Trash talk: don’t throw out a good idea

It has been about four weeks, and I am starting to get the hang of university. Shiny floors, automatic flush, motion sensor taps just to name a few features of the U of C facilities. And then there are the trash cans. If not infamous, they should be. Does no one realize that to have trash enter it, one has to push on its lid, either with the trash itself or with preciously sanitized hands? It’s an utterly unhygienic procedure. Why has it not been detected on the renovations radar? What did the innocent trash can do wrong to lessen unequal treatment than its hygienic counterparts taps and flush levers? Well I am sorry trash can. Just by being a trash can, you have lowered yourself in the eyes of humanity to the despicable level of trash.

The lack of modification of the university’s trash can shows a general trend in our society — a lack of focus on our garbage disposal systems. From an early age, we are taught that all used or disliked items must go in the garbage but rarely do we wonder where this trash goes. When we purchase a product, it is our job to consume it to our liking and then to dispose of it. Done. End of story.

But in fact this is far from end of story here. There is a complex mechanism that operates in our cities and often goes unnoticed. After disposal, trash is picked up and either sorted or put directly in a landfill, where it will take anywhere from a few days to hundreds of years to decompose. Calgary has begun to roll out its new black carts this week to complement the blue carts introduced to suburbia about a year ago. But is this the most efficient and effective method to deal with our cities disposal needs?

Other cities such as Toronto have gone past the traditional garbage and recycling programs and rolled out green bins (and their indoor counterparts).Green bins, a concept mostly unheard of in Calgary, are essentially worry-free compost. Users put almost all their organic trash in the bins which are picked up on a regular basis. There is no need to worry about taking care of the health of your “compost bin” except for the odd washing. The compost is sold to landscapers, farmers and the like.

My experience with this three-tier waste system has been eye-opening to say the least. It makes you realize how much of the waste we produce can be reduced, reused or recycled. While living in a green bin city, I noticed most of the waste my family produced was organic waste in the form of vegetable peels. Most packaging, everything from jam jars to soda cans, is recyclable. The only waste left to go in the garbage in the inside of the vacuum cleaner and the odd packaging that can’t be recycled. At the end of two weeks, we would have only half a garbage bag of garbage, but every week our green and blue bins would be bursting.

Calgary has the potential to be a city that can deal with its own trash in a more environmentally friendly way. Our water treatment system is worthy of pride and our garbage disposal system needs to be brought up to par.

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