Through science and nature, we ignite wonder and empower dreams.
Science World at TELUS World of Science
1455 Quebec Street
Canada V6A 3Z7
Charitable business number: 10673 4809 RR0001
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rethink!
How much garbage do Canadians generate? What can be recycled, reused or reduced? What does the fourth “R” refer to?
Waste can be sorted into three categories:
Unlike garbage, recyclable materials can be broken down and rebuilt into new items like pillow stuffing, traffic cones or even the lining in ski jackets! Recycling and reusing items reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.
LIST OF ACTIVITIES
Recycling Sort Relay
Recycling Plastics Game
Classroom Recycling Challenge
Canadians generate approximately 31 million tonnes of garbage a year and only recycle about 30 per cent of that material. Each person produces about 2.7 kg of garbage each day. This garbage does not simply disappear when it leaves our sight. It is piled up into large areas called landfills. Unfortunately, our existing landfills are filling up and we have to find new locations for them. The garbage from the City of Vancouver is taken by truck miles out of the city to be dumped, burned or buried.
The solution? Reduce, reuse and recycle!
These three Rs are in this specific order showing their relative importance. Any product takes resources and energy to be made, including when it is recycled, but if we reuse the products we already have, less new products need to be made. And if we can reduce the amount of products, then less energy is needed.
All kinds of materials can be recycled, including tin cans, paper, glass, plastics, batteries and cell phones. However, if these items are not recycled, it may take up to 1 million years for them break down.
Newly-recycled material can be back in circulation or use in as little as eight weeks.
Recyclable materials are broken down and recycled through very different processes. For example, glass is sorted by colour, crushed, mixed, melted and molded while newspaper is made into pulp, cleaned, aerated, screened, bleached, pressed, cut and baled.
To make a shift in our consumption and production lifestyles, we will need to add one more R: Rethink. We need to challenge our current way of living and find a way that is more sustainable. In Metro Vancouver, a goal of Zero Waste is being stressed. To achieve this, the rethinking of Metro Vancouver’s waste systems is currently in place. Part of rethinking our waste is trying to upcycle waste products. Instead of things going through the energy intensive process of recycling, we can turn waste products into new products using creative designs.
Biodegradable: A type of waste, typically originating from plant or animal sources, which can be broken down by other living organisms.
Compost: A decomposed mixture of household leftovers and garden scraps used to improve soil and provide nutrients.
Garbage: Discarded or useless material.
Landfill: A large area of land or an excavated site where collected garbage is deposited and stored until it breaks down or dissolves—which usually takes million of years.
Pulp: A mixture of cellulose material, such as wood, paper and rags, ground up and moistened to make paper.
Recycle: To pass or put through a cycle again for further treatment.
Reduce: To bring down or lower the number of something.
Rethink: To challenge our current concepts and systems, and create different ones.
Reuse: To use something once again.
Upcycle: To find a creative new use of an old waste product.
Science World at TELUS World of Science | Our World: BMO Sustainability Gallery
Science World Resources | Snowflakes out of recycled pop can holders (PDF)
BC Green Games | The Fernie Academy Planet Protectors | Recycled Paper Logs and Campfire Pucks
BC Green Games | Royal Oak Green Team | Tower Power
Metro Vancouver | Outreach | Zero Waste Challenge
North Shore Recycling Program | Programs
Junkology | Creative Projects
Recycling Council of BC | Recycling Programs and Resources
National Geographic | Plastic Recycling Guide