Monday 10 December 2012

Ontario deserves the bottle-return deposit program!

I just returned from my daily walk.  Have you heard?   Fifteen minutes of Vitamin D a day, keeps the doctor away.  You will never guess what I found.  A triple A battery thrown on the ground as though it were worthless.  It confirmed for me right then that it’s time for part 2 of “Good Recycling can get better”.

On this brisk Sunday afternoon in December, I was already keeping the count in my head--and the count was high today.  You see, this lack of a bottle deposit thing in Ontario has been eating at me for so long, that I keep a mental count without even trying, of how much money I could make if the deposit system were still in practice in Ontario.  Today was about $3 and that’s without even venturing into the ditch.  I’ve been stewing about this for so long, that I even have a very feasible idea for a fun video game the Ontario government can use to introduce the program.   Gamer would  search around a neighborhood, rural area, or building looking for recyclables.  I’m picturing a really cool sound effect as you pick up the can and pop it in your sac.  Of course a tally would be kept to tell you how well you’re doing.  At the end, when you’ve finished your search you can use those points to create anything from a fleece jacket to a house.  I think I could find someone to donate their time for this project—I have a few ‘techies’ in mind even as I write this. 

This letter is going out to the hunters I know, the lovers of fishing I know, the beach going sunbathers, the hikers and the boaters.  This letter is going out to every single one of us who loves to enjoy what grows out of the ground.  This letter is going out to the farmers and the gardeners, the landscapers and the golf course owners.  This letter is going out to every single one of us who profits in some way by what grows out of the ground.  This letter is going out to every single one of us who breathes oxygen.  To everyone who likes to smell the daisies and feel the grass between their toes.

The time has come where we have to stop using our whole planet as a garbage dump.  That’s almost to imply that it would be better in one big pile, but that doesn’t work either does it?  Where will the pile go?  And let me remind you that our landfills are a mixture of organic and inorganic material.  That means that more than half of the garbage will never decompose.  It will never break down, never feed anything else, never even change its shape!   

New Rule: Every manufacturer who sells a product in a non-bio-degradable container, should put a deposit on it.  When we the consumers are done with said container, we return it for that deposit.  Where do we return it?  Well I’ll turn that over to the Government of Canada’s powers that be.  

When my last letter was read by Ted Hsu MP for Kingston and the Islands, he said that "perhaps we could look at expanding the Ontario Deposit Return Program for bottles that currently applies only to alcoholic beverages".  We already pay anywhere from five to forty cents on our bottles of alcohol.  And we pay it gladly, because our Government has made it so.  And that’s been a great success at over 85% return rate through the years!!  Let’s expand that to aluminum cans and bottles with the end game being applied to every single piece of plastic and tin on the market.   Is it too much to ask that the people who profit from the sale of products in recyclable containers be held responsible to some extent for what happens when it’s empty?  I don’t think so.  For the good of the sacred economy, we could even implement some tax breaks I’m sure.

Back to the beach-bunnies and kids who enjoy making sand castles in Picton, someday very soon it won’t be safe or enjoyable to do that.  The hunters will have nothing to hunt, the anglers nothing to angle.  The farmers and gardeners will find it ever more difficult to grow good crops.  The golfers will have to golf on dirt—ouch!  And the landscapers will be cutting lawns with wipper-snippers because the grass won’t grow like it used to.  Oxygen?  Can that be man-made?

For the sake of what grows out of the ground, please voice your desire for the implementation of a deposit system in Ontario. 

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Recycling ... the big hoax.

     Walking back from the store just now, I noticed two batteries on the ground within the span of a few steps.  I thought it funny to consider that in other countries, four year olds would be fighting over that valuable find.  Those things are worth something, and yet in Canada we throw them in the trash like they are worthless.  As some of my friends know, I take particular offense to this because I realize how much damage batteries do to our planet when they are not properly disposed of.

The same could be said for much of the trash I see around.  I walk through a high school football field daily to the store or to catch the bus, and I could easily make a few bucks a day simply by collecting the bottles and cans for their deposit.  Except here in Ontario, we don’t do that anymore.  If I lived in Quebec, I and any other tree-huggers could help fight pollution and make some spare change at the same time!  The jig is up….cans and bottles are worth money or they wouldn’t collect them at the curb. 

This brings me to another beef I have with Ontario; recycling in general.  Don’t get me wrong, as many people know, I live and breathe recycling.  And based on the number of blue and grey bins on the curb each week, I am not alone.  I even noticed how neatly my neighbor bound his cardboard last week!  We are a people who want recycling to work.  We see the value in it.  And even though we live in a relatively clean Country, we still see that the need is greater than what we see in our own back yards.  As strange as this sounds, I feel a wave of pride each week when I see all of my neighbors dedicating time to mother nature, and don’t even get me started on the recycling stations I see popping up at even privately owned stores and restaurants!  How great!

You can imagine my despair and sheer and utter disgust when I realized that none of my Governmental industries recycle….at all.  Our Prisons’ kitchens do not recycle.  Our military kitchens do not recycle.  So this got me searching and questioning and what I found was even more depressing.   The recycling stations at your local coffee shop are great in theory, but like so many other programs these days they are really quite a joke.  These bins are not especially user-friendly, and so customers simply throw their waste in whichever bin is closest.  The workers at said coffee shop are not permitted to remove recyclables from the trash.  Therefore if there is even one tissue in the bin for cans and bottles, the whole thing will be trashed.  I wonder if the Government gives them some credit for those bins?  

Let’s look at another polluter.  Grocery and convenience stores throw out immense numbers of plastic garbage.  They would surely set up systems to follow if they were given credit for recycling.  As it stands today, it costs money for stores to recycle.  They have to pay a company to come and pick recyclables up.  What corporation is going to give even a few hundred dollars a year to do something that they don’t have to do?  Unfortunately, it all comes down to the bottom line.  I get that.  I really do.  So why not give some credit to your citizens to have enough pride to pick up trash for money.  Money that they can spend thereby fueling the oh so important economy.

We have now pulled out of the Kyoto program, saving Canada millions of dollars.  Why not spend a tiny drop of that money and initiate a program to inspire your people to clean up the province for you!   At minimum wage, a person would have to pick up about 103 ten cent cans or bottles per hour.  Wow … that’s what I call productivity and a wage well spent!  To illustrate better, at this very moment I could walk across that field and pick up at least fifty recyclable cans and bottles in a matter of about fifteen minutes.
I would like to close by thanking all of my neighbors and fellow Ontarians for doing their part each week and each day to keep the outdoors clean.  But I would also like to compel you to demand better!  We live in the greatest country on the planet.  Let’s demand that it is kept clean!