I don't remember where I was reading this, but the example of a cultural mores towards shared responsibility of our cities, towns and the world is where change will happen. In our cities and work we pay people to clean after us, to clean the streets, to pick up the trash on the side of the road, or in the parks, to take out the recycling. Outside our homes there is little sense of personal responsibility. Yet, when something looks unpleasant or when the result of our trash piles up, we become indignant and demand that "the city" take care of things. We have grown in environments where "others" cleaned after us; home (some of us), school (janitors) and work (cleaning staff).
Although I've bragged up Halifax's awesome, provincially mandated recycling and composting program, it really has felt like the majority of the population feel that recycling and composting has been imposed (which it has) and that given the choice many would just toss their trash "away". Certainly, this is the overall opinion in the smaller, rural areas. Many people continue to burn their trash instead of having it sorted and ready for the bi-weekly pick up (for BOTH compost and recycling). (Old triple recycling, now they have flat, clean tops that easily flip up for the city to empty them! Picture from: Intelligent Travel)
When that man ran up and passed along his trash, I felt such a surge of "YES!". Hope that we are moving towards a time where just throwing your garbage on the ground or out the window is NOT socially acceptable. Especially as the city has triple bins placed every so many feet for garbage, recycling and compost.
So on the same thread, Halifax Harbour has been undergoing some "changes" recently. After millions of taxpayers dollars going to clean up the harbour from years of raw sewage dumping (that's right- raw sewage), for one beautiful year it has been free by means of a new treatment plant. In January this year, this plant mysteriously flooded... and the poo has been free-flowing straight into the harbour ever since. (Actual "floatables" visible in Halifax's Harbour-cbc).
Seriously, we live in Canada, the fact that a Canadian city continues to dump raw sewage directly into our precious ocean is ridiculous. About 80 million litres of waste water flows into the harbour each day. Tourists are already noticing sewage smells, with reports of needing to cover their faces while on a tour in the Harbour Hopper! This morning the Harbour Solutions manager announced that the seven screens that had been keeping the "floatables" from entering our beautiful harbour have been removed. He reports: "It just became impractical to try and continuously clean them and have them running continuously." WTF? So even though Halifax had the money and manpower to build and operate a 54 million treatment plant, cleaning seven screens is "impractical"? So now 80 million litres of water-poo-bits are gracing our delicate ocean each day.
It would seem that many people have just shrugged their shoulders with a: "well that's how it was for centuries before the new plant... I guess we can wait until it's fixed NEXT SPRING". No real public outcry has occured. Actually, other than the cbc news, no huge protests or petitions that I am aware of have been initiated since the plant flooded in January. (Halifax Harbour- ns govern. site).
So, my witness last weekend of the tiny spark of hope has caused the decision to do more than simply rant on this blog... but to write a nice, polite and very Canadian letter to Mr. Kelly- Mayor of Halifax. Mayor Kelly likes to frequently comment on how committed he is to having Halifax be a "sustainable" and environmentally friendly city.... If you'd like to take a step towards helping the change you'd like to see (Ghandi was so smart!), please feel free to join my voice with a letter to Mr. Kelly addressed here, or to his email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On a more positive note on "being the change", for months I had been considering how to "eco" up my work place. Unfortunately, larger organizations are exempt from strict provincial recycling-composting rules and my workplace only accepts paper recycling. After a quick check with coworkers I decided to bring in a recycling bag and bring plastics and dry compostables home to add to our recycling. I consulted with the cleaning staff to assure they wouldn't inadvertently remove and dump the new "recycling", created a little sign with pictures on what "lives here" and sent out a few emails to inform my colleagues. I have to admit, it was more challenging than expected... It would seem that many Nova Scotians had no idea that only #1 and #2 plastics were accepted, or that box board was compost... In any case, each week I have saved about a bag full of trash from being thrown in the landfill- WOOT! (My "saved" trash! pre-sorting)
Here are some other easy ways to "green" up your office:
- use staple free staplers, they're cute and simply fold the paper through a tiny hole!
- take phone notes on scraps of paper... do you really need a post-it?
- recycle your HP printer ink jets. HP is phasing out their pre-paid paper mailing packages, but you can order a large pre-paid box for free from their website. Mine was delivered within a few days. When it's full of ink cartridges just stick to the postage on the top and send off with other purolator mail! So easy. Hp offers recycling in over 50 countries, so check it out :)
- Turn off your computer AND printer at the end of the day.
- Consider setting up a dry recycling... take the work recycling PLUNGE!
Together we CAN be the change :)
Blessings and Happy Friday!!