Taking out the trash

Weekly routine leads to questions about the environment

At some point it went from being a routine chore to a chance for reflection.

I live with four other people and every month we each have a chore to do. One of them is to take out the trash and recycling the night before garbage collection day.

Some months ago when it was my turn to take out the trash and recycling, it dawned on me how much of both my housemates and I produce in a week: a Blue Box-and-a-half of recycling and at least one average-sized garbage bag three-quarters full of trash.

If that’s how much we produce each week, what about the house next to us? And the one beside that? 

Where does it all go? And how much of that recycling actually ends up being recycled, and how much of it ends up in a landfill? 

Now when I take out the trash and recycling, those thoughts swim in my head. And instead of ending up with answers, I just come up with more questions: How can I reduce the amount of stuff I throw out? 

My questioning goes beyond just the garbage. What impact is my everyday existence having on the environment?

I’m not the only person asking myself these sorts of questions. From the popularity of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth documentary to this past December’s climate change conference in Copenhagen, the environment is on most people’s minds.

The University of Winnipeg, the City of Winnipeg and the Province of Manitoba have all created initiatives aimed at lessening the environmental impact of citizens.

But have they done enough? How are those initiatives working out?

That’s one of the main questions behind a series of articles in this issue of The Uniter

In our section focusing on the environment (pages 9, 11 and 12), you’ll find stories about the province’s effort to reduce the use of plastic bags (“Provincial plans address plastic problem,” page 9) as well as how big businesses try to do their part for the Earth (“Eco-conscious emissions?” page 9).

On page seven you’ll find a comments piece on the green transportation system Winnipeg had almost 100 years ago. Page two includes everyday people’s thoughts on whether or not the City of Winnipeg does enough for the environment and on page 19, columnist Sagan Morrow discusses how being environmentally conscious is a healthy choice.

What do you think? How much do questions about the environment weigh on your mind? What are you doing – if anything – to lessen your impact on the Earth? 

We’d like to hear what you have to say. Leave a comment on our website at www.uniter.ca or send an e-mail to editor@uniter.ca.

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