Keep Your Recycling Clean

Chief Security Officer and Assistant Recycling Inspector

There was interesting link posted in the Stratford Free Press Facebook Group today, leading to a CBC article about the dangers of sloppy recycling. In case you didn’t read it, here are the high points:

Problems:

  • contamination dramatically increases recycling costs
  • even a few spoonfuls of peanut butter or a gob of yogurt left in a jar can contaminate a tonne of paper
  • even a coffee stain can make a sheet of paper unrecyclable
  • many places can’t recycle black plastic
  • dirtiest cities are Toronto and Edmonton, where contamination rates can be up to 25%

Solutions:

  •  better sorting regulations. Clean cities like St. John’s and Vancouver sell their recyclables at a higher price, because they have stricter rules
  • change the list of accepted items
  • upgrade plants
  • educate residents

This all sounds good to me, but I notice the article didn’t say much about other ways of dealing with what we discard. Maybe we should tell our provincial and municipal representatives that we support them in their efforts to reduce waste. Maybe we should look for alternatives to disposables. And maybe we should stop meekly accepting purchases wrapped in toxic, non-recyclable plastic that cuts your fingers when you try to open them.

Or maybe we should do what these people did:

My New Year’s Resolution

Twenty seven pelicans saved from impalement

Sometimes the most effective change starts really small.

Today I went through the entire house and collected all the pens that no longer work. Twenty seven of them, in fact. These have been accumulating because of my fear that any pen I throw out will eventually wind up skewering some innocent pelican somewhere. So I have been keeping them in odd places around the house. This has been going on too long, and I am worried about becoming one of those hoarder ladies you read about in the paper.

I took all the dry Sharpies, and promised myself never to buy another one. I took all those nice pens I got from the bank. I took all the pens I get in the mail from charities (shame on you, charities!). I even took that really cool chunky silver pen I got at a conference years ago, and had been keeping in case I could figure out how to refill it. I put them all in a nice recyclable can, and when the can is full I will put them in a paper bag, write “recycle” on it, and take it to Staples on Ontario Street, which has an excellent writing tools recycling programme.

I cannot tell you how much better I feel after this 15-minute activity. I don’t know if it’s my feng shui, my chi, or my karma, but it feels very good.

I did keep the mechanical pencils, though. I know it’s unrealistic, but I do believe that someday, somehow, I will learn how to make them work.

Happy New Year, everybody!

 

Alas, Poor Periwinkle . . .

 

Since I’ve made the decision to become a Greener and Completely Better Person I’ve had a lot of tough decisions to make. One of the hardest has been the problem of my old friend, the periwinkle.  Now, I just love periwinkle.  I love the cheerful blue flowers at the beginning of summer, I love the dark shiny leaves, and I love the fact that you just can’t kill it, no matter how neglectful you are. It just trudges along, rain or shine, spreading out gracefully and replacing that nasty grass. And the name—I mean, how cute is that?

But periwinkle, you may be surprised to learn, is an invasive species, and as I’ve made a vow never to buy invasive species, I could never get it for my garden. Unfortunately, my periwinkle is inherited. It was here when we moved, and the first spring in Stratford, it was about the only thing in the garden to greet me with a cheery smile. I didn’t have the heart to kill it. Besides, it has sneaked into my garden under the neighbour’s fence, so I know it’s up to no good over there as well. I think I will take the advice from this website, and just contain it as much as possible.

Berberis_thunbergii_(3)

Barberry leaves and berries

I feel guilty about this, but its not as if I had planted Japanese Barberry. Now THERE’S a plant that will keep you awake at night. Japanese Barberry is an extremely attractive plant, with bright red berries, easy to prune, and because it has spiny leaves, deer don’t eat it. This all sounds great, until you learn that because the deer eat other plants instead, Japanese Barberry is spreading rapidly, blanketing the forest floor. But even worse, the thick leaves of the barberry are an ideal home for ticks. I read an article a little while ago that said these plants can carry more than ten times as many Lyme-infected ticks! Just thinking about kids playing around those bushes makes me shudder.

Berberis_thunbergii_`Atropurpureum`

Japanese barberry                        (Berberis thunbergii)

If you, too, are trying to be a Greener and Completely Better Person, here’s a list of invasive species to keep out of your garden. And if you were surprised about any of this information, it’s probably because you have seen these plants at local nurseries—Klomp’s and Cozyn’s both carry them, and I’m sure they’re not the only ones. You wouldn’t think that a nursery would sell plants that were bad for public health and the environment. I guess there are no government regulations to guide them.

Crazy world, eh?

 

Further reading:

Japanese Barberry: A Threat to Public Health

Barberry, Bambi and bugs: The link between Japanese barberry and Lyme disease

Images: Wikipedia