Saturday, April 21, 2012

Food packaging waste

For the documentary I am working on EcoLosers we visited a Waste Management Site in Halton. While I wasn't really shocked at the amount of garbage in the landfill, I actually thought it would be more but they seem to have a great system of diverting a lot of the trash out of the landfill. But one of the things that occurred to me was the amount of waste produced for food packaging. We saw a lot of Tim Horton's cups and after asking a question to our guide John I realized that some of the so called improvements to some fast food places weren't actually better for other things. The example being that Swiss Chalet now produces a container that separates the food into individual little sections in a huge plastic container and then the knife and fork are wrapped up in little plastic bags, extra things like desserts are packed in plastic or styrofoam containers and then the whole thing is put in a plastic bag. None of these things are recyclable. Swiss Chalet used to put their dinners in a foil container with a foil and paper lid. The foil containers are recyclable. Your food may be all nice and perfect when you get it home but the package will live on forever in a pile somewhere on earth. Some companies have attempted to use less packaging or packaging that is easier to recycle but there are still a lot out there that need improvement. The other food waste comes in just buying food from the grocery store, even if you are just buying fruits and vegetables there are the plastic containers berries come in that aren't recyclable, the rubber band that is on the asparagus, the wire ties, the plastic bags you have to put your bulk items or bundle of fruits and vegetables in. You now have the option of bringing your own grocery bags but if you forget like I do many times or can't be bothered then add the plastic bag that you have to pay 5 cents for that will be around longer than you will. What we realized from our site visit is that no matter how hard you try to be as green as possible there are still too many things in our convenience filled industrial world that will make it impossible to have zero waste. But we need to have some creative people find some new creative solutions. All the garbage that has been produced in the past that isn't biodegradable will be around forever and we can't change that, but we need to find solutions to new products and packaging so that we can reduce the amount of stuff we have to truck to these landfill sites, therefore reducing the amount of garbage we dump on our planet. This is a call to all the smart people out there that can come up with creative solutions that will work to solve these issues. I don't think the answer will be having everyone become their own farmers but maybe cities need to be built with zoning of a certain amount of community gardens or maybe certain packaging products need to be banned, or maybe packaging designers need to design packages that biodegrade 100%, or maybe we all need to get educated a lot more to figure out how to avoid producing the kind of garbage we can't get rid of. I don't have the answer but I have some ideas, but I know there are people out there who can make a difference. If it's you then you have to do your best to try and solve this problem. Nobody wants to see kids with nowhere to play because there are no green spaces left because they have all become landfill. Think it can't happen?.. Remember the garbage strike a couple of years ago when they put the garbage in a hockey rink and park? It can happen so let's all do our part to make a difference.

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