Waste Reduction Week generates interest in Algonquin Highlands
By Sue Tiffin
Published Oct. 12, 2017
Oct. 16 to 22 is Waste Reduction Week across Canada, a national environmental campaign acknowledged by municipalities, businesses and schools to recognize and build awareness of sustainability, responsible consumption, natural resource conservation and overall benefits of waste reduction.
At an Oct. 5 council meeting, Algonquin Highlands council proclaimed the week as being so after receiving a report from Melissa Murray, environmental coordinator, with support and much enthusiasm for her event ideas.
“Waste Reduction Week occurs during a slower season for waste production in Algonquin Highlands but still holds opportunity for educational activities,” reads the report, before detailing seven ideas that included a waste “report card” offering informal, voluntary waste audits at landfill sites, a tour and trash talk to help residents get better understanding through a behind the scenes tour of waste management at local landfills and a “zero” waste challenge between municipalities and townships in the county to try to set new records for low amounts of waste brought to the landfill.
Mayor Carol Moffatt said the report featured what were “definitely great ideas,” but questioned the possibility of implementing them in a short time frame.
Murray noted that some of the ideas might take significant time to be put into place, but that the proclamation of the week created opportunity to discuss which projects might be taken on.
Councillors were particularly interested in a repair cafe, an idea first organized in Amsterdam in 2009, which spread to more than 1,300 locations around the world.
“This unique program brings together people with skills to fix things, with items that need small repairs to bring them back to life,” reads Murray’s report.
“We know that people do shop at our landfills from time to time, so a repair cafe might be a good idea,” said Deputy-mayor Liz Danielsen.
Moffatt noted the logistics of the program would have to be sorted out to determine who would be liable if, for example, somebody helped fix a toaster and the toaster later shorted out.
“Unfortunately, that’s the world we live in,” she said.
Councillor Marlene Kyle said she liked the idea of a repair cafe, and wondered if it could be tied into programming at the Dorset Recreation Centre.
“Being married to someone who repairs everything, when you see all these things in the landfill, it just makes me shutter because there are so many things that just need an easy fix,” she said. “[If we] tie it into programming... it could be a really great move for Algonquin Highlands.”
Councillors Brian Lynch and Lisa Barry thought some of the ideas might be suitable for the environment committee to take on as well, as they move forward with next projects.
“What we do with our waste and landfills is probably the most important work we do,” said Moffatt. She said that township departments could look into bringing awareness to waste reduction week through social media avenues.
Other ideas in the report included the launch of a “waste ambassador” program to help members of the community learn more and share knowledge with other landfill users, articles in the local news media and building a social media campaign that highlights waste reduction and environmental stewardship.