It’s Not Easy Being Green

Kermit the Frog
Did you know that this week is ‘Waste Reduction Week’? Me neither. In any case, City Hall is (re)promoting their new(ish) initiative that aims to increase recycling by 14% in an effort to divert a total of 65% of our household waste from the landfill by 2012. According to the most recent data (from 2005), Kingstonian’s use their blue and grey boxes to divert as much as 42% of their waste. Although I am sure that the figures have increased since the 2005 snapshot, I think the final push towards the goal will come from the new green bin system, which we previously featured. Unfortunately, the city is projecting that the green bins won’t be available until Spring ’09, vice the hopeful launch of Fall ’08.

As a part of Waste Reduction Week, the City of Kingston is offering common sense tips on how to improve your recycling habits, and they even suggest not purchasing products that come in packaging that can’t be recycled. As an avid recycler and composter, I was thrilled to hear that the city is encouraging consumers to essentially boycott certain products. Who knows, it might actually make an impact on which packaging materials make their way to Kingston’s grocery stores. For me, I’m always frustrated when I buy a product that comes in an un-recyclable plastic container. I really need to pay more attention to that when I go out and do my shopping.

This morning on CBC, there was a brief mention of Kingston’s Waste Reduction Week, and some of the current ideas floating around the watercoolers. Of the ideas they mentioned, the potential transition to use clear plastic bags for garbage was one that got me thinking. Essentially, someone believes that by using clear plastic bags, our waste disposal employees would be able to catch people who try to throw out something that is recyclable, or compostable. The penalty could range from not having your garbage picked up to a fine. In my opinion, this is simply not the way to go as it would take too much time for someone to inspect your bag at the curb, and it would be too easy for offenders to simply conceal recyclable/compostable items.

As we prepare to usher in the green bin next Spring, and adopt new practices to help us reach our goal of 65% waste diversion, I believe the best addition to residential collection would be to reduce the number of garbage bags to one per week. Currently we are permitted to put out 2 bags per week, while anything beyond that must be paid for. I don’t even know how to buy credits/tags for additional bags, or how strictly the 2-bag limit is enforced. This solution wouldn’t really impact my household as we only put out one bag, and I suppose it might not work for larger families who honestly have a need to dispose more than the rest of us. But then again, isn’t it reasonable that they pay more for the additional service?

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

One thought on “It’s Not Easy Being Green

  • In the interest of ensuring readers who DO want to buy tags can, you can get more information at The tags are super-easy to use… Just buy them, and then fold them around your third (and beyond) bag’s knot like a flag.

    My wife and I strive for 1 in a week – and often hit it… though we’ve been known to hit 2 on occasion. We’re known to have a lot of out-of-town friends and family stay with us, and on a really busy week – we’re almost guaranteed to hit 2, and will sometimes get to three… Mostly with rather large pieces of #1 plastic.

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