By Larraine Roulston :
During the third week in October, on both sides of the Atlantic, recycling councils celebrate Waste Reduction Week (WRW). This year, October 17-23 marks the promotion of building environmental awareness around issues of sustainable and responsible consumption. It is a week of information and events about how to reduce waste in all facets of our daily lives.
In Canada, the movement began as Recycling Week during the mid-1980s, when a number of recycling councils and environmental groups across the country started holding events. These organizations joined forces in 2001 to share resources. Their expanded efforts resulted in a national annual event with the official week to fall just prior to Halloween — perfect timing to promote obtaining costumes from either your closet or a thrift store, creating safe homemade makeup for face painting, listing tips to host a zero waste party and, finally, composting the Jack-O’-Lantern.
To launch the week, many city councils, groups, businesses and schools officially declare a WRW proclamation. This is an excellent way for communities to acknowledge their dedication to waste reduction. City representatives and organizations can do the following:
– Offer subsidized composters along with free finished compost from the municipal composting facility.
– Set up a collection drive for used clothing, household items, e-waste, battery, scrap metal or hazardous waste.
– Announce a “Free 2 U’’ day when residents set out unwanted objects at the curb. Items that do not find another home during the designated days can be donated to a thrift store.
– Encourage restaurants to offer drinking straws only upon request.
– Host a zero waste festive event.
For many years, recycling councils have encouraged students to participate. Teachers, librarians and other environmental educators can gather ideas from the School Resource Kit or check the latest update of educational resources and videos. Classroom ideas include these suggestions:
– Participate in a “waste-free lunch challenge’’ with monetary prizes distributed by recycling councils for the best diversion efforts in composting organics and eliminating unnecessary packaging.
– Set up a 3Rs and composting information display.
– Create WRW posters.
– Utilize the PA system to have students announce recycling facts, such as “Each ton (2,000 pounds) of recycled paper can save 17 trees.’’ Students can also read a poem or create short 3Rs skits.
– Invite guest speakers from local businesses that are advancing towards zero waste and from 3Rs environmental organizations.
– Tour a recycling or composting facility.
– Invest time during the week to engage in a waste audit, which will also save money.
– Eliminate staff garbage cans and replace them with recycling bins.
– Challenge fellow employees to bring a reusable mug and a waste-free lunch to work.
– Source out companies like Green Standards Ltd., a specialized environmental firm working with corporations to redistribute office supplies, furniture and equipment that are no longer required.
– Investigate low carbon power sources that have a minimal output of greenhouse gas emissions.
– Learn how your company can get involved with the new circular economy.
– Place a composting collection bin in your cafeteria.
If circumstances make arranging events during WRW difficult, introduce your ideas anytime — with the notion of making every week Waste Reduction Week!
Larraine authors a children’s book series on composting and pollinating at www.castlecompost.com