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Celebrating Waste Reduction Week

By Larraine Roulston:

This month celebrates Waste Reduction Week (WRW). In Canada, the event falls during October 16-22. The UK gears up for its European Week for Waste Reduction during November 18-26. These annual events promote building environmental awareness around issues of sustainable and responsible consumption. It is a week of education and events demonstrating methods of how to reduce waste in all facets of our daily lives.

In Canada, the movement began as early as the mid-1980s when a number of recycling councils and environmental groups across the country began holding events. By bonding together to share resources, their expanded efforts resulted in announcing a national annual official week scheduled prior to Halloween — a perfect time to promote safe homemade makeup for face painting, costumes from either your closet or a thrift store, tips to host a zero waste party and, finally, composting the Jack-O’Lantern.

To launch the week, many city councilors officially issue a WRW proclamation. They may also sell composts at a subsidized rate and offer free compost to residents. This year, Canada’s recycling councils have designated the following theme events for each day:

  1. Monday: The Circular Economy
  2. Tuesday: Textiles
  3. Wednesday: Champions and Innovators
  4. Thursday: Plastics
  5. Friday: Food Waste
  6. Saturday/Sunday: Swap, Share, Repair

Individuals & Organizations can become involved by

– Hosting a zero waste event.

– Setting out unwanted “Free 2 You” items at curbside for those passing   by to pick up. This is also referred to as “Freecycle.”

– Organizing a neighborhood drive for scrap metal or textiles.

– Setting up a 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) display at community   centers or other public locations.

Teachers often gather ideas from online educational environmental resource kits. Many schools participate in the waste-free lunch challenge where monetary prizes are distributed for the best diversion efforts in composting organics and eliminating unnecessary packaging.

During the week, students can also become engaged by

– Attending a WRW assembly that can include a toy and book swap.

– Designing posters.

-Writing letters to political leaders and newspaper editors about the  importance of protecting the environment.

– Practicing public speaking on the PA system to announce recycling  facts or create short 3Rs skits.

– Learning to vermicompost by obtaining red wiggler worms.

– Inviting guest speakers from local businesses that are leaders in recycling and who are advancing towards the circular economy.

– Gathering items such as corks, bits of packaging, egg cartons, paper  cylinders, etc., to create artwork.

– Touring a recycling depot or a composting facility.

-With resources and videos available to businesses, the week provides a perfect opportunity to demonstrate their commitment towards sustainability. Employees within their workplaces, if they have not already do so, can continue to become more sustainable by

– Discussing their company’s role in advancing the circular economy.

– Conducting a waste audit.

– Replacing large garbage cans with recycling bins, and placing organics  collection bins in their cafeterias.

– Bringing a reusable mug for daily beverages.

– Investigating low carbon power sources which have a minimal output of  greenhouse gas emissions.

This decade, make every week WRW!

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Larraine writes children’s illustrated books on composting and nature’s pollinators. Fun and Factual.  Visit, www.castlecompost.com

About Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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