By Tasmia Jamil
On Thursday, November 22nd, Heather Govender came to Milton District High School after school to talk about environmental stewardship. As a producer of only 1.1 kg of waste in the entire year of 2015, we were fortunate to have her come and share her tips on auditing and reducing our waste.
Heather began by introducing Halton Green Screens, a program of the Halton Environmental Network (HEN), of which she is the Program Director. She has been running the program since 2015 and raises awareness of environmental issues through it. The program shows environmental films or documentaries in the Halton Region, along with discussions or educational workshops. Upcoming films include The Woman Who Loves Giraffes, The Superfood Chain, and Sea of Life.
Another part of HEN (Halton Environmental Network) is the #HaltonWasteChallenge. This is a simple challenge to help participants be more aware of the impacts of their actions and to make choices that will have positive environmental impacts. Heather explained that it’s personal because it’s “something you see, you feel, and you touch,” while it also “makes a big difference through small actions.”
Before explaining the challenge, Heather asked which of the Three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) are the most helpful to the environment. Though they are all equally important, she went on to explain that reducing is the most impactful.
She explained that reducing consumption is important because, across the world, landfills are running out of space for garbage. Recycling is also a great way to keep garbage from going to landfills and reducing waste. Reusing can be impactful if it leads to reducing. This can include using reusable water bottles, as they reduce the volume of plastic water bottles ending up in the garbage.
Heather then spoke about the three steps of the #HaltonWasteChallenge, which are listed below.
Step 1: Commit to one small thing you can do to reduce waste
This can be done easily and is more environmentally friendly than buying new items. You can start off small by bringing utensils from home rather than using plastic ones from the cafeteria and using reusable straws and water bottles. Then you can venture further by bringing your own bags to the grocery store instead of getting new plastic ones every time or going to thrift stores and keeping old clothes instead of keeping up with the latest trends. These are all quick and easy ways to help the environment. You can even start now!
Step 2: Try one BIGGER thing you can do to reduce waste
There’s always more you can do to help the environment and once you’ve started small you can go even further with BIG ideas. This can be done by cooking food without prepackaged ingredients, starting a garden for your own produce, or simply recycling the things you own. For example, keeping old birthday banners or creating new clothes out of old clothes. The opportunities are limitless.
You can even be like Heather and create your own personal care products! She made toothpaste out of clay powder, baking soda, coconut oil, xylitol, and some peppermint; you can start off by going to your dentist and asking them the basics on how toothpaste is made!
Step 3: Engage Others
As an environmental steward, it’s best to have the support and involvement of more than one person. You can start by talking to others about the environment and persuading them to make eco-friendly decisions.
We all have a responsibility to protect our planet. Every choice we make should have a positive impact on the environment generations down the road. The more we talk to others and help them understand this, the better our chances will be to saving the Earth.
Now that you know about the #HaltonWasteChallenge, why don’t you help the environment and take on the challenge?
To start, here are some of Heather’s waste reduction activities, which you can try:
You can also visit Heather’s Blog to find out more!