one or two changes and see how realistic it is to live a greener life. At the end of 2019, we will see what changes stuck, and hopefully, we will have reduced our contribution to the recycling backlog.
For our first step, we are going to try, you guessed it, plastic water bottles. Now, if you are like me, you probably have a ton of water bottles shoved in a drawer or cabinet that you occasionally use. I actually use mine quite often, but I am still guilty of buying cases of water for the family to bring to work, school, dance classes and practices. One of the reasons we do this is convenience. Even if we bring a reusable water bottle with us, we invariably leave it in a car, in a bag, and grabbing a plastic bottle from the pantry is just quicker.
So we just need to make a commitment to changing this behaviour. What we have decided to do is create a habit. These are our favourite water bottles. They are from David’s Tea, and what we like about them is that you can unscrew the bottom and fill them with ice, snd they will keep your drink cold all day. Anyway, each evening, we will make sure all 4 of our bottles are rinsed out and sitting here, ready to fill and take with us in the morning. We have our plan, and we will see how well this works.
If you have any ideas for me; things that you do to help reduce your carbon foot print, please feel free to share your tips below.
Thanks, and I will see you next week with our next step towards a greener life.
Bye for now!