From guest blogger Nicholas Schmidtke, BA Philosophy, Ethics and Public Affairs, who lives in Ottawa
The other day I was leaving a fast food joint with some friends when I noticed one of them was about to throw a plastic water bottle in the trash instead of the recycling bin. When I asked him to use the recycling bin, he asked why, and I realized that I didn’t have a complete enough answer to give him. Having now given the issue some thought, I have prepared a couple of reasons to recycle.
Reason no. 1:
The less we recycle, the more we have to put into landfill sites, which take up valuable green-space for years to come. According to the city of Ottawa website, “Ottawa residents generate approximately 330,000 tonnes of waste each year, much of it recyclable. This is equal to filling Scotiabank Place 160 times each year with garbage.”
The Trail Road site currently has enough capacity to last for the next 10 to 40 years, depending on the amount of waste diverted through recycling and other programs. The following numbers reflect the growth and projected growth of the Trail Road landfill site from 1980 to 2005 (from the Peace and Environment Resource Centre website):
- 25 hectares (the size of Dow’s Lake) received waste from 1980 until 1986
- 16 hectares (a little larger than Parliament Hill) received waste from 1986 until 1991
- 14 hectares (19 football fields) was opened in 1991 and was expected to be filled by the late 1990s.
- 12 hectares was expected to be opened in the late 1990s and filled by 2005
These numbers may seem insignificant when taking into account the amount of space we have in Canada. However, when looking at ways to reduce our ecological footprint, every bit helps, and reducing our need for landfill space is an easy reduction.
Reason no. 2:
Habitat loss due to the harvesting of natural resources is a major factor in the worldwide disappearance of species, not to mention that denuded landscapes make for poor aesthetics. By recycling, we reduce our need for the harvesting of primary resources such as trees, metals and oil, thereby keeping more wild-lands intact. According to the City, “aluminum, steel and some types of glass can be recycled indefinitely. Today most car parts, t-shirts, parkas, sleeping bags, home insulation, garden furniture, playground equipment, CDs, and more are made from recycled materials!”
It would be a stretch to say that we can live without mining and other forms of harvest, but given the current state of technology there is a lot we can do to reduce these activities simply by taking the time to put our waste in the appropriate container.
See the City’s website for a list of everything accepted for recycling:
Nick can be contacted at: nick_s._001 at hotmail dot com