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That Includes the Smelly Stuff

By       Message Rachel Gladstone-Gelman       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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What ISN'T recycled in Canada?

At least in the region of northern Toronto, a way of life I've embraced almost too passionately is its inclusive recycling program. It seems to have been a developing program, as one component was recently added-table scraps. The recyclables are picked up twice as often as the trash, which is rendered minimal.

My passion for the program allows me to handle the leftover, the used, and even the slightly gross with an even slighter cringe. When the environmentally faithful are in control, such ordinary, natural, and repetitive actions of the individual become contributions in a society demonstrative in valuing a planet with an intended future. With a purpose for everything from the unintended smorgasbord on your plate, to the box it may have come in, to lint, it isn't just in what recycling is doing but in the continued value of the formerly forced benign. Having a role in that on a daily basis...that is something an emigrant/immigrant can get used to.

And how do you participate? Rather loosely. Most of the time, you just throw it in a designated bin. They make it so much easier here than in New York, where, even with the sorting in Canada, they give very simple instructions on how you're expected to keep loose items from blowing away. Yes, you tie stuff up, but you deal with colorful and colorless bags only when you need to. Not daily. You do have to bag the scraps that will become smelly, but for those who don't compost, you avoid throwing out food, as well as used paper towels, napkins and even tissues. "Designated bags" in New York is more, as far as this former resident is concerned, for the sake of who will screw it up so as to get a fine to feed the city's coffers than for environmental health. In Canada, the reminder of landfill pangs if you happen to forget or toss incorrectly is sufficient.

In encouraging the reduction of trash, it appears to be protocol at the supermarket for the cashier to ask you if you want a bag. If it's obvious you haven't brought any and will need more than one, they ask you how many you want. The first time they asked me, there were many items and I wagered a guess of five. We made it...with a squeeze. For further encouragement, the store also has paper bags (very recent) and cardboard boxes-my new preference.

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Combining recycling with other renewable resources, I am just as pleased that, with our location, opening the windows on a very hot day usually provides us with the natural comfort of Mother Nature's activity over air-conditioning. Canada also has programs building on solar, wind and water power. Our electricity, I was also thrilled to discover, is from a hydroelectric plant. Granted, a reason I chose this location is because it is not near one of the nuclear power plants in the overall region of northern Toronto. Even Canada isn't immune to that.

But from the perspective of one newly within the beltway of public composting, and an umbrella regime of "the avoidance of actual trash", those in leadership positions have gone the extra distance to support the environment for their citizens, whether or not they have actually kept in mind the ripple effect. Canada may not be (able to) sacrifice, at least at this time, its need for nuclear power, and it may seem contradictory to its proxemic alternatives. But in the research leading up to my family's emigration from the U.S., I saw no other country speak as loudly about actions accompanying such values. It couldn't be the main, and maybe not even a primary, reason for where we would ultimately pursue emigrating. Having it as focal in the result, however, is reverberating in the hopefulness of what our future here can be.


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Rachel emigrated to Canada in the summer of 2006.- She has an M.A. in Teaching ESOL, and her poetry, short stories and articles have appeared in print and online. Rachel is a member of Fair Vote Canada.

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