Home Sustainable Okotoks 10 Branches of Sustainability 2. Waste Management
2. Waste Management
Garbage vs. Waste
When it comes to garbage, rubbish, trash, refuse or whatever you may refer to your used unwanted material as, every Okotokian should go through the following thought process before their 'garbage' becomes useless waste.
How should I manage my used materials?
What is the most 'green' ecological way to dispose of each material?
Between each material that you analyze these answers may be very different.
Your garbage is any type of your unwanted matter or material. Your garbage though may not be ready for the landfill as it could have many second lives, through different reuses and/or it may be reprocessed into new materials and products.
Waste is material and matter that has no future reuse or value, due to many different factors, such as inherent hazardous properties and/or limits of current recycling technology. There will still be a few products and materials that we use (roughly 20%) that can not be reused or recycled and have to go to the Landfill for proper disposal. However, if every Okotokian utilizes the 4 R's in the management of their used materials, very little waste should be created. This is where is 'Zero Waste' philosophy comes from.
What is Recycling?
Recycling is the reduction of waste by reusing material (in differing levels of reformation). The recycling mobius symbol depicts the ongoing cycle fundamental to nature. Cycles exist for all the basic elements, however our modern management of garbage defies this natural cycle. To correct this we need to create a closed loop 'garbage reduction cycle' which starts with recycling your materials and purchasing recycled products. To keep the garbage reduction cycle economically viable we must also support it as consumers. It all comes down to changing our routines and habits and starting to think about waste as valuable - economically and environmentally.
Understanding the Symbols
Indicates that a material or product can be recycled. It does not necessarily contain recycled material. For plastic products, a number for the type of plastic will appear in the centre of the mobius.
Means that the product is made from material that has been used before. The percentage of recycled content should be listed in the middle of the mobius.
Content made from reprocessed waste materials. Content is usually measured as a percentage of weight. Material that has completed its life cycle as a consumer item and reconstituted into post-consumer recycled fibre.
By-products generated after the manufacturing process is completed and then reconstituted into pre-consumer recycled material.
Canadians are producing more garbage than ever before. The average Canadian produces about 2.2kg (4.8 lbs) of garbage per day. Most of this consists of recyclable products, paper, plastics and the other products from a disposable, consumer oriented society.
What can we do to move towards this target of zero waste?
Purchase items that use less packaging. You have the most power as a consumer to influence change. Think about where that products that you are buying are coming from, how they were processed, how much recyclable content they contain and how easily they can be recycled.
One persons waste is another persons treasure. Utilize the Okotoks Community Yard Sale in May each year, drop off items in reasonable condition at the Salvage Centre at the Foothills Landfill or at a local donation store or box . A entire e-market has also been created where people buy and sell new and used goods on Craig's List, Ebay and Ecycle.
Recycling extends the life expectancy of our Landfill which is a long term savings for tax payers. Recycled materials are in demand, creating an economic market for innumerable products thus reducing the need for raw materials.