Several of you have asked about recycling here in Canada. Canada is serious about recycling - which I love and fully support, however, it's a little intimidating for a newcomer. I have a whole calendar with detailed instructions on disposing of trash - what to recycle, what to compost, and what is actually garbage. In the photo above, only the small clear plastic bag contains garbage. Everything else is going to be recycled or composted. That's 2 weeks worth at my house.
This helpful how-to-sort-your-waste chart is front and center on our fridge, and I still find myself standing in the kitchen, holding a piece of trash and wondering which bin I should toss it into. All food waste, even meat scraps, goes into the compost bin, along with any paper that has touched food or that can be composted. We have a small bin for compost in the kitchen lined with a compostable bag which regularly gets emptied into the tall green bin outside the garage.
We have another tall recycling bin, blue bag #1 for clean paper, and another bin, blue bag #2, for all the other recyclables - plastic, tin, aluminum foil, glass, and even styrofoam. The good thing here is that you can recycle plastic shopping bags without taking them back to the grocery store. Bad news about that is that it's getting harder for the recycling industry to recycle these filmy plastic bags. China used to take them to recycle into other plastics but has recently stopped this practice so more and more plastic bags are ending up in the landfill - or in the ocean. We're trying to stick with the best practice - a reusable shopping bag. Some stores here charge 5 cents for each plastic bag - good motivation to bring your own bags! We've started to store our shopping bags in the car so we always have them with us.
The trash and recycling are picked up once every two weeks. If you don't get your trash sorted properly, you get an orange sticker, the sticker of shame, telling all your neighbors that you are a recycling imbecile.
This is a little stressful for a perfectionist like myself. Don finds it amusing - or maybe he just finds me amusing. So far, I haven't gotten the orange sticker - or maybe it's just too cold for the workers to take a close look at the garbage!
Not only do we recycle at home, we recycle everywhere, Restaurants, parks, church, stores, street side. Here's the waste sort station at the Wolfville Farmer's Market. Anywhere you might toss trash, there will be at least 3 bins to choose from.
I also need to add that these recycling guidelines are for our own little part of Canada - the Annapolis Valley here in Nova Scotia. Different cities and provinces have their own rules and pickup schedules.
All of this makes us more aware of just how much trash our small family of two can generate and what can be recycled. For Lent this year, our church, Port Williams United Baptist Church, is participating in Give it up for the Earth, a faith in action campaign for climate justice in Canada.
For 40 days, we commit to making small changes that will decrease waste headed to landfills and that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So I did give up more for Lent than wearing sandals (which is what my husband told the church in a recent sermon.) My focus has been on trying to reduce our dependence on single use plastic - anything plastic that you use once and throw away. Cups, plastic spoons and forks, plastic packaging, plastic shopping bags. It's a hard thing. We are dependent on a lot of plastic. It's time to make some changes.