Waste Reduction Week in Canada

Earth between two hands image

This October marks the 20th anniversary of Waste Reduction Week in Canada! From October 18–24, the campaign will highlight daily themes and resources throughout the week.

Here we will briefly touch on each theme with information or a fact, some everyday solutions to reduce waste and a link to a video if you want to learn more!

Monday: Circular economy

Keeping resources in use for as long as possible by re-purposing and repairing before finally recovering and regenerating. Instead of the current throwaway economy, the aim would be to design unnecessary waste out of the picture.
Video: Explaining the Circular Economy 

The total amount of waste sent for disposal in Ontario was 10,085,613 tonnes in 2018.

Everyday solutions:

  • Before throwing something away, try to repair it! Or maybe there is someone in the community who specializes in just that. 
  • Repurposing items like torn shirts into dust rags or wash cloths. 
  • Write to local officials and companies telling them what you would like to see, encouraging them to make positive changes towards a circular economy.

Tuesday: Textiles

Fashion uses an incredible number of resources, time and energy. To create one single T-shirt, it takes 2,700 liters of water, jeans take nearly 11,000 litres! Because Fashion moves so quickly, items are often mass-produced and cycled into landfills. 
Video: How your T-shirt can make a difference

Everyday solutions:

  • Shop second hand
  • Repair holes in garments and soles on shoes
  • Rent suits or other pricey items
  • Wash items less to extend the lifetime
  • Shop your own closet!

Wednesday: E-Waste

Discarded electric and electronic products are a massive contributor the global waste issue. This could be anything from cords to computers and when they sit in landfills, they release toxic chemicals.
Video: How E-Waste is harming our world

In a 2020 report from the Global E-Waste Monitor, the world threw out 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste last year

Everyday solutions:

  • Hold onto your gadgets for a longer time
  • Donate or sell any electronics not needed
  • Bring in items to be repaired
  • Properly recycle to allow reliable resources to be re-used

Thursday: Plastics

Did you know Canadians produce a significant amount of plastic waste and only nine per cent gets recycled? Roughly 2.8 million tonnes of waste goes to Canadian landfills every year
Video: Just 14% of global plastic packaging is recycled

Everyday solutions:

  • Carry a water bottle to refill and bring your own utensils from home
  • Supply your own bags while shopping
  • Swap out zipped plastic bags for reusable containers
  • Look up recycling labels and understand what can and cannot be recycled

Friday: Food Waste

When we waste food and don’t properly dispose of it, we throw away and trap valuable nutrients that can’t make it back to the earth and start to release greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.
Roughly $10 billion worth of food is wasted every year across Canada.
Video: The circular economy in the food industry

Everyday solutions: 

  • Purchase less if you can’t guarantee its use
  • Freeze produce before it goes bad to use later
  • Check and understand expiry dates
  • Use vegetable scraps for making stock or compost

Saturday: Sharing Economy

Access over ownership is another powerful part of the circular economy. It’s the idea of sharing resources instead of owning them, for example Netflix over a DVD.
Video: What if don’t buy products and we buy service?

Everyday alternatives to owning: 

  • Use online streaming platforms 
  • Ride sharing apps
  • Public transit
  • Access libraries (not just for books! WiFi, computers, movies and musc)
  • Rent formal wear or electronics

Sunday: Swap and Repair

The average person throws away 37 kilograms of textile products a year and 96 per cent of those could have been reused. There is always the option to swap or repair usable items to extend its life cycle.
Video: How repair cafes can mend more than just possessions

Everyday solutions: 

  • Using trading groups like Bunz
  • Organize a clothing swap with friends
  • Repair items yourself or enlist someone with the knowledge.

This week, take the time to learn a bit more about a Waste Reduction Week and what you can do. Making even the smallest changes in your everyday life can help to make a big difference and don’t forget that your words are also powerful! 

Writing to companies and government is key to making changes, so don’t be afraid to use your voice.

Above all, share the word and let others know what you’ve learned during Waste Reduction Week.

Check out Waste Reduction Week to explore more resources, information and facts.

Written by Kimberly Yvonne
Brought to you by Mohawk Sustainability