Re­duce, re­use, recycle

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - Front Page - Andy Barker Andy Barker can be con­tacted at abdp9@hot­

Andy Barker takes a stand on con­ser­va­tion

Fri­day af­ter­noons at St. Michael’s High School (1960-63) was a shorter school day for those in the school band and army cadets. The lat­ter walked over to the Beau­mont Hamel Ar­moury for drill in­struc­tions, shoot­ing on the range, lec­tures, and pa­rades.

Mil­i­tary pa­rades are al­ways a won­der to watch. Thus, whether you were keen on be­ing a cadet or not, all hands had to march in step; in to­tal unity with each other.

Fit­tingly, June 3-9 is En­vi­ron­ment Week; a toll of the bell, a re­minder, that all hands need to be march­ing in the same step for a cleaner en­vi­ron­ment. To ig­nore the restora­tion task at hand, a more pre­des­tine state of na­ture, is to ig­nore it at our peril.

Be­ing more en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious is like be­ing a cadet; it’s all to do with some­one in com­mand, train­ing, ef­fort, com­mit­ment, and do­ing things right and proper by the book.

A cadet out of step on pa­rade was eas­ily spot­ted. How­ever, the sit­u­a­tion would be short lived and the cadet was quickly brought in line with a “Get in step” com­mand from a fel­low cadet or adult leader.

Sadly, many peo­ple are out of step in care of our en­vi­ron­ment. Ever more sadly is the lack of des­ig­nated of­fi­cials to bring them in line ei­ther by friendly re­minders or by the full weight of the law.

A step in the right di­rec­tion has this prov­ince fi­nally in line with all other prov­inces in re­duc­ing garbage and re­cy­cling. But more re­cy­cling and com­post­ing is yet to be done.

Thank­fully, we are now poisoning less of the land, wa­ter, and air with garbage not of­fi­cially dumped in the ocean; buried in land­fills; or burned in cone shaped burn­ers and open pits.

How­ever, on garbage day it is easy to spot clear bags with re­cy­clable ma­te­ri­als. The easy so­lu­tion is to tag such bags and leave them. No doubt it will slow the sys­tem down for a while, but tardy sorters will get the mes­sage soon enough - get in step - with proper sort­ing or their garbage won’t be picked up.

Plas­tic bags have good uses, but mostly they are an en­vi­ron­men­tal night­mare. Some stores now charge a 5 cent fee per bag. That fee raises the dan­der of some cus­tomers who will leave the store with prod­ucts in their hands; no plas­tic bag. Imag­ine the pos­i­tive reper­cus­sions if it were a leg­is­lated 50 cents per bag. Would you not ex­pect the plas­tic bag prob­lem to pretty well dis­ap­pear?

Mean­while, Coleman’s gives you a nickel credit for each of your own bags you use and Costco uses the card­board boxes (re­cy­clable) for carry out at its stores. Card­board boxes for carry out was once the norm at our lo­cally owned gro­cery stores.

Other norms are the use of paper bags and card­board con­tain­ers at many fast food restau­rants. Why haven’t we moved back to the more eas­ily re­cy­clable paper bags that could po­ten­tially create more forestry re­lated jobs?

The mis­use of store carts causes a va­ri­ety of prob­lems: fly­ers left in them create lit­ter; blown by the wind they can dent ve­hi­cles; and you see carts aban­doned al­most any­where. One such cart has been pushed into Cor­duroy Brook at the south­ern edge of Sobeys park­ing lot.

This prob­lem can be eas­ily brought in line with a cart de­posit sys­tem (decades old); you pay a loonie to use it and it’s re­funded when the cart is re­turned. Wal­mart has been us­ing that sys­tem in its new store in Sud­bury since 2016. Why not here? Why aren’t all stores us­ing this sys­tem?

Gaso­line pow­ered en­gines are big con­trib­u­tors to car­bon diox­ide (CO2) emis­sions. Thus, we can all do our bit for cleaner air, get in step, by not us­ing fast food drive-throughs; cut out use­less idling; and by cut­ting back on the use of lawn mow­ers, snow blow­ers, and recre­ational ve­hi­cles.

As well, we can get in step with less pres­sure on the farm­land in­dus­try by not wast­ing food and overeat­ing at home and at all you can eat buf­fets. And surely peo­ple can cut back on buy­ing too much of ev­ery­thing in­clud­ing elec­tron­ics, footwear, and clothes. Tex­tiles, as garbage, is now a world­wide prob­lem.

And like cadets on pa­rade, we need to fol­low a leader; the ones in step for a cleaner en­vi­ron­ment.

Char­lot­te­town, P.E.I. (since the early 1980’s) has a plant that gen­er­ates its own elec­tric­ity and also pro­vides hot wa­ter heat to serve 125 cus­tomers in­clud­ing the nearby Queen El­iz­a­beth Hos­pi­tal. The plant burns non-re­cy­clable mu­nic­i­pal and sawmill waste, and some oil. Why isn’t that sys­tem more widely used?

As for our lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment it can be less pol­luted by per­sons op­er­at­ing their wood stoves at a higher tem­per­a­tures; lessen CO2 emis­sions. As well, trees and lawns help pu­rify our air thus they should not be cut down or cut out just to make more park­ing spa­ces. Dead or dan­ger­ous trees are dif­fer­ent is­sues.

En­vi­ron­ment Week is also a re­minder to cor­po­ra­tions to get in step with the man­u­fac­ture of cleaner, safer, prod­ucts and ser­vices. Neg­li­gent com­pa­nies should be well aware that the in­ter­net and smart­phone tech­nol­ogy makes it ever harder for them to run and hide.

It’s also a week to re­mind gov­ern­ments at all lev­els that they are our pla­toon lead­ers for stronger en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion laws and most as­suredly the en­forc­ing of such laws.

And fi­nally the big­gest change needs to come in­di­vid­u­ally. One only needs go no fur­ther than the near­est mir­ror and ask “What do I have to do to be in step with clean­ing up our en­vi­ron­ment, not just to­day, but ev­ery day”?

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