Recycling is a great first chore for kids – but here are some things you should know
If you are looking to get your kids started with a few chores around the house, recycling is a good first step. Not only does it teach them how to sort items into their appropriate boxes, it also gets them thinking about the environment — specifically, the impact our consumption habits can have on the planet.
While your family may be great recyclers, Jo-Anne St. Godard, executive director of the Recycling Council of Ontario, says only about 60 percent of the packaging and products we put in our blue bin actually gets recycled.
“Our motivations are in the right place, but the unfortunate thing about that is that we’re kind of using our blue boxes as a garbage bag in a way. We’re putting too much pressure on that blue box and we’re putting things in there that we’re purchasing, thinking that they can get recycled and, really, it’s very tough or sometimes they can’t get recycled,” she explains.
The key is to think of recycling as a global issue rather than a local one. While the contents of our blue bins may be collected by the City of Ottawa, more often than not, it all ends up on the other side of the planet.
“Recycling is really a global business. Many of the things that we are recycling, their final destination is not our province, not even our country sometimes. Recycling, in particular packaging out of the blue box, is a global commodity — that means that these are raw materials that are sold in a global market and they will go to wherever the buyer is. Most often over the last decade, that buyer has been China,” says St. Godard.
With all that in mind, St. Godard says every family can do their part in reducing waste — it all starts with our buying habits.
“We’re fighting a pretty consumption-based market at the moment. I think less is more and that’s a very difficult thing to learn about,” she says.
“What we need to do is look at the areas where we end up generating quite a bit of material and asking, ‘What else can we do?’ When consumers start voting with their wallets, producers get the signal that their packaging or product isn’t sustainable or recyclable and maybe they need to rethink its design. That ultimately is what we want.”
Put them in the bin!
Did you know that these items can be recycled in Ottawa? There may be a few on this list that surprise you!
Bottles, jars, drink boxes and cans
Aluminum containers and foil
Empty paint cans with lids removed
Empty aerosol cans
Spiral-wound canisters with metal ends
Plastic containers #1 to 7
Take-out containers, bakery and produce containers
Clear plastic egg cartons
Plastic bottles, jars and jugs
Tubs and tub lids (yogurt, ice cream, margarine containers)
Milk and juice cartons
Newspaper, flyers, magazines and catalogues
Cardboard and paper
Cereal and cracker boxes
Shoe and laundry detergent boxes
Paper egg cartons, toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls
Gift wrapping paper and greeting cards
Paper shopping bags or paper packaging
*Source: City of Ottawa