Reduce, reuse, recycle
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”?