Yes, the holidays draw out the best in most of us each year….but they also bring what seems like an environmentalist’s worst nightmare: tons of garbage, millions of chopped down trees and megawatts of flashing lights. With a little tweaking however, everything from holiday gift-giving to light-stringing can celebrate the environment too!
Here’s Some Tips to Make your Christmas a little Greener!
Take your own re-usable shopping bags with you when you do your Christmas shopping. It is estimated that approximately 125,000 tons of plastic packaging are thrown away over Christmas!
While you’re getting out your Christmas decorations; untangling cords and replacing batteries for your animated snowman or Santa Claus; Aquatera’s Eco Centre is now able to accept your old one time use alkaline batteries.
Did you know that not all gifts need wrapping? Think back to your three favourite holiday memories, I’m willing to bet that they all involve time you spend with your family and friends. By giving gifts that can be experienced, like tickets to a game, theatre or concert or even a homemade dinner, you can minimize wrapping.
Wrap gifts in reusable containers like baskets, tins, hatboxes or cloth bags or have your child draw a picture on plain newsprint and use it to wrap a gift.
Did you know that Christmas wrapping paper can be recycled? Just place your wrapping paper (free of bows, ribbon, etc.) in your blue bag along with your other recyclables.
We thank Amy from Aquatera for be our blog guest this week. Amy will be providing guest blogs again, in fact, she will be providing another blog just prior to Christmas.
We received great news from Aquatera in the past couple of week – they are now collecting alkaline batteries. What is an alkaline battery? It is that battery that you use to operate your remote control, camera, smoke detector, and so on. So rather than throwing those batteries in the landfill now you can save them and take to the Eco Centre on your next trip.
Other recycling news is the Alberta Government is looking for your input on proposed changes to Alberta’s regulatory framework for designated recycling materials. Alberta has the highest waste disposal rate in the country, in 2010 we sent 4 million tonnes to landfills. This number includes industrial waste, which is a large component of our waste stream. We do need to make some changes and reduce what is going into our landfills. You can download the workbook and provide your comments on the changes. The comments that they are looking for are on topics such as expanding the electronics recycling program; environmental fees; designation of packaging and printed paper and designation of household hazardous waste. You can provide responses to all or just one of the sections. All feedback must be submitted by December 13, 2013.
The Show Us Your Lunch Campaign got off to a slow start but picked up speed and we had quite a few submissions. Congratulations to everyone who participated – collective small steps can make a big difference! We also had eight businesses express interest in recycling bins, we have applied for a grant to obtain more bins.
So in November we have a few projects going on. Council has appointed two Councillors (one newly elected and one incumbent) external committees, Peace Airshed Zone Association and Might Peace Watershed Alliance. We will be working with both Councillor McLean and Thiessen to ensure they have all the background information they need to be part of these organizations.
We also will be attending the Enbridge Northern Gateway Peace Country Community Advisory Board meeting and the Wapiti River Water Management Plan Committee. The Department represents the City in these organizations.
We are also working on compiling a greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory for the Partners as we strive to complete milestone one in the Partners for Climate Protection Program. Once we have completed the GHG inventory for the organization we will be working on the community inventory.
We are also working on updating our web pages. If you have an idea of what we need to include on our pages – please let us know. You can also sign up for alerts and as we post news items you will get the information delivered right into your inbox!
Next week is Waste Reduction Week in Canada. Any ideas of what you can do to reduce your waste? At a recent Recycling Council of Alberta Conference statistics were shared showing Alberta as the lead in per capita waste generation in the country. Not a great statistic to be the lead of. There a several reasons for that, one being that we produce a large of amount of industrial waste and that is included in the statistic. Grande Prairie is no different than the rest of the province, approximately 25% of the waste going to the landfill is residential, the balance is from the ICI sector (Industrial, Commercial, Institutional). So, we are doing pretty good at home but we definitely need to strive for improvement in our workplace. We have a couple of ideas.
Results from a recent waste audit showed that Grande Prairie is the lead (again, not necessarily where we want to be) in throwing refundable beverage containers (juice boxes, pop bottles, milk containers, etc) in the garbage. This audit was done on garbage bins collected from the ICI sector. Do you have a way to separate and return beverage containers in your workplace? Alberta Beverage Container Recycling Corporation has set up a website to help set up such a program lovetorecycle.ca . And, if you are interested in setting up a sorting system, we may be able to help you. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 780.538.0385 for more information – but – we only have 3 bins so don’t wait too long!
Another question we have is if you eat your lunch at work do you use reusable containers? If yes, you need to “Show us Your Lunch”! If you don’t here is a one time incentive to try using reusable containers. We are asking people to send us a photo of themselves and their lunch. Your lunch needs to be in a reusable containers (lunch bag, reusable mug, container, etc). To enter you can post the photo on our facebook page or send to us at email@example.com . Each person is allowed to make 1 submission and qualifying entries will be placed in a draw for 1 of 3 $100.00 gift certificates.
I attended the Recycling Council of Alberta Conference this week. My number one take away from this conference is that we need to start looking at our purchases and ask “do we really need this?” Reducing the waste we produce is where we should start rather than justifying our purchases with the fact that the product is recyclable. There were some really great presentations. One that made an impression was the Calgary Folk Festival. They have done a lot of work on waste reduction at the event. Their focus has moved to creating less waste rather than focus on recyclables. Here are some of the steps they have taken
- banned the sale of bottled water on the site. Water is available (free) in water buggies to refill reusable water bottles
- provided bike lock up stations for both guests and volunteers
- provided reusable dishes to vendors for a deposit, when the dishes are returned they are washed and the deposit is returned to the vendor
- all vendors not using reusable dishes must use compostable dishware
It would be interesting to see if some of these items could be implemented at one of our festivals or events.
So, what can you do? Well I thought about some small steps that could be taken to reduce waste – not just recycle. Here is the list:
- do you receive flyers you don’t read – you just move them from your mail to the recycle bin? If you do contact our department and we will provide you with a no unaddressed mail sticker. A small simple step that will help to reduce the paper being used unnecessarily.
- When making purchases check to see if the product contains or is made of recycled material.
- Landscaping use the mulch that is located at the community garden. It is a local product so has a very small carbon footprint, reduces costs for the City and best of all it is free!
- Do you go to a coffee place and get a coffee to go? Take your own reusable travel mug – most places will give you a discount for bringing your mug.
This is a timely topic as October 21 – 27 is Waste Reduction Week. Think about it and try to make a commitment on what kind waste reduction step you can make over the next year.
Canada is a leader in waste generation in the world, AB generates more per capita than anywhere else in Canada #2013RCA