Food waste and 'fast fashion' harming the environment, says waste authority

The banana peel you threw in the trash over top of that cheap $10 shirt you don't wear anymore are harming the environment, according to the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority.

Windsor and Essex County recognizing Waste Reduction Week

The banana peel you threw in the trash over top of that cheap $10 shirt you don't wear anymore are harming the environment, warns the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority. (CBC)

When it comes to reducing waste, people in Windsor and Essex County aren't doing very well.

According to the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority, food waste accounts for 39 per cent of what's in a single bag of residential garbage in Windsor-Essex. The provincial average is 49 per cent.

"We want people to start thinking about ... using their leftovers and buying the proper amount of food," said waste reduction coordinator Heather Taylor.

Last year, the province announced a framework which will ban food and organic waste from ending up in disposal sites by 2022. Windsor will be one of the cities legislated to have a curbside pickup program.

For Taylor, the four-year gap should encourage people "to make changes in their own life right now" in terms of reducing food waste. She said the waste authority will be discounting backyard composters​ and "green cone digesters" starting Friday.

Reducing waste by avoiding 'fast fashion'

"Back in the day, there used to be two fashion seasons ... Now, there's 22 micro-seasons where the fashion's changing almost weekly and consumers are trying to keep up," said Taylor, adding people often buy a high quantity of cheap clothes.

The result, according to the waste authority, is large amounts of clothing ending up in landfills. The organization says synthetic fibres — polyester, nylon and acrylic — have huge environmental impacts because they are made from petroleum and can take thousands of years to biodegrade.

Clothes that aren't thrown away still consume a ton of resources, the waste authority warns.

"One load of washing uses 151 litres of water ... One load of drying uses 5 times more energy than washing," said the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority on their website, adding people should "choose quality over quantity" and buy only what they need.

Taylor suggests people donate their clothes to charities and drop-off centres where it can be recycled and reused.

Plastic straw reduction making a difference

For Taylor, the reduction of single-use plastic straws by a number of Windsor-Essex businesses is a great step forward toward creating a more sustainable world.

LaSalle's Vollmer Complex has eliminated single-use straws and stir sticks.

John Max Sports & Wings has eliminated single-use straws, Styrofoam containers, plastic bags, and single-use sauce. The sports bar is also receiving food waste collection from GreenerBins Composting Company.