Allyson Racz, a Waste Reduction Technician, agreed to act as a representative for the City of Lethbridge and answer some questions regarding the city’s waste reduction programs. The two main contributors to waste production in Lethbridge are the commercial and residential communities. Waste reduction can only be achieved when both sides are working towards a common goal of increased recycling. On the residential side, there has been an increase in use of the yard waste site, however the recycling center use has plateaued over time. Whereas the commercial side has seen a decrease in construction waste received by the landfill.
Waste is a resource which people should value to their fullest potential. Everything is originally created from some type of material and many things that are sent to the landfill are too good to waste. When waste is deposited in the landfill there is a limited breakdown of material and that material is no longer available for the creation of goods. Becoming an informed shopper can help reduce the impact of individuals; by choosing products with minimal or recyclable packaging the amount of waste contributing to landfills decreases. As a whole, the City of Lethbridge leads by example to reduce their own waste consumption. There are positions created within the corporation to monitor broad environmental sustainability. Other businesses can follow in their green footprint by utilizing low flow toilets, carpooling to job sites, buying energy efficient technology, or installing LED lightbulbs. The City of Lethbridge achieve their goals through tracking performance, continuity, and accountability. By keeping track of the amount of waste and recycled material produced they are held accountable to the programs they have initiated. The CESI (Corporate Environmental Sustainability Initiative) is broken down into four categories. The two aspects which are currently being addressed are waste and air. It is a process which includes educational awareness, product generation and procurement, and waste diversion using recycling and compost options.
Most residents in Lethbridge are familiar with the three recycling stations: Stafford Drive North, Bridge Drive West, and South Side. However there are also safe disposal options to keep hazardous material such as paints, cleaners, and automotive products out of landfills. These items can be brought directly to the Waste and Recycling Centre for proper disposal. It may not be the most convenient option for everyone, however it is the safest option. The waste wizard (accessible via the City of Lethbridge’s website) can be used by anyone to look up how to dispose of particular waste properly.
The City of Lethbridge looks to the future of recycling and waste reduction which will include a fully operational curbside recycling program by 2019. This will maintain the use of current drop off sites for residents with excessive amounts of recycling and a biweekly scheduled pick up for the blue bins provided. The city is currently working towards the idea of establishing a similar organics program in the years to come. Recycling options are not limited to individual’s homes, recycling at work can be easy when everyone works together to make an impact.
It is everyone’s responsibility to reduce waste, recycle and make green choices. Daily decisions can make an impact over time, such as the decision to bring your own bags for groceries or to-go mug for coffee. Using reusable options is better than recyclable ones as it reduces the number of products which must be turned back into useable materials. Reducing waste is as easy as shopping at thrift stores and buying quality or multi-use items.
For more information on how to reduce personal waste visit http://environmentlethbridge.ca/waste/
Written and photographed by Kristen Hancsicak