The link between climate change and waste management is now well understood.
By diverting organic materials from landfill, we are cutting down on methane gas production as well as reducing leachate, which can contaminate groundwater.
While reducing and reusing still get top marks, recycling conserves significant amounts of energy by reducing the need to extract and process raw materials. Transportation requirements in vehicles that have high emissions will reduce these benefits however.
To help make recycling a more environmentally safe choice, developing local end markets for residual materials is critical, which also results in new industry and new jobs. Buying products with post-consumer content will also ensure that recycling collection is more viable. See our Recycling page for more information on this topic.
For more information on how Zero Waste has a positive impact on climate change, check out these websites:
Check your community and college libraries for books with more ideas. Here are two of our favourites:
Energy efficient retrofits
Grants are available for your home. Visit the Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) website at ecoaction.gc.ca and follow the links to ecoENERGY Retrofit or call 1-800-622-6232.
Climate Change - 12 Things You Can Do
Emissions from fossil fuels used in transportation (your car), home heating (your furnace), and coal and natural-gas fired power plants are contributing to the rapid change of our global climate. The good news is that you can help minimize the warming by saving energy and using more renewable energy. We can all take action to reduce the amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses that we generate. We can do it, and we can do it quickly.
You can cut your CO2 emissions by about 20,000 pounds with these easy actions:
1. Choose clean energy where possible. For alternatives, visit the BC Sustainable Energy Association's website at www.bcsea.org, check out energy conservation tips at www.bchydro.com, or offset your carbon emissions with Terrapass at www.terrapass.com.
2. Drive a hybrid or fuel efficient car - one that gets at least 32 MPG. (Pounds of CO2 Savings Per Year = 5,200)
3. Recycle. Recycling saves a lot of energy needed to make new products. Recycle your glass, aluminum, plastic, cardboard and newspapers. (Pounds of CO2 Savings Per Year = 2,400)
4. Adjust your thermostat. Turn it down 3 degrees in the winter and use fans instead of air conditioners in summer. (Pounds of CO2 Savings Per Year = 1050)
5. Buy a programmable thermostat. Automatically lower your monthly energy bill by giving your heat and air conditioning a break while you are asleep or out. (Pounds of CO2 Savings Per Year = 1,050)
6. Replace worn-out freezers and refrigerators with Energy Star models. The results of this one action can be dramatic - for example, it's been calculated that the United States would 30 need less power plants if all Americans used the most efficient refrigerators. Visit www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca/energystar for a list of energy efficient appliances. (Pounds of CO2 Savings Per Year = 1,000)
7. Turn your computer off overnight and put it into a power save mode. A standard monitor left on overnight uses enough energy to print 5,300 copies. (Pounds of CO2 Savings Per Year = 950)
8. Drive 15 miles less each week. Shrink your gas costs and your waistline by walking, biking and taking public transportation. (Pounds of CO2 Savings Per Year = 900)
9. Avoid idling. Give your engine and the climate a break by turning off your car when you aren't moving... except in traffic or at a stop light of course. Try to cut out 10 minutes of daily idling. (Pounds of CO2 Savings Per Year = 550)
10. Wash clothes in cold or warm water. Skip the hot water on 2 loads per week. You'll save energy and should have less wrinkled clothes. (Pounds of CO2 Savings Per Year = 500)
11. Use compact fluorescent bulbs. It's a bright idea to replace 3 incandescent bulbs with fluorescent bulbs that last up to 10 times as long and use 1/4 of the energy. (Pounds of CO2 Savings Per Year = 300).
12. Keep your tires filled. Your ride will be smoother and you'll save up to 5% on your fuel tab. (Pounds of CO2 Savings Per Year = 275)
The above article is adapted from the North Shore Recycling Program website.