Recyclemania was coming up again this year, and I decided to give it a whirl for three weeks – a week longer than I did it last year. In preparation for the event and throughout the three weeks, grocery shopping became a little more arduous – no products with sneaky plastic wrap or Styrofoam (ie. fresh fish and meat) or plastic bags. Luckily, I already use mesh bags instead of the available thin plastic bags to contain fresh fruits and vegetables. I also carry a reusable grocery bag (one of those ones that roll up into a little bundle) with me all the time in case there’s ever an unplanned grocery trip/purchase/need of a bag. For nixing the plastic wrap/foam plates found with fresh meats, simply buy frozen seafood with recyclable plastic packaging, and meats from a butcher – butcher paper is compostable!
In addition to some modifications to my grocery purchases, the disposal of my everyday items needed to be reassessed. Dryer lint? Compostable. Cotton cosmetic pads? Compostable. Vacuum bag and contents? Compostable. Potato bag? Compostable. It was crazy to realize how much could be thrown out on a day-to-day basis without realizing that it could go in the green bin! It goes to show how much people can waste without thinking of the alternatives.
While I concentrated on my own efforts to reduce waste, reuse what I did produce, and recycle the leftovers of my products, my roommates got much better at waste management too. I’m not sure if their improvement is a result of seeing me reconsider my disposal of items, me saying “wait, that’s recyclable!” when they tried to throw something out, them being more aware, or a combination of all three, but I’m glad that other people were improving as well.
All in all, Recyclemania was a good time again this year, and I will continue to work on my waste-reduction efforts. From purchasing decisions through to disposal, we all have choices to make which can impact total outputs of waste. If each University of Ottawa student were to reconsider their actions even a little bit, we can have a huge impact on the amount of waste produced in the city of Ottawa as a whole. So, thanks for the challenge again this year; I will continue to make my contribution to waste reduction and stop my contribution to landfills.
~ courtney g - uOttawa student