How much waste do you produce in a day? A year? Your lifetime? I
f you live in Canada, chances are it’s a lot.
In 2008, Canadians threw away an average of 777 kg of landfill and other waste per person.
Halton residents did a little better (in 2014) at 440 kg per person. Of that, 175 kg went straight to the landfill. That’s a pretty good rate of waste diversion – we’re recycling and composting about 60% of what we throw away – but that’s still a lot of garbage.
Not only is the world becoming overpopulated by people, it’s becoming overpopulated by our trash. And our trash will still be there long after we’re gone.
How are we consuming so much? We live in such a fast-paced society where convenience is everything and many products are outdated almost the moment they hit the shelves. Our garbage is made up of old clothing and furniture, discarded building materials, broken toys, outdated electronics, diapers and hygiene products, food packaging, gift packaging, household item packaging, packaging, packaging, and more packaging.
Can we do anything about it? Should we bother?
At Halton Green Screens, we think that yes, we can and should do something about it! It is challenging to reduce (and dare I say eliminate?) waste from within a wasteful system, so we have aptly named our initiative the #HaltonWasteChallenge. We launched the year-long challenge in conjunction with two screenings of the film “The Clean Bin Project”, where a couple compete against each other to:
Not produce any landfill waste for a year. Keep any landfill waste they do produce and weigh it at the end of the year.
Say “no” to excess packaging, even if it is recyclable.
Not buy any “stuff”.
One small item can make a difference. Commit!
I am personally doing the same challenge, and inviting everyone in Halton to join me by choosing one small thing to commit to for the year. I will be publicly weighing my landfill waste at our waste-themed film screenings in October 2016.
My story has a bit of a twist though: I am pregnant, and will be having a baby halfway through the challenge, so I am making an exception to the “no buying stuff” rule, but only for second-hand baby items and maternity clothes.
One of the reasons it’s so important to transition to a waste-free society is so we leave behind a planet that will be safe and healthy for future generations. Children should grow up in a world where one can breathe the air, drink the water, and eat the food without fear of illness or conflict. A world that is not filled up with garbage.
Join the #HaltonWasteChallenge and start with one small thing. Be forgiving of yourself – even if your contribution feels insignificant, just remember you are part of a larger movement!
Even though it feels like a small thing each time someone throws away something small like a straw, it adds up to something huge when millions of people are doing it. The same is true when we each commit to one small, positive change.
Have you ever measured what you’re throwing to the curb?
You can follow my progress with the #HaltonWasteChallenge on our blog, on social media, or by coming out to our film screening events (click here for info). Our next screening is “The True Cost”, a film about the social and environmental impacts of the “fast fashion” industry, on Thursday January 14, 2016 at Film.ca Cinemas in Oakville.•
Heather Govender, OCT, is the Program Coordinator for Halton Green Screens, a non-profit organization that aims to inspire environmental stewardship through film. HGS holds film screening events followed by workshops or discussions in communities and schools throughout Halton Region.