The week of October 15–21, 2012 is Waste Reduction Week (WRW) in Canada. Founded in 2001, WRW was born of the collective efforts of a number of local and regional recycling councils and environmental groups who wanted to pool their resources and expand their reach into one national event targeted at reducing household waste.
According to the WRW website, Canadians create 1030 kg of waste per person each year. Over 75% of this waste is piling up in landfills across the country. If every Canadian took one small action to reduce their daily waste, these numbers would drop drastically.
Are you up for the challenge? If so, here are 10 simple things you can do to reduce your household waste:
Recycle. If you aren’t recycling, start now. Anything made of cardboard, paper, plastic and tin should go in blue bins.
Compost. You don’t need to have a green thumb to compost. Simply toss your food scraps, coffee grinds, egg shells, yard waste and any other naturally degradable materials into your compost bin and off you go! Come next spring, you will have your own lawn and garden fertilizer.
Say goodbye to bottled water. While plastic water bottles can be recycled, they take a very long time to biodegrade and just end up sitting in landfills for years.
Invest in reusable bags. Most grocery stores have started charging for plastic bags in an effort to reduce their use and to free up landfill space, so consider investing in reusable shopping bags.
Enough with packaged goods. So many of the products we buy today come in packages. This excess packaging not only takes up valuable landfill space but also increases the overall cost of the product. Instead of picking up a box of cookies at the grocery store, consider visiting your local bakery or making your own. Not only will you help the environment but you’ll save money too.
Clean those closets. Consider cleaning out those closets, storage rooms and garage, and donate any unused items to local thrift stores, shelters or charities.
Recycle your batteries. Did you know that the average person owns 10 batteries at any given time and throws out about eight batteries a year? Batteries contain materials that can be very harmful to the environment and should be properly disposed of. Battery recycling centres can be found across Canada. To find the nearest location, click here. Many of these centres will also accept unused or broken cell phones too.
Light Bulb Recycling. Like batteries, light bulbs also contain materials that can be very harmful to the environment. They too can be taken to specific stores such as IKEA and Home Depot, for example, for proper disposal.
Make your own all-purpose cleaner. Instead of buying several different types of cleaning products, consider making one that will clean everything. For your own all-purpose cleaner, mix 1 gallon hot water, ¼ cup ammonia, ¼ cup vinegar and 1 tbsp baking soda. This cleaner is safe enough to be used on most surfaces and rinses easily with water. To clean windows and glass, mix 3 tbsp of white vinegar with two cups of warm water in a spray bottle. Not only will this action cut down on your household waste, but your family won’t be breathing in any of the toxic chemicals found in many of today’s cleaning products.
Go Paperless. Cutting down on your paper trail is another great way to reduce your household waste. If you haven’t already, make the switch to paperless billing and consider doing all your bill payments and banking online.
Here at Reliance, there are a number of things we are doing and will continue to do to help our customers reduce and dispose of waste in a safe and environmentally sound way. For example, mercury was commonly used as the operating medium in old thermostats. When we install new HVAC equipment in our customers’ homes, we also include a state-of the-art programmable thermostat and collect the old ones in bins situated at all our branches for safe disposal.
Another action we are taking that is required by law is the recovery of air conditioner refrigerants such as freon when servicing AC equipment. Because these refrigerants are known to cause damage to the ozone layer, they cannot be vented into the atmosphere. As such, our technicians are specifically trained to meet and often exceed strict guidelines through the documentation of their efforts at our branches to ensure proper ventilation is in place. In addition, when disposing of old AC equipment, Reliance goes the extra mile to recover refrigerant lubricants from vacuum pumps in AC systems for proper recycling.
Being environmentally responsible is a duty we owe to ourselves and the community, and we continuously evaluate opportunities to help the cause.
For more information about Waste Reduction Week and how you can get involved, go to www.wrwcanada.com.