The Environomics of Garbage

Inflation is defined as a “sustained increase in the general level of prices for goods and services” (thanks  In other words, your money just don’t buy what it used to.

For example, back in the day, I could walk up to the soda counter of my favourite drug store, a dime burning a hole in my pocket, order a double tall extra skinny soypuccino (with two straws if I was with my sweetie, of course) and a couple of free range anchovy filets…and still have enough change to go to the pictures after.

These days, that dime barely covers the guilt of not bringing my refillable travel mug when ordering that Double T with a Side of Skinny.

And for garbage, back in the day, it used to be that the “3Rs” of reducing, reusing and recycling was all that was needed.  But somehow, along the way, inflation hit hard and for a stretch there, “reduce” and “reuse” became extremely undervalued and the 3Rs came to stand for “recycling” only.  Then, for a brief period circa 2012, likely as a result of the burst of the post-consumer fibre market bubble, we had the 5Rs.  But now things seem to have calmed down – the days of the 3Rs are long gone, but we’ve settled into a period of stability with the…

7Rs of Not Throwing Perfectly Good Resources and Your Money Into The Landfill

Refuse, Reduce, Return, Repair, Reuse, Recycle, Rot…that’s a mouthful, so here are some handy tips to help you remember.

  • Refuse – just say no…to that bag, that supersize serving of free-range anchovies you really don’t need, and that double cup for your Double T with a Side of Skinny.
  • Return – believe it or not, refillable, returnable containers do exist (and I’m not just talking about those for used fermented, bubbly, barley juice) just waiting to be returned to their point of purchase.
  • Repair – the lid of your refillable travel mug sticking a bit?  Don’t pitch it, just use a little elbow grease and make it good as new.
  • Reuse – some things are meant for re-using, like your refillable travel mug, and others take some imagination.  Like using hospital waste to make art.
  • Recycle – there’s still a place for good ol’ recycling…just not at the top of the waste management heap where most of us put it.
  • Rot – nature has invented the perfect way to get rid of organic materials…let’s take advantage of it.
  • Reduce – sure, “Rot” is good, but some studies show that as much as 40% of the food we produce in Canada goes to waste, and about 20% of the food we bring into our homes ends up in the compost pile.  That’s wrong for so many reasons…

The A, B, C, Ds of E-Waste

One industry that hasn’t done so well on the “Repair” front is the electronics industry…it’s easier to pitch that iThingie, which was pretty much obsolete the second you bought it, and get a new one should the wires get crossed.  Electronic waste (or e-waste) has the added baggage of usually containing heavy metals and chemicals that can get released into the environment if disposed of in landfill.

Fortunately, UHN has e-waste recycling set-up for all its locations…if it was plugged in, we’ll take it!  Contact your Housekeeping department or Energy & Environment for details on how to get e-cycling.