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October Celebrates Waste Reduction Week

By Larraine Roulston.

This year, Waste Reduction Week in Canada (WRW) is celebrated during October 21-27. During the week, the focus on theme days encompasses The Circular Economy, Textile Tuesday, Champions & Innovators, Plastic & Packaging, Food, Shop/Share/Repair, and wraps up with Electronics on Sunday.

As youth are front and center on the political stage, WRW also provides suggestions for teachers who will need to educate with the conservation skills necessary to lead us forward. These proposals include the following:

  • Making recycled paper, which embraces the importance of trees and conservation
  • Designing posters with environmental themes such as bicycling, anti-idling, reducing single-use plastics, composting, avoiding chemical cleaners and pesticides, recycling right and energy/water efficiency — all to be encouraged with fun, catchy slogans
  • Studying the media that uses youth as a target for over-consumption
  • Writing ads that promote ReThinking as “cool”
  • Creating art with discarded resources while examining the packaging materials that were used
  • Researching what different populations discard and discussing the consequences if everyone world-wide had the ecological footprint of North Americans
  • Studying the life cycle of various products. Whether it be a food item or a computer, discover what resources went into its production, packaging and transportation.
  • Learning the benefits of quality compost: lessons in biology learned from acquiring a worm box (vermicomposting) in a classroom
  • Posting conservation reminders on light switches and taps for students to conserve water and electricity
  • Practicing the art of letter writing to address corporate executives and members of Parliament regarding the passion to protect our unravelling ecosystem
  • Seeking community environmental leaders to speak at assemblies
  • Engaging in the classroom WRW “Litterless Lunch Contest.”  This involves weighing and charting the lunch-related non-recyclable packaging trashed during the week. A school contest alsocan include the teachers’ staff room in thecompetition.
  • Encouraging parents to take turns walking youngsters to school: known as the “walking school bus,” the effort avoids driving, which helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Organizing a book/toy swap: with a monetary exchange of under 50 cents, this fun event alsocan be used as a fundraiser to purchase flower seeds for a nature garden.

Because WRW falls just prior to Halloween, it reminds those who enjoy costumes and parties to be mindful of the 3Rs. For dressing up, try borrowing, renting, or checking your closets for old clothes, hats or fabrics. Avoid purchasing cheap costume jewelry, as some have been known to contain lead. Search kitchen cupboards for natural food colors for use as makeup in order to bypass toxic chemicals. Decorate with nature by using branches and leaves. Make paper decorations that can be either reused or recycled. By shopping at thrift stores for some of your Halloween needs, you will be supporting the circular economy, as well as saving money.

Utilize the goodness from your pumpkin by making soups or baked goodies. Roast the seeds and compost what remains.

During WRW, the 3Rs become a part of school and daycare activities as well as Halloween preparations.

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Larraine writes children’s illustrated adventure stories on composting and pollinating. To view, 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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