Environmental, Social & Governance: What is it? What Does it Mean For You?

The word “sustainability” is frequently used as a buzz word in the business and consumer community, continuously trending, in some capacity or another. As a consumer, I am constantly shopping (and investing) with a ‘vote with my spending’ mindset, attempting to purchase or invest with companies or businesses that have the same values, morals, and ethics that I do in any capacity (environmental, naturally derived ingredients, fair-trade, social governance etc). Buzzwords such as ‘natural, sustainable, organic, fair-trade, and even profits to charity’ are all catch words that grab consumers attention to assist in the consumption of their goods or services. But what do these words really mean and how can you measure or truly know that a company aligns with your values/morals/ethics?

That is where ‘Environmental, Social & Corporate Governance’ (or ESG) steps in. ESG refers to the three main factors that make up ‘sustainability’ (environmental, social, and economic), but provides a more measurable set of metrics that hold businesses accountable, rather then showcasing ‘fluff’ buzzwords that carry no value. These metrics can vary from company to company based on applicability, but generally follow a core set of 21 metrics (or 34 expanded), focusing on four areas: people, prosperity, planet, and principles of governance. In these focus areas, some metrics and disclosures that are standard are anti-corruption, greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, stakeholder engagement, health and safety, jobs created and even economic contribution.

For the most part, ESG is more widely associated with investments that consumers, or investors rather, use to help better determine the future financial performance and longevity of companies. In this, it is a tool for such investors to evaluate companies to make responsible investments that align with their values/ethics/morals without having to compromise on returns. The criteria holds value for investors that have the idea that if corporations incorporate environmental, social and corporate governance into their business model, than there is a higher chance these businesses returns and financial wellbeing improve (based on the fact that they are well positioned for the future and changing markets). These metrics are also helpful for investors to avoid companies that perhaps pose a greater financial risk due to their ESG practices/metrics.

Many companies have now established ESG as a baseline for investors to evaluate their company before making financial decisions. These companies have dedicated people and positions to formulate ESG reporting metrics and have them write reports or upload analytics to web-based platforms. There are also many third-party web-based platforms that assist in analyzing the ESG of major companies, such as sustainalytics.com, which provides its own rating system for each major corporation. Given this, it can be as simple as doing a quick google search or as complicated as reading a 50-page analytical report documenting all ESG measures per company – it all depends on the level of knowledge you want as an investor/consumer.

So are you going to read a 50-page ESG report to ensure you are morally purchasing your next box of cereal? Probably not- but essentially the same principals apply if you wanted to. Consumers and investors alike should use their spending as a vote towards goods and services they believe in, morally or otherwise. ESG provides the accountable criteria for businesses to allow all of us to make responsible spending decisions. We as consumers and investors need to stop allowing the fluffy/trendy words to grab our attention and focus on real hard data from reported metrics. This is easier said than done, but if you genuinely want to ‘vote with your spending’ or ‘invest in something you believe in,’ then using ESG metrics is the best possible way to know exactly what your dollars are going towards.

Ontario’s Food & Organic Waste Framework: Organics Landfill Ban

Did you know that as of next year, the Ontario government is planning to start banning organics from the landfill? This means that as an end consumer, commercial or residential, the disposal and sorting your organics from your garbage will be mandatory as soon as early 2022. But what does this really mean for you and your business? That is what we aim to answer in this blog post.

As you may or may not already know from previous blog posts, the Ontario government is shifting to a circular economy in the way of garbage, recycling, and organic waste. This means that all materials entering the disposal system are never discarded, rather they are reused or recycled into new products. This is the motivation that is behind the organics landfill ban.

Although there are many conflicting views on the organics landfill ban, there is a general consensus that this is an important step in the waste management industry to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. This is a big step for the environment, but it will require lots of planning and a bit of a mindshift for residents and business owners.

If you are a commercial customer operating within the IC&I (Institutional, Commercial & Industrial) sector and do not yet have an organics disposal/diversion program, you will likely be mandated to set one up in 2022. To get ahead of the curve, our recommendation is to have an organics diversion program in place and working before you are regulated to do so. I know this can be confusing for employers and employees alike, but it does not have to be!

Honestly, setting up an organics program has never been easier. Here at Davidson Environmental, we can take care of the hard work that goes into creating a successful organics program. You can properly divert all of your food waste without any of the mess or hassle by using our services. We work with you to design a custom organic waste program that fits the needs of your business, to ensure you can effectively divert your food waste with minimal effort for you and your employees. To make the program even easier we provide a cart exchange service, which means that every time we service you (whether it be daily or weekly) we take your full cart and you can expect a clean, empty cart in its place. Our goal is to create minimal work for you and your employees, all while ensuring your business is compliant with Ontario government regulations that are being phased in early next year. 

Overall, there has never been a better time to get onboard with organics recycling. With regulations on the way from the Ontario government and a general consensus that diverting organic waste from the landfill is better for the environment, the time is nigh. Establishing an organic waste program is an integral part to successful waste management at your business. So what are you waiting for? Call or click today to get your quote for our services. I am sure you will be surprised at how cost effective doing the right thing for the environment can be!

Where Does Your Food Waste Go?

An Overview of What Davidson Environmental Does with Your Waste!

You may be one of our customers, or you may just be interested in our service – either way, this blog post will take you through exactly what we do with your food waste when our drivers pick it up.

There are all kinds of businesses that fall into the institutional, commercial, and industrial (IC&I) category that participate in our food waste recycling service. Among those businesses are restaurants, hospitals, long term care homes and retail establishments (and everywhere in between that has food and/or serves food). From these places, we get all types of different food waste, including, prepared food, biproduct foods (such as coffee grinds, or peelings), packaged foods, produce and meats/poultry. We take it all!

Once our drivers collect this food waste from our assortment of customers, that food waste comes back to our warehouse. We then begin offloading the food waste, sorting it and putting it in our trailer for its end destination. Once this trailer gets full (approximately 36 tonnes of food waste!), it is tarped and ready for transport to StormFisher, a London, Ontario based BioGas facility.

The BioGas process is part of a biological waste treatment method used in waste treatment plants everywhere in the world. Most of us have heard of ‘composting’ as the way to recycle food waste, and although that process holds true during the BioGas process, the difference is that instead of releasing the gases produced during the fermentation process, the gases are collected and used as a fuel product. The break down of steps are as follows:

  1. Liquid organic waste, animal manure and solid organic waste is led into a digester where an anaerobic process using bacteria ferments the waste and produces biogas as a gaseous biproduct.
  2. Through the fermentation process, a high nutrient ‘sludge’ or ‘compost’ is collected as a biproduct that can later be returned to the ground as a method of fertilization
  3. Any packaging or non-digestible solids are collected through the process and discarded as necessary
  4. This biogas produced is further processed, resulting in a gas consisting of mostly methane. This is similar to natural gas obtained from the oil and gas fields.
  5. The methane and carbon dioxide gases can be stored under high pressures in cylinders or pumped directly back into the grid for use in both renewable electricity and renewable natural gas.

This is the current journey that your food waste takes to get recycled with our service. In the near future, this procedure will be modified when we fully install the BioSqueeze 200 system, the first of its kind in North America to process IC&I food waste. This will help better sort the waste between food waste and packaging, ensuring we are able to recycle more food waste then ever before, while properly disposing of packaging, garbage and other non-digestible solid waste. More details on this new equipment will be released very soon!

If you have any questions about any of our processes or services, please do not hesitate to reach out to us for more details.  

Sustainable Resolutions for the New Year

When entering a new year, there is a general association that resolutions should be created to ‘start the new year off on the right foot’ (so to speak). Although this sometimes does come off a bit cheesy, I do think we could all use some positive change after the fiasco 2020 has brought us. Some resolutions are difficult to fulfill right now due to COVID-19, as gyms, health clubs, sports clubs and other activity/experience spots are closed. However, there are lots of other resolutions you can make right from the comfort of your own home or office. Specifically, I want to focus on environmental resolutions! This type of resolution is often overlooked because it does not seem like it would be a ‘resolution,’ but we can all do more in our everyday lives to reduce our environmental impact.

Depending on your current level of environmental commitment, some items may seem small while others may seem extreme. Any commitment is better then no commitment at all, so there are no small resolutions.

New to the environmental scene:

If you are new to the environmental movement and want to start doing your part, there are lots of ‘low hanging fruit’ resolutions that you can take upon yourself to do. Here are just a few ideas of some changes you can make in 2021:

  1. Start Recycling (Properly)!

Maybe you are already doing this, or maybe you are not. Either way, it is time to start doing it – properly. Check with your local guidelines of how to properly recycle in your area, including plastics, cardboard and of course, food waste. The key to recycling is to ensure you are doing it correctly. Trying to recyclable unrecyclable items (often referred to as “wishcycling”) in any waste stream is counter productive. Read your local recycling guidelines and follow it. It may be tedious at first, but it will become second nature in no time.

  1. Swap One Disposal Item for a Reusable Alternative

For example, this item could be a straw, utensils, papertowel, plastic bags, water bottle – the options are endless. If you are ambitious, try swapping a few items this year.

  1. Try Incorporating “Meatless Monday” or Reducing Meat/Dairy Consumption

Any reduction in your consumption of meat and dairy can help to reduce your carbon footprint. There are lots of options that you can undertake to accomplish this. Maybe you only eat meat on weekends, incorporate “Meatless Mondays” (where you just choose not to eat meat on Mondays) or even try going vegan for 30 days – whatever works best for you and your lifestyle. When you do buy and consume meat and dairy, try to purchase from sustainable sources, when possible.

Moderate/Medium commitment to the environment already:

If you have made some adjustments in your life already but are looking to make some larger commitments this year – here are a few options for you:

  1. Say No to Fast Fashion

Fast fashion is every where and it is hard to escape or say no to low priced, trendy clothes – I get it! But if you create/build a time capsule closet (basically items that have ‘stood the test of time’ – think jeans for example), you will not have to buy as many clothes, but they will all be high quality, sustainable fashion. All it takes a quick “Sustainable Clothing Brands’ google to find a wide variety of clothes that fit every style.

  1. Prioritize Shopping Locally/Organic

Prioritize this but there is no need to make yourself crazy and exclusively shop in this manner. If you can every time, perfect! But buying locally sourced fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy can be hard sometimes depending on the season and where you live! If it is an option for you, try to buy organic when possible.

  1. Look for Second Hand Before Buying New

With new web applications popping up all the time, there is no reason to exhaust the ‘gently used’ market before pulling the trigger on a new purchase. There are all kinds of things on those apps and you can set alerts for items you are looking for. Not to mention good old thrift store hopping. It is a great way to reuse items people no longer want/need and save a few bucks in the process. Win-win!  

For the avid, experienced, environmentalist:

If you have already incorporated some of the above initiatives into your life and are looking to make a life altering resolution this year, these are a few that could make a big impact:

  1. Become Zero Waste

This is a tough one and it requires you to rethink a lot of things in your everyday life. Regular tasks need to be altered to accommodate this, such as, buying foods in bulk, making homemade items, and carrying around everyday items (straw, utensil, water bottle, etc). Any reduction of waste is beneficial, so do not feel pressured to go fully zero waste overnight. Might be easier (and it might actually stick) if you work your way up to the full commitment. An option would also be to measure how much waste you generate, and try decreasing it each week/month. There are lots of different guides and tricks to get started.

  1. Start Your Own Garden

Although we are a bit constrained by seasonality here in Niagara, home gardens are a great way to consume local, fresh produce 6 months of the year. This takes some time and planning is required, but it is rewarding. If you are ambitious, you can take up canning/jarring as well to consume your local produce all year round.

  1. Change Up Your Commute

Instead of driving to work/school everyday, there are lots of alternative methods of transportation that could be taken. For those closer to work, try walking, or biking. For those of you who live a little bit too far to accomplish that, try carpooling or taking public transit. Or, you could try to avoid the commute all together, and try to work from home a few times a week.

As detailed in this blog post, there are both small and large resolutions you can make this year that help the environment (and you!). Remembering that you can not change your entire life overnight, and small steps will ensure long term success! Are there any resolutions on this list that you are thinking of committing to this year?

We Are Dreaming of a Green Christmas!

How to Have an Eco-Friendly Christmas- Even in a Pandemic!

With the holiday season coming up, it is time to start thinking how we can fit the environment into our Christmas plans. Christmas will look a little bit different this year, but that does not mean we cannot take this opportunity to change some of our habits & traditions and curb our environmental impact during the holiday season.

The Celebration

Although the pandemic will impact how we celebrate our Christmas this year, there are some ways we can celebrate safely that inherently reduce our carbon footprint. Since we cannot gather all together this year in real life, gathering virtually is a great option and it reduces the amount of cars on the road, therefore reducing GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions across Ontario (and the rest of the world!).  Certainly a win-win for you and the environment, and making the best out of an unideal situation.

The Christmas Tree

There are always on-going debates between whether a real or fake tree is more eco-friendly than one another- I am here to debunk this dispute! However, it is a fairly complicated answer. If you already own an artificial tree, stick with what you have until it no longer works for you! You need to use that tree for over 20 years for it to be more sustainable than the natural tree counterpart. However, buying a natural tree when you already have a replacement is not required or sustainable. Therefore, if you have a fake tree, use it until you cannot! On that note, if you do not own an artificial tree, your best route is to go with a real, all natural tree. The likelihood of you keeping an artificial tree for over 20 years is low and given this, real trees are the more eco-friendly way to go! Who would have thought! After the season of Christmas, they are able to be processed as organic waste and composted. When choosing a real Christmas tree, try to opt for one that is grown locally so you can support your local economy/farms.

The Décor

There are lots of options for décor that have a reduced environmental impact.

For lighting, choose LEDs or Energy Star certified light strands – this helps you to reduce your electricity bills and helps to reduce fossil fuel emissions. This applies to all decorative light elements, including indoor and outdoor pieces.

For other décor elements, try using all natural, compostable items to make your house more festive. You are probably thinking – like what? Get outside and enjoy the fresh air while collecting pinecones, trimming tree greenery and fallen birch tree branches. These are all sustainable, compostable, and not to mention free, décor items that will make your home festive without having to purchase more waste to go into the landfill. The tree trimmings will only last the season, but the pinecones and birch tree pieces are storable and re-useable for years to come (& compostable at the end of their life)!

Other décor ideas include getting crafty & making your own ornaments and garlands. Items such as popcorn, dried cranberries/oranges/apple slices, cinnamon sticks, pinecones, nuts and paper (to make snowflakes and other décor) are all colourful, sometimes scented, options to make your home and tree decorative with a reduced environmental impact and are relatively low budget options.

The Gifts

Instead of frivolous spending this year on material items people do not need, consider buying people experiences to create memories with you and others. This is not as easy as it would be in previous years with COVID being a factor, however, there are still some ‘experience’ type gifts that you can give that support our local economy and give people the opportunity to do something different that does not create more landfill waste.

Some alternative gifts you could include are:

  • Gift cards for local restaurants (maybe it is your favourite restaurant and perhaps the gift receiver has never eaten there before!)
  • Online subscription services for tv shows, movies or music (ex. Spotify or Netflix)
  • Virtual classes (cooking, baking, flower arranging)
  • Meal kit subscription box
  • Annual Parks pass
  • Local museum/botanical garden memberships
  • DIY Artwork and eco crafts
  • Charitable donation in the recipient’s name

You could also buy items that make someone’s home a little more eco-friendly, this could include beeswax wraps, a reusable coffee mug (if they don’t have one already) and even items such as LED light fixtures or smart thermostat for those with larger budgets.

Even though Christmas will not look the same this year, it should be taken as an opportunity to rethink the holiday season and make habits and traditions a bit more eco-friendly with some of the suggestions above. Do you have any eco-friendly traditions of your own during the holiday season? We would love to hear some from you to add to our list!

12 Plastic Items to Replace at Your Own Pace

In our last blog post, we discussed the on-going debate of reusable vs disposable items, including but not limited to coffee cups, bags and containers. This debate is complex and multi-level (read our last blog post if you haven’t!) but there are some key items that the average ‘sustainable’ consumer should integrate into their everyday lives. Specifically, reusable items are pertinent when the alterative ends up in the landfill. Some items and practices are more easily integrated while others require some adjustment and alternative thought process. The most important thing to keep in mind is to make these adjustments at your own pace. Changing your entire lifestyle overnight is not going to set you up for long-term success. Some swaps are easier than others, and somethings work better for some people more then others. The key is to find what works best for you and your family.

  1. Items packaged in excessive plastic

When possible, opt for unpackage or limited packaging items. If this is not possible, try to choose items that have recyclable packaging – such as glass or metal (i.e. soup).

  1. Disposable cups

Whether you are going to your local coffee joint or getting a drink from the water cooler at work, bring a reusable cup or bottle. Do not use the little water cones and stop buying bottled water. The key to this is to only buy one (i.e. do not over consume reusable bottles/cups) and stick with it. It will become habitual. I promise.

  1. Single use cutlery

Bring a set of metal, reusable, cutlery with you wherever you go. This may sound a bit extreme or ridiculous but standard disposable cutlery goes directly to the landfill. Some restaurant establishments offer compostable cutlery as an alternative which is certainly better than their disposable counterparts, but reusable is the best option! They have convenient carriers for this now, that keep the cutlery contained, discrete and clean.

  1. Disposable straws

Along with your metal, reusable, cutlery, bring a long a straw! This falls into the same category as disposable cutlery, in the way of landfill garbage. Not recyclable in anyway, unless of course its paper or made of an alternative compostable material. However, reusable is the best option!

  1. Plastic lunch/freezer bags (i.e. Ziploc bags)

These are made of recyclable material, but not recyclable due to the ‘zipper’ locking component. A compostable option is to use a brown paper bag but a better, reusable option is a glass container or even a beeswax wrap – which brings me to the next point

  1. Plastic wrap

Best alternative that actually works – beeswax wraps! Buy these already!! I have brought them up in many of my blog posts because they are the best reusable & compostable product out there! Plastic wrap is terrible for the environment. It is used in access, unnecessarily, for convenience and goes directly into the landfill!

  1. Disposable or plastic food storage containers

This can be difficult if you get takeout or take leftovers home from a restaurant but try to eat at places that offer the compostable take away containers vs the Styrofoam versions. Spend your money where I counts. Your money is a vote towards something you believe in! If your favourite restaurant doesn’t offer compostable versions, maybe ask to speak with a manager to get that changed. Otherwise, at home – use glass or metal containers instead of plastic. Of course, if you already own plastic ones, do not throw them out just to buy glass or metal, use them until they’ve reached the end of their life.

  1. Liquid soaps

Although liquid soaps are enticing with their pretty packaging, unique scents and varying bottle designs, they utilize excessive plastic packaging (that is recyclable at its end of life) that use excessive natural resources. Rather then use liquid dish, laundry or shampoo soaps, try bar and powder soaps instead! You can even make your own with customized scents, etc and they come in limited to no packaging.

  1. Disposable plastic sponges/dish cloths/scrubber

Instead, use a natural sponge or loofah. Another options is a reusable silicone scrubbing pad. Although the silicone version is garbage at its end of life, it has a fairly small waste footprint comparatively and will last for years.

  1. Household Cleaners

Always an option to make your own for bulk items, or opt for ones that are in glass, metal or cardboard.

  1. Plastic Cutting Boards

These are a staple in my house, but they are not great for the environment. They are so convenient and do last an exceptionally long time due to their durability. This is one of the last items I have converted to a sustainable source because I feel bad throwing them out prematurely. If your plastic cutting boards are nearing their end of life, consider replacing them with a bamboo or wooden cutting board. Better for you and the environment!

  1. Fabric softener/dryer sheets

Organic wool dryer balls are a great alternative to these! The best part is that you can scent them with your favourite essential oil for a fresh smelling load of laundry, every time!

As we stated before, these changes are just suggestions that assist in making reducing your waste output footprint. These are some small changes that can get you started on the path of sustainability and really are just the ‘low hanging fruit’ on the sustainable lifestyle adjustment. Are there any items we missed or amazing alternatives? We would love to hear from you!

 

ABOUT US: Established in 1996, Davidson Environmental is a waste haulage company based out of St. Catharines, Ontario. In 1996, James Davidson, Owner & CEO of Davidson Environmental, decided to explore an area of waste management that would be new to the Niagara Region- recycling organic materials through composting. Starting with a trailer and 12 totes at a flower shop, James has built a company that today employs over 30 Niagara region residents and runs 24 hours a day. Although we are a diverse company serving all the waste needs of businesses of varying sizes, we have kept our primary focus on food waste organics. Our service area encompasses the Regions of Niagara, Hamilton, Haldimand, Halton, Oxford, Brant, Norfolk, Waterloo, Wellington, Perth, Huron, Grey, Middlesex, Lambton, Chatem-Kent, and Essex. We are also able to service Toronto by using cooperative services with another organics company. We have 10 trucks, capable of servicing any waste disposal need your business may have. Today, Davidson Environmental is proud to offer a variety of cost-effective, clean, simple and environmentally responsible methods of disposing of the waste produced by your business in Southern and South Western Ontario.

Reusable vs. Disposable – What is truly better for the environment?

As we move away from single use plastics here in Canada (the Trudeau government plans on banning single use plastics by 2021), many companies have chosen to provide their customers and clients with alternative product counterparts that are either reusable or biodegradable/compostable/degradable. While we are all for the biodegradable/compostable/degradable products, we question the sustainability of more reusable products entering the marketplace, such as bags and water bottles.

Reusable items have their time and place – do not get us wrong. When used in the right ways (which we will explain in this post), reusable products could be immensely important in protecting the environment. However, when used in the wrong ways, reusable products could cause detrimental affects to the environment – diminishing large amounts of natural resources and creating more garbage. To produce a reusable bag or water bottle (or any other reusable item for that matter), many natural resources need to be used to create that product. There is no product on this earth that does not have an impact on the environment.

In our current society, we largely rely on ‘throw away’ products (especially in the age of Covid-19) and the over consumption of goods. Even when we are not in a pandemic, it is arguable that for the majority of society, throwing things out prior to the end of their life, is normal. This is largely due to the fact that the next new, bigger and better versions are available. This is the largest issue with reusable products that replace their disposal counterparts – if the reusable product is thrown out prematurely or not used enough times before its end of life, then reusable products are actually more harmful to the environment. This, coupled with the large amount/variety of reusable items per household, validates the concern regarding the sustainability of our current consumption patterns of reusable products.

I, myself have fallen victim to marketing gimmicks that claim I ‘need’ this new reusable bottle/bag/coffee tumbler because it is ‘more ecofriendly’ (or just fancier) then my current one. Although that may be the case, buying that new one to throw out my old one is not environmentally sustainable at all. It is still in perfectly good condition, but marketing sells and then the cycle continues. Eventually, before I know it, I have more reusable water bottles in my house then I have plates. I know that I am not the only one that this happens to, and its all in the name of marketing and the process of ‘thinking’ you are doing better for the environment. This is not sustainable spending or environmentally responsible.

The same case stands with plastic bags vs reusable bags. How many reusable bags do I have in my house? Too many. I know that for the majority of Canadians, this is the case. Sometimes you get them for free with a purchase, or maybe you have bought a set from your local grocery store. Either way, if you are anything like me, you will end up leaving them in your car or at your house when you go to do groceries and end up needing to buy plastic bags anyway. This is not sustainable. According to a study in Denmark, you would need to use the reusable cotton bag over 7,000 times for it to be ‘worth’ the amount of resources used to create it. 7,000 times! That is a lot of groceries.

The issue with all these reusable items is that we over-consume them, do not use them enough to warrant their natural resource impact and then at the end of their lives, they are landfill garbage. 99% of these products are not recyclable or compostable. This is where the reusable vs single use (or a few use) plastics debate gets tricky. Here in Niagara, we are actually able to recycle polyethylene, the type of plastic regular grocery bags are made of, fairly efficiently. Water bottles, styrofoam and aluminum are also all recyclable here in Niagara. Coffee cups from your regular fast food joint are not recyclable in the Niagara Region system, however here at Davidson Environmental, coffee cups are compostable in our recycling stream. So from a waste generation perspective, reusable is not better because as stated above, most reusable items are designated for the landfill – unless, of course, you use the item enough to warrant the disposal of it. But how many times do you need to use it to make it worth it? There does not seem to be a clear answer. Although I do not believe we can necessarily put a value on natural resources, we all know how important they are for us and the environment. Given this, consuming less natural resources per person is beneficial.

However, another level of this debate to consider is that even though all these single use plastic items are recyclable, in some way or another, are they being disposed of properly, every time? No. Water bottles, coffee cups and plastic bags are ending up in our waterways, oceans and lakes, effecting our livelihood and the animals that live in those conditions. This directly falls onto careless consumers and again, the ‘throw away’ life style we mentioned earlier in this blog post. In this case, when not disposed of properly, reusable items are far better from a waste generation perspective because at least they don’t get constantly littered.

In sum, there are so many things to assess when you buy a reusable item that are far reach the span of the average consumers thought process when making a purchase. We are not saying that all reusable items are bad or that you should stop using them. Our hope is to provide you with guidelines that help to influence your choices when making your next ‘reusable item’ purchase.

Here are some things to consider:

If you already have reusable items:

  • Use them until you can no longer use them (metal ones can last decades!)
  • Do not purchase more until you have fully used your previous ones (throwing items out prematurely is just a waste of natural resources and takes up space in the landfill – you do not need the next new thing! Yours still works!)
  • When it comes time to purchase a new one, consider the below guidelines

If you are in the market to purchase new ones:

  • Look at the company you are purchasing the item from – do they have ethical or sustainable values?

 

 

 

ABOUT US: Established in 1996, Davidson Environmental is a waste haulage company based out of St. Catharines, Ontario. In 1996, James Davidson, Owner & CEO of Davidson Environmental, decided to explore an area of waste management that would be new to the Niagara Region- recycling organic materials through composting. Starting with a trailer and 12 totes at a flower shop, James has built a company that today employs over 30 Niagara region residents and runs 24 hours a day. Although we are a diverse company serving all the waste needs of businesses of varying sizes, we have kept our primary focus on food waste organics. Our service area encompasses the Regions of Niagara, Hamilton, Haldimand, Halton, Oxford, Brant, Norfolk, Waterloo, Wellington, Perth, Huron, Grey, Middlesex, Lambton, Chatem-Kent, and Essex. We are also able to service Toronto by using cooperative services with another organics company. We have 10 trucks, capable of servicing any waste disposal need your business may have. Today, Davidson Environmental is proud to offer a variety of cost-effective, clean, simple and environmentally responsible methods of disposing of the waste produced by your business in Southern and South Western Ontario.

The Year of Disposables – How to Keep the Environment in Mind During these Unprecedented Times

With Stage 3 around the corner for us here in Ontario, individuals and businesses have had to rethink how they conduct everyday tasks to protect their families, employees, customers, and clients from contracting or spreading COVID-19. With these safety protocols in place, many businesses and individuals have chosen to switch to disposable products to ensure the highest precaution is taken to detain the virus. This includes, but is not limited to, disposable disinfectant wipes, cutlery, take out containers, plates, masks, and everything in between. Although its obvious we all need to prioritize stopping the spread of the virus, we need to also keep in mind our increased wastefulness. For almost every disposable product, there is a more sustainable alternative. This blog aims to provide you with some suggestions on how to decrease your wastefulness as we continue

Masks

The use of masks has proven to be an effective approach in decreasing the spread of COVID-19. Given this, they are an encouraged item to wear when you go uptown to do groceries or fulfill other essential needs. Some stores, hospitals, and other establishments, have chosen to offer disposable masks at their entrance ways (great example of this is Costco – who requires you to wear a mask while shopping in their stores).  These masks are great in a pinch, but have a very limited life cycle. Once you use it once (maybe twice depending on duration of use), it is considered garbage. They are not recyclable or reusable, and therefore go straight into the landfill. An alternative to this is to purchase, or make your own, reusable mask. These can be used several times over the course of the year and are machine washable. Additionally, they are relatively low cost and are just as effective as disposable surgical masks.

Take Out Containers, Plates & Cutlery

Restaurants across the country are focusing on take out options more then ever before. This means more “to go” containers, disposable cutlery and disposable napkins going out the door in place of their reusable versions. Restaurant owners need to consider curbing their environmental impact by using compostable versions of these types of products, in which all exist & in some cases, are more cost effective then other types. There are many types of containers, including some that are garbage and some that are recyclable. Although the recyclable ones are much better then those that are considered garbage, they are most likely more costly then those that are compostable, in comparison. Given this, the most economic and environmentally friendly thing to do is to focus on a completely compostable “to go” type products.  

Disinfectant Wipes

When the pandemic first started, it was difficult to find disposable wipes anywhere – shelves were cleared in what seemed like seconds. Although these do a great job at disinfecting, and are convenient, they are full of chemicals and go directly into the landfill after their use.  An alternative to this would be plant based, eco-friendly disinfectant solution (there are lots of brands, however, 7 Generation and Method brand both make amazing ones), sprayed/put on paper towels. This is just as effective as any disinfectant wipe, but healthier for you, your family and the environment. Paper towel with an eco-friendly, plant based disinfectant can go directly into your compost bin. For convenience on the go – coat paper towel with the disinfectant and place inside a reusable container or bag. An easy zero waste and harsh chemical free solution!

Hand Sanitizer

Although hand sanitizer is necessary during these times, there are better ways to go about purchasing it rather then in multiple tiny bottles. Although we all need hand sanitizer on the go, a more sustainable option would be to buy a larger bottle of it and continuously refill smaller containers you already own. Perhaps these containers are reusable containers or even just hand sanitizer containers that have run dry.

Overall, there are lots of things we as a society can be doing to reduce, reuse and recycle – even in the midst of a pandemic. We should not make the pandemic an excuse to increase our waste outputs when there are plenty of viable, sustainable solutions to meet the needs of everyone. Individuals and businesses alike need to consider the long term affects that extra or excessive garbage will have to our earth and our communities if we do not make the right choices now. I hope that this blog has inspired you to rethink how you go about your waste generation while staying healthy in the current pandemic.

Littering Food & Food Waste: It is Still Littering!

All food decomposes like any other living organism through the growth of bacteria and fungi. As food decomposes, it is reverted back into organic soil nutrients to allow the cycle of growth, decomposition, and nutrient replenishment to continue. All this would lead you to believe that throwing a banana peel out of the window of your car would then not be considered littering because “it will decompose and replenish the earth back with required nutrients” or maybe even feed a hungry squirrel or raccoon. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Littering food waste is still littering, here is why:

To begin, all food decomposes at differing rates. No food decomposes overnight or instantly, which is the majority of the problem. The process of decomposition takes time through the growth and formation of bacteria, which in some cases, could take years to become soil. The average apple core takes approximately 2 months to biodegrade and a banana peel takes over 2 years. Obviously compared to plastic products, which take nearly 200 years to biodegrade, the problem of littering food is almost a non-issue. But that doesn’t mean it is morally correct to do so. If your banana peel is sitting on the ground for over 2 years, it is not good for the environment. One should also consider that most of the fruit peelings that may be littered likely have a plastic sticker on them. Therefore one is not only littering peelings, but also littering plastic, unintentionally. Yes, a sticker is very minor in the grand scheme of littering, but there is no reason or excuse for it.

Additionally, regardless of the fact that it isn’t great for the environment, it isn’t great for humans or animals either. One may think that littering a half eaten apple will help a hungry squirrel or raccoon, and it will – but to a fault. Over time, these animals become reliant on human sourced food and then all of a sudden those animals become pests to you and your garbage (or organics, recycling, etc) bin, yikes! This can escalate quickly when those animals that are reliant on human sourced food are now bears and you are on a hike or in a tent. That may sound drastic, but that is the leading cause for human-bear interactions.

Food and food waste littering is one of the most tolerated forms of littering.  We see someone throwing a plastic water bottle on the ground; we inherently know it is wrong. But for some reason, we see someone throwing an orange peel on the ground, our initial thoughts are “it can’t be that bad – it will decompose or be eaten.” We need to alter our way of thinking in regards to food littering because of the reasons that are listed above.

The best way to dispose of your food, or food waste, is through an organics program. Put the peel in your pocket until you get home, or wrap your apple core in tissue and put it in your purse. There are simple ways to get around not throwing your food on the ground – just hold onto it until you find a garbage bin, or better yet, an organics bin. Professionals, like us, know how to properly handle food waste so that it decomposes at quicker rates then it would in the natural environment, while also being able to capture methane gas for energy and create a high nutrient soil. Contact Davidson Environmental with any food waste questions or concerns, we are here to help! 

 

 

ABOUT US: Established in 1996, Davidson Environmental is a waste haulage company based out of St. Catharines, Ontario. In 1996, James Davidson, Owner & CEO of Davidson Environmental, decided to explore an area of waste management that would be new to the Niagara Region- recycling organic materials through composting. Starting with a trailer and 12 totes at a flower shop, James has built a company that today employs over 30 Niagara region residents and runs 24 hours a day. Although we are a diverse company serving all the waste needs of businesses of varying sizes, we have kept our primary focus on food waste organics. Our service area encompasses the Regions of Niagara, Hamilton, Haldimand, Halton, Oxford, Brant, Norfolk, Waterloo, Wellington, Perth, Huron, Grey, Middlesex, Lambton, Chatem-Kent, and Essex. We are also able to service Toronto by using cooperative services with another organics company. We have 10 trucks, capable of servicing any waste disposal need your business may have. Today, Davidson Environmental is proud to offer a variety of cost-effective, clean, simple and environmentally responsible methods of disposing of the waste produced by your business in Southern and South Western Ontario.

Still Good? Best Before Vs. Expiration Dates Explained

Someone in Canada, right now as you read this, is throwing away a perfectly good food item because it has surpassed its best before date. Throwing out food prior to its expiration has negative affects on the environment and humankind alike, due to the heavy agricultural use and excess greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Recycling Council of Ontario, Canadians throw out 6 million tonnes of food each year. Of that annual wasted food, 2.2 million tonnes is still considered edible, according to the National Zero Waste Council. This is largely due to the fact that consumers often mistake the ‘best before’ to be the same as the ‘expiration’ date.

To begin lets first break down the two terms. A ‘best before’ date is primarily a quality indicator stating that the food is best if consumed prior to the date listed, but that doesn’t mean that the food has gone bad. It just simply means it is past its ‘prime’, so to speak. You’ll find best before dates largely on dairy products, canned food & boxed/bagged food (such as crackers).  The ‘best before’ date is meant to guarantee certain properties, such as taste, aroma, freshness and even nutrients by that given date. Given this, the best way to tell if the food has in fact spoiled is through smell, taste and sight. Mold is a key indicator!

‘Expiration’ dates on the other hand are considered to be that of its namesake, an expiry date.  Thus, food with an expiration date should not be consumed after the specified date. The product is no longer safe to consume after the date, usually due to bacteria growth. You’ll regularly find ‘expiration’ or ‘use by’ dates on meat, fish & poultry products. Often, to extend these dates, consumers will freeze and then thaw food, which does increase the longevity of the expiration date significantly.

Throwing out food prematurely is one of the leading reasons for excessive food waste in Ontario and the globe. Not only is this not good for the environment due to excess water use & land use for agriculture but it is also simply just a waste of money. According to the Recycling Council of Ontario, the average household in Canada spends approximately $1700.00 on wasted food. That’s a lot of food (& money)!

Of course, food waste is a natural part of food consumption and at times cannot be avoided. The best solution for this is to ensure that you are disposing of food waste in the correct manner. This means ensuring your waste goes to an organics facility, like ours here at Davidson Environmental, for either composting or biogas (or both!). Food waste that goes into the landfill produces un-trappable methane gas, which when exposed to air is 25 times more harmful to the environment then carbon dioxide. Ensuring your wasted food or food scraps goes into the correct waste stream is vital to reducing your carbon footprint.

So the next time you go through your refrigerator to purge those ‘back of the fridge’ items, make sure you know the difference between expiration & best before dates. By curbing the amount of waste you throw out to begin with, the more you’re doing your part for the environment & for your wallet!