Christina Seidel 
Executive Director,
Recycling council of Alberta

In 2012, Calgary landfills disposed of 623,000 tonnes of waste, 206,000 tonnes of that coming from residences. This is a significant amount of waste and it is predicted that between 70-80 percent of the material disposed of in landfills could be diverted through reuse or recycling.

Composting and green gardening

Although you may be using your Blue Cart to recycle your fibre, packaging, and containers, adding composting to your repertoire can significantly reduce the amount of waste you place in your Black Cart, which ultimately goes to the landfill. Backyard composting is a great way to utilize your food scraps and yard waste for gardening and landscaping in the future. The compost you make at home in your backyard composter serves as the best type of natural fertilizer for your garden. If you have large volumes of yard waste, you can participate in The City of Calgary Spring Yard Waste Drop Off program, which accepts leaves, branches, and grass for composting, free of charge.

Grasscycling and xeriscaping, or natural landscaping, are also great ways to reduce your environmental footprint and reduce yard maintenance throughout the summer. Save time, money, and help the environment by leaving your grass clippings on your lawn, and choosing native plants and vegetation that require little or no watering.

Green cleaning

When you do your spring cleaning, make sure to use environmentally friendly cleaning products or even go back to basics and use the reliable baking soda and vinegar cleaning options. Use old clothes as rags to reduce unnecessary paper towel use. Donate other clothes and textiles to charities, or visit a consignment store to sell your unwanted clothing. You may even be able to get some new spring outfits there as well! Reducing your consumption and reusing materials whenever possible is the best way to significantly reduce your environmental footprint and help green your home and community.

Proper disposal of materials

For those materials that you do have to get rid of, make sure to dispose of them properly. For instance, hazardous materials, such as used oil, chemicals, etc., should be taken to a recycling drop-off location for appropriate recycling and disposal. If these materials are thrown in the garbage, they end up in the landfill, where they can create harmful leachate, which can cause damage to the environment. Electronic waste, like old computers and TVs, can be disassembled and their valuable materials recycled into new products if taken to a recycling drop-off location. This not only reduces the amount of material being sent to landfills, but also conserves resources since less raw material is required.

Greening your home this spring is as easy as following the three Rs: reduce your consumption, reuse materials when you can, and recycle your old products and packaging. The planet will thank you!

Christina Seidel,
Executive Director, Recycling Council of Alberta