Reduce, Reuse, and then Recycle!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

garbage bags, recycling bin, green,

The Burger family (Chris and Cindy) of Whitney Point, NY, produce less than a bag of garbage together in a year (about 12 ounces of garbage per person per year). To put things in perspective, on the uOttawa campus, employees and students (grad + undergrad + international + employees = 45289*) create 2 385 402 pound of waste a year, which means on average the uOttawa population produces 52.7 pounds of waste every year and most students are only on campus eight months of the year.

That said, the University of Ottawa operates over 18 waste diversion programs. For example, there is traditional paper recycling (about 28% of all recycling), metal and commercial glass products, and more recent ones like the all plastics recycling, YES ALL OF THEM. In recent years, uOttawa also entered the Recyclemania challenge, initiated the Dump & Run program, as well as the furniture recycling program, which  has avoided costs of close to $500,000**. This is part of why the University of Ottawa is sooooo awesome!

There are many ways you can divert waste that are pretty simple. Chris Burger’s personal philosophy, “If you take something into your life, you are responsible for it. If you don't want the responsibility, don't buy the item."
He adds, "And responsibility does not end when the trash is taken to the curb.”*** But for things that you are responsible for (since you bought them) here are a few tips to divert your waste:

  • Buy second hand: In Ottawa, there are many websites that sell second hand things for instance: Used Ottawa and Kijiji, for various second hand things such as kids toys and clothing, decoration items and much more. Visit the Canpage website to see all the Ottawa listings.
  • Students and community members, uOttawa now has a permanent Freestore that will be open soon full of second hand things in great condition. Don’t hesitate to come by! 
  • Compooooooooooooost! : There are no reasons why composting shouldn’t be an everyday task. Compost bags may seem expensive (around $3/5 bags) but consider that 1 bag a week is less than $1 a week. If you’re not willing to pay that much here’s a short video that explains how to make your own bags with used newspapers: , if she can do it, I’m pretty sure you can!

    By the way, the smell of compost bothers you, I’ve got the perfect trick for you; I use this glass jar (cost about $15-20 but well worth it). It doesn't smell at all and doesn’t mould.

    glass, compost, jar

  •  Buy in bulk from the grocery store and bring your own Tupperware/bags. 
  • Bring your own Tupperware if you’re getting “take-out” or even better, eat out less! 
  • Bring all containers (egg carton, styrafome containders, etc) back to the store or go to a store that takes it (Herb & Spice, on bank streen at Gilmour). In the case of egg cartons, you can donate your empty cartons to the SFUO Food Bank
  • Getting a cold and having allergies is bad on your trash… either compost your used Kleenex or even better, go old school and use a handkerchief (you can get them by the dozen at Sears) 
  • PRECYCLE... If it isn’t recyclable, don’t buy it! 

If you have any questions about tips for better recycling or anything related, please contact us. Even better, if you have any tips or comments, PLEASE COMMENT AND SHARE, WE ARE ALWAYS OPEN TO SUGGESTIONS!


~ alex – campus sustainability coordinator
photo credit - jonathan rausseo 

* Fact Book, Institutional Research & Planning, University of Ottawa,, 2011-2012 statistics, consulted on 22/05/2012.

** Campus sustainability report 2011, Office of Campus Sustainability, University of Ottawa,, report consulted on 22/05/2012.

*** Beckwith, Donna, No garbage Family: Meet The Family That Doesn’t Take Out Its Trash, Green Canada, Huff Post, article read on 22/05/2012.

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