By Elizabeth Davies
Improper recycling can contaminate blocks of recycled materials. In Sault Ste. Marie, Our city's recycling is taken care of by Green For Life Environmental. Their collection trucks have a divider inside the truck to separate fibrous materials from plastic, glass, and aluminum. Once it reaches the facility, Sault Ste. Marie's recycling is hand-sorted one side at a time. This is demanding and important labour, and we should all make an effort to prioritize effective recycling in our households.
In an effort to determine the best ways to approach personal sustainability, I interviewed Sault College graduate Fish and Wildlife Conservation Technician Keirstin Carrol. Keirstin has worked with Water Rangers and the MNR. With a passion for making education accessible, Keirstin was able to provide important information that sheds light on the complexities of environmental sustainability on an individual level.
"It's important that everyone understands how to properly recycle in their specific municipality" says Carrol, "it may feel tedious to properly recycle, some may feel they’re not making an impact; however with group effort and consistency we spare our planet numerous hardships."
Having experience with conservation efforts, she emphasizes that while climate change is an overwhelming experience for all of us, our individual efforts do in fact make a difference in our local environment; an important step to make for overall climate justice. Keirstin wants people to understand that these are real people sorting through our waste to make our planet better.
"Not only does recycling save space in your garbage can, but it also conserves energy all while preventing air and water pollution, also it lowers greenhouse gas emissions. When done properly, recycling benefits our ecosystem in so many ways that people don't consider."
When asked about her overall opinion on why we should all be considerate of our recycling techniques, Keirstin said “In many ways, properly recycling now is allowing the future generations to kickstart saving our ecosystems, one step at a time.”
The grassroots organization Clean North of Sault Ste. Marie is an incredible source for information on sustainability in our municipality. They note that; “we can only recycle a few plastics, recyclables should be clean, you must remove caps/lids, and when in doubt throw it out to avoid contaminating the recycling stream.” For items that cannot be recycled such as electronics and transmission fluid containers, you can drop off these items at the Household Hazardous Waste Depot located at 402 Fifth Line East. Stores like Rexall also have collection bins for used batteries.
The official Sault Ste. Marie website shares what we can dispose of in our bins:
"Blue lid; steel (tin) food cans, aluminum cans, no.1 and no.2 plastic bottles, glass bottles and jars.”
“Grey lid; newspapers and flyers, magazines, phone books, small boxes, paper egg cartons, toilet/paper towel rolls, gift wrapping and greeting cards (paper only), corrugated cardboard, cleaned milk cartons, coffee cups, clean pizza boxes, all other paper products."
A more in-depth listing of what can and cannot be recycled can be found at https://www.cleannorth.org/top-tips-for-curbside-recycling/.
By making an effort to educate ourselves on recycling, the average person does change the world around them. The effort that people make truly does cascade throughout our environment and can positively affect our lives and the generations to come. In the Sault we are fortunate enough to have grassroots organizations such as Clean North, and more recently the Climate Hub. It’s unlikely, especially as students, that we can live a lifestyle that is entirely carbon neutral and zero waste. However, groups such as Clean North and the Climate Hub make climate justice more of a tangible reality for all of us. Through their websites, in-person and webinar events, we can find a sense of community and power in our ability to profoundly impact the world around us.
Websites to check out for information on recycling:
Where can I recycle this item? https://www.cleannorth.org/recycle-stuff/
How can I reduce my plastic waste? https://www.cleannorth.org/plastic-free-pledge/
About Clean North: https://www.cleannorth.org/about-clean-north/
Acceptable items for the Household Hazardous Waste Depot: https://saultstemarie.ca/Government/City-Departments/Public-Works-Engineering-Services/Public-Works/Waste-Management/Household-Hazardous-Waste-Depot/Acceptable-vs-Unacceptable-Waste.aspx
Sault Climate Hub: https://climatehub.mystrikingly.com/blog/sault-ste-marie