Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Toronto garbage strike reminds us to reduce waste
For the second time this decade the city of Toronto has killed its summer tourism trade with yet another garbage strike. It has been more than a month since the city's parks and parking lots have been turned into "temporary waste transfer stations." About the best that politicians can do is to tell people to double bag their garbage in an effort to keep the smell down.
Torontonians, reminded on a daily basis that North Americans produce too much waste could soon face health repercussions for the city of three million plus. With the stockpiling of waste comes fertile breeding grounds for rats and mice. Provided with an ample food source rodents are now birthing their first garbage strike induced offspring.
While pest controllers are seeing business pick up so to has environmentalism. Grassroots groups have formed across the city to offer tips and advice. Some groups literally sweep through neighborhoods removing litter in an effort to keep the garbage at bay. Other residents haul their garbage with them on Friday evenings to be disposed of in the municipality of their summer getaway.
George Smitherman, a member of the provincial government, has organized cleanups throughout the city and launched a website for concerned citizens that encourages them to be part of the solution.
OneToronto.ca "is not designed to replace existing services, instead we want to go after spots in our neighborhoods where litter and trash is becoming problematic and unsightly."
One man's garbage is another conglomerate's marketing opportunity. Glad has crews throughout the city handing out free garbage bags. Similar to its efforts in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Glad has distributed more than 25 000 bags and set up a website that offers information on how to manage garbage locally.
The city however, seems no closer to ending the strike of its civic employees. The major fly in the ointment to a deal is that Toronto wants to end the practice of allowing union members to bank sick days. Unused sick days can result in a cash payout equivalent to six month's wages upon retirement.
As the union has no reason to rescind this perk Toronto the Good will remain Toronto the Odoriferous until the city comes up with Plan B.
10 ways to reduce waste
Here are 10 ways you can reduce waste during a garbage strike.
Ditch the paper towels and napkins
Avoid disposable products
Use your own shopping bags
Buy in bulk
Compost your organic waste
Brown bag it to work. Avoid fast food restaurants.
Use a travel mug for that commute cup of joe
Change your habits
Most importantly, buy what you need and use what you buy. You don't need a garbage strike to reduce your carbon footprint.