Our landfills are overflowing.
It's true here and it's true elsewhere.
In Quebec, residual waste represents 13 million tonnes per year. The global average is 1.2 kilos per person per day! The Canadian average is 720 kilos per capita per year, with Alberta topping the list. Several Canadian provinces have implemented measures to reduce these quantities.
The province of Quebec adopted a Politique québécoise de gestion des matières résiduelles in 1998. However, according to Recyc-Québec, the objectives of this policy have not been met. On the contrary, the 525 kg/capita target set for 2023 in the Quebec government's Action Plan seems utopian, with the most recent data (2019) coming in at 724 kilograms of waste per capita, the highest amount since 2011.
The Quebec government seems to be aiming for a zero-waste society through sound management of its residual materials and by seeking to maximize the added value of each potential waste.
The ultimate goal is for the only residual material, the only waste, disposed of in Quebec to be the ultimate residue.
In short, we need more concrete, active participation.
My role as a citizen
But how can we, as citizens, help achieve this goal? How can I reduce the amount of waste or residual materials I produce?
To facilitate our actions and decision-making, we can use the concept of the 5R-C (formerly the 3R-V enhanced).
These should be understood as a continuum, an orderly way of managing our consumption. It's a strategy for a waste-free lifestyle, part of a more eco-responsible way of life.
The 5R-Cs cover, in order: reducing consumption, reusing goods, recycling and recovery or composting.
To fully understand each of the ideas behind this global concept, we define them and give you concrete examples.
The least harmful waste is that which does not exist.
Before buying a good, the very first questions to ask are: Is the item needed? What need does it fill? Is it of good quality, and does it have a good lifespan?
Another question to ask yourself, particularly when buying a single-use item: is there an alternative solution that would enable me to use an item several times for the same purpose (e.g. using washable dish covers instead of disposable cling film)?
Examples: avoid over-packaging, disposable coffee cups, non-organic
vegetables/fruits that have been subjected to unnecessary pesticides, reduce meat consumption, reduce vehicle use...REUSE (REEMPLOY) and REVALORIZE
Reuse means extending the life of a good without subjecting it to major transformation. Reuse also means repairing, exchanging and buying used.
Examples: giving a good or item of clothing directly to someone who will use it, taking part in clothing exchanges, repairing yourself or with the help of a seamstress clothes that need a little adjustment or repair, consulting online sales platforms or going to garage sales for second-hand items.
This involves recovering goods from which materials are extracted to create new goods. This is an interesting form of waste management, ranking 3rd after reduction and reuse.
Examples: make proper use of your recycling bin or public recycling bins when you go out, transform clothes that have become unusable into rags, donate some of your clothes and goods that have reached the end of their life to organizations or recycling craftsmen.
Sites like Pinterest are full of recycling ideas you can do at home.
We can recycle waste to generate materials or energy. It's a question of making a profit out of what seemed useless. Recovery comes last in the 5R-C hierarchy. It is desirable only when we have reduced at source, reused or recycled our residual materials.
Examples: composting at home or using municipal composting facilities. In the industrial sector, the use of used tires or wood residues as a source of energy production is also considered valorization.
Perhaps you're wondering if you can make a difference?
Well, you certainly can! If every citizen of Quebec, Canada and the world applied this simple principle, the difference would be more than striking!
When we act collectively, the results become observable and significant. We've seen how Quebecers are able to reduce the amount of waste they generate. Beaconsfield has implemented a system that charges citizens according to the amount of waste they generate, and they've seen a 26% reduction in the municipality's total mass of garbage.
Should we wait to pay or be taxed before changing our consumption patterns by choosing better? Should we wait until we're truly overrun with garbage and no longer have access to raw resources? Of course not!
Our blog is full of tips and tricks to help us make the transition to a zero-waste, more eco-responsible lifestyle. What's more, to put a stop to single-use items, we've done a lot of research to integrate quality products into our store.