Always room to improve the three ‘Rs’

I have a love-hate relationship with garbage day.
I’m happy to have purged; to have my blue bag frames emptied and fresh bags inserted. My house feels cleaner, but it is not without trepidation.
I recycle. I know—not exactly worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize but still. I make sure every little piece of paper finds its way to a blue bag.
I try to sort every bit of plastic and metal properly. But sometimes sorting makes me anxious. What if? What if I sort my waste improperly?
Our garbage must be in clear plastic bags so the garbage pick-up people can scrutinize to be sure we don’t have any hazardous waste in them and/or to be sure our garbage has no recyclables in it.
If either happen, the bag gets tagged and left at the curb and we get a letter reminding us of the rules.
It’s a good strategy, and one that I think works or at least helps reduce the amount of garbage going into landfill per household.
Waste Management in the Annapolis Valley has a pretty good track record. The average amount of waste per household in the country is said to be 800 kg/person. Here in the Valley, we produced 316 kg of waste/person in 2013—with the goal set at 300 kg/person by 2015.
Since the 2013 stats were taken, we’ve started recycling Styrofoam. Still on the list is to find solutions for are mattresses, disposable diapers, and clothing.
I am proud of those statistics and it makes me try harder to get my garbage sorting right.
Many domestic and foreign visitors come to the Valley to check out how we do things, and take that information back with them to fine-tune their own municipal waste management systems. That is something worthy of applauding.
After the garbage truck has come and gone every second Tuesday, and all the bags have been picked up from the end of my driveway, I feel as though I’ve won something; some notable prize.
I’m tempted to run through my house with arms stretched over my head belting out Queen’s “We Are the Champions.”
I haven’t actually won anything. There’s always room to improve in the three “Rs” (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle), with reducing being the most important.
I’m great at the recycling. I’m good at the reusing; buying used whenever I can. But my reducing needs work.
I try to buy local wherever possible. I try to resist the urge to buy online, which creates far more waste, recyclable or not, with all the packaging required to get said purchase safely to my door.
We have green bins here and everything I can’t compost for my garden goes into my green bin, and we have a huge composting station that uses this waste to produce compost that then is sold back to the public to cover the costs of producing it.
But after all this, there still is more garbage at my curb than I would like to see.
But last week I was a champion again; all my garbage was picked up as I watched from behind the curtain in my living room. I saw some scrutinizing going on and my heart stopped for a second or two, but then the bags were tossed in the appropriate compartment.
I’m glad the driver paused and examined. It means he is doing his job and if I am doing it wrong, I want to hear about it even if it would come with a large serving of shame.
We are the champions, my friends. And we’ll keep on fighting ’til the end (to borrow Freddie Mercury’s words).
I’m reusing the backs of paper to write this column. I should be knighted.
wendistewart@live.ca

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