Friday, January 22nd, 2021...1:17 pm

A Gateway to Sustainability

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By Amna Abu Askar

We’ve heard time and time again the three famous Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. We were taught to recycle and differentiate recycling items into cans, paper, and plastic as young as four-years-old. However, despite our efforts in recycling, about 9% only is recycled by the recycling industry. This is because we are recycling way more plastic than the recycling technology can keep up with.

In 2016, Canadians discarded 3.3 million tonnes of plastic of which only 305,000 tonnes were recycled. 137,000 tonnes of plastic was burned to create energy, and 29,000 went into unmanaged dumps.The remaining 2.8 million tonnes of discarded recycle ended up in landfills. That is roughly the weight of 24 CN towers!! 

The throw-away culture we live in is exploiting our natural resources and increasing the amount of waste. Thus, recycling should not be our only focus, but reducing the amount of material we consume could significantly reduce waste flow into landfills. 

I’m sure you’ve heard of minimalism. If not, allow me to introduce you to it. Minimalism is living with less, with what meets our needs rather than our demands. That said, minimalists don’t lead boring lives with a single outfit in their wardrobe, rather, they live by the philosophy of no excess. And instead of relying on material possessions for entertainment, they focus on life-based experiences allowing them to lead more meaningful lives while saving the planet by cutting down waste. Living “zero waste” will help minimize pollution and conserve our natural resources.

With reducing consumption comes reusing items. Those two go hand in hand in minimizing what we throw out. For instance, instead of throwing away a broken vacuum cleaner, fix it, or recycle its parts. 

Not only are you saving the planet by living simple, but you are also reducing your expenses and living a more fulfilling life. The next time you add an item to your cart, ask yourself if it’s necessary? Let us add a fourth R and Rethink our choices.

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