Waste Audit: Consumer waste
The landlords who live upstairs made an effort to inform me of the garbage and recycling pick-up days upon moving in to their basement. They even provided a calendar with the Fridays and Tuesday marked with a legend.
I was disappointed when I brought up compost pick-up, when they said it hadn’t been started yet for this area. Luckily I found a nice cliff just behind the look-out nearby where I can toss my compost every other day under the disguise of darkness.
Two weeks went by and I visited them upstairs for a separate matter and they wasted no time in asking me if I had forgotten the days for trash pick-up. Two of us downstairs had not created enough garbage to make it worth the garbage-mans time to stop the truck, get out, and dump our regular sized garbage can. The same goes for my recycling, two of us that eat the way we do, and consume less junk than the average person just don’t create enough recycling to fill the blue box every week. I took their concern as a compliment, and understood that as a family of five, living in the suburbs of Langford, they create an obscene amount of waste.
I see it every Tuesday, not one blue box per driveway but up to 5 or even 6 blue boxes, crammed with packaging from food and other items. I see 2-3 garbage cans at the ends of most driveways in this area. At first I was thinking, it was because of the holidays, or the house had been saving up in the gigantic garage for a few weeks. No, this happens every week. My neighbours need their own landfill. But is it their fault entirely? Depending on how a family eats, they might have pizza boxes, or fast food containers within other containers, within a paper bag. Or they might have a healthier diet with abundance of fruits and vegetables, therefore creating compost as waste. Remember that the compost would have to be put in the garbage as well.
Victoria’s Landfill is currently phasing out kitchen scraps from the ‘accepted’ list in a few years citizens could be fined if they send compostable scraps to the landfill. This is a great step forward, that will push the municipalities like mine to adopt a compost pick-up to diver that compost to a digester somewhere.
Two of us live in my basement suite and we definitely couldn’t cut our waste down much more. Typically the meat my boyfriend eats once or twice a week comes with some Styrofoam and plastic wrap, we recycle a lot of yogurt containers since we forgot our homemade yogurt maker in Revelstoke. It takes us over a week to fill a small grocery bag with trash….and usually we just take it out because it got stinky. The majority of our waste is compost that fortunately ends up over the cliff nearby. Obviously it would be preferable to use this compostable material to make a nutrient rich soil, but living in this part of town makes that impossible. Therefore we can only refuse to send it to the landfill wrapped in plastic.
We are very conscientious consumers, avoiding excessive packaging 90% of the time, and when those choices are combined with our lifestyle and diet, a small waste stream is the bonus.
The waste that we do produce, cannot be composted, and cannot be recycled, so what is it? It’s packaging. Usually pointless and encouraged by our government with laws a regulations for goods to have a label:
Guide to Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act Regulations
The “dealer” is the person who is a retailer, manufacturer, processor or producer of a product, or a person who is engaged in the business of importing, packing or selling a product.
The above act covers the utmost detail on label sizing, necessity of labeling, and packaging of non-food products unless they fall under exemptions – our government has made goods require labels and packaging.
With respect to Packaging in particular within the above Act, the requirements are fill level, package design and display (with regards to misleading consumers on fill level) and standards to package sizing only for a few items.
One would think that with the widespread knowledge of the vortexes of plastic in our oceans and the accumulation of trash in landfills – packaging legislation such as the one above, would offer within it a requirement of biodegradability, or at least minimize the pure quantity of allowable packaging of every product.
The packaging in the grocery store (depending on where you shop) can be ridiculous, as well as the bagging habits of the cashier. No thank you I don’t want the already packaged soap, in a double mini-bag to keep my canned goods from tasting soapy….no thanks again.
If you can’t live off your land, you are a victims of the packaging Canada demands and that the ‘dealer’ creates to make the good seem “safe”. In many other countries, a market place often lacks packaging of any sort, though plastic bags are handed out like candy.
Our society needs to engage in making better consumer decisions for items with minimal packaging. The Guide to Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act needs to be proactively reviewed, and the manufacturers need to be held accountable for distributing masses of use-less, one-time use items wrapped in one-time use packaging that is accumulating in our oceans and backyards.
The Guide above was retrieved from this website.