January 20th, 2021

Albertans urged to reduce, reuse, recycle during COVID-19

By Jensen, Randy on May 23, 2020.

Tyler Hay

For The Herald

Leading environmental groups are encouraging Albertans to act to improve the environment while adhering to public health orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is definitely posing many challenges for the zero-waste movement >including small, local businesses who are being hit hard. It is important that we support these businesses that make conscious efforts to reduce waste or offer zero-waste alternatives. Our buying power has never been stronger and will shape our post-pandemic future,” said Briana Loughlin, co-founder of Plastic-Free YYC. >

The Recycling Council of Alberta, Plastic-Free YYC, Waste Free Edmonton and Environment Lethbridge have shared steps individuals can take to better the environment while social distancing.

“For example, continuing to use reusable items as long as they are properly sanitized, avoiding the temptation to over-purchase food and other goods due to the current scarcity mentality, supporting the second-hand economy where possible and repairing and repurposing existing items,” said Melissa Gorrie, co-founder of Waste Free Edmonton.

The groups encourage shoppers to still use reusable grocery bags, but to bag their own groceries to limit contact with cashiers. Meal planning can help to reduce food waste and limit trips to the grocery store.

“These are challenging times, but community members can continue to reduce waste in their own homes. For example, being conscious of good food storage and preparation techniques can help to reduce food waste and save money,” said Kathleen Sheppard, executive director of Environment Lethbridge.

Other ways people can help improve the environment, according to the groups, include: saving items for when second-hand stores continue to take donations; cleaning up trash in our neighbourhood (with gloves); and saving beverage containers if your local bottle depot is closed.

“Alberta has excellent examples of reduction efforts across the province including reuse, repair and recycling businesses, events, groups and communities,” said Christina Seidel, executive director of the Recycling Council of Alberta. “While some of these organizations have had to shut down temporarily or limit hours, there are still many actions people can take with the environment in mind.

Recycling, waste management and packaging recycling have been deemed essential services in Alberta. A study conducted by the Recycling Council of Alberta (RCA) in 2018 highlighted that Alberta’s recycling sector generated $700 million in economic value in 2018 and supported over 7,500 direct jobs. >

“With these environmental, social and economic benefits in mind we continue to advocate for zero-waste initiatives and a circular economy,” said Seidel. >

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