Day 1: Feb. 3
Today is the first day of RecycleMania, an event held in universities across the country to promote sustainability and waste reduction. I’ve pledged to live waste-free for the entire duration of RecycleMania meaning from today until March 30th, I will throw NOTHING in the garbage!
I’m nearly one day in and so far so good! I had a couple close calls ending with having to fish tissues/cotton balls out of the trash (my own trash, luckily) and put them in their rightful place (my compost bin!).
I think Google will be my best friend throughout all of this. Every phrase I’ve searched today has begun with “can you recycle/compost ___?”. Carrying a reusable bag is also a must. Public compost bins are few and far between (even recycling bins can be rare!) so I’ve been chucking all of my things in a bag and carting them back to campus where I can dispose of them properly.
So far my only two stumbling blocks have been gum wrappers and the stickers on all of my fruit. Even my faithful friend, Google has given me only negative answers here. But then I remembered- if they can’t be recycled, maybe they could be reused! I’m not sure what to do with the stickers but I’ve seen people make some pretty cool origami using gum/candy wrappers so back to Google I go to find some tutorials!
Good luck to all of my fellow RecycleManiacs!
PS: Here’s a really great list of 75 things that you may not think of as compostable but in fact are!
Day 2: Feb. 4I’m quickly learning that living waste free does not come without its fair share of awkward situations. Last night, I had just taken all of my clothes out of the dryer and cleaned out the mass of lint only to realize I couldn’t simply chuck it in the garbage like any normal person. I had read earlier that dryer lint can be composted but that meant walking out of the laundry room and down the hall with a fist full of lint, looking like some freaky lint collector. I waited until everyone else in the room seemed sufficiently occupied then balled up the lint and made my dash to the compost.
While getting ready this morning, I was shocked by the things I throw in the garbage without even realizing it. When I decided to live waste free, I ran through all the things I put in the garbage and figured that apart from granola bar wrappers and a few other store-bought things, I never really throw things in the garbage anyway. But after I’d combed out my hair and was about to throw the clump in the trash, I realized how ridiculous that was. I mean, what’s more natural than your own hair? The only downfall to this revelation is that it looks like I’ve composted a small, red animal…looks like I’ll be making the trek down to the composting station to empty my bucket a little more frequently now.
If anyone else at uOttawa wants to take part in RecycleMania (if I haven’t scared you off yet), you can learn all about it and take the pledge here: http://www.sustainable.uottawa.ca/how-can-i-get-involved.html#Take%20the%20pledge
There’re some pretty cool prizes up for grabs!
Day 8: Feb. 10I have officially been waste-free for one week! Overall, it hasn’t been too difficult.
I really didn’t have to make any significant life changes meaning I don’t have to consciously remind myself to recycle/compost. Recycling/composting is a habit and, like any habit one has had for 18 years, it would be pretty hard to break at this point.
I’m really lucky that my parents are so into reducing waste and taught me to do the same. It helps that we’re all extremely frugal and don’t want to pay the $2-per-garbage bag fee (my dad even has his own compost pile [basically his pride and joy] in the back yard since my city doesn’t have the Green Bin program).
But after talking to some friends from different cities, it seems that paying for your garbage to be taken away is actually pretty rare. I found that shocking- what’s to discourage people from embracing their laziness and just throwing EVERYTHING out? If my neighbours at home were already willing to throw away a solid $10 on garbage every week, imagine what they’d do if it was free??
I’ll need to do some research into Ottawa’s waste management program before I move out of residence next year. Seeing as two of my future roommates are also Green Reps, we’ll be trying to live as earth-friendly as possible year-round!
Day 56: Mar. 30 (Mission Accomplished!)As RecycleMania ends this weekend, this will be my final blog post about my waste-free experience. These last 56 days have flown by and I can proudly and confidently say, keeping with Campus Sustainability’s theme, that I am breaking up with waste!
As a final celebration of these 2 months, I attended the Earth Hour celebration at Parliament Hill on March 23rd. It was so empowering to be surrounded by like minded people who believe so strongly in raising awareness for environmental sustainability and who, after learning I’d been living waste-free for nearly two months, were impressed by the news rather than just throwing an eye-roll my way like lots of others have.
I will be eagerly awaiting the results of the competition but 5 year champions or not, I am so proud to go to a school that recognizes the importance of our environment. I am so thankful to have been a part of Recyclemania because it has, without a doubt, changed my habits for the better!
I hope everyone else had as great an experience as I did- can’t wait until next year!
***You can read all the in-between stories at Erin's blog
~ erin j - uOttawa student