Monday, 31 October 2011

Recycling is everyone’s Responsibility

Conservation isn’t just about protecting the natural environment that we can see  around us – it’s also about the direct and indirect benefits of all environmental initiatives – like recycling.

That’s why, in 2006, HCA began a recycling initiative at our staff level.  We got rid of our individual garbage and recycle bins at our desks and created central waste stations throughout the offices. Posters were hung, showing staff and visitors how to properly sort and dispose of all types of waste. Using the waste stations has helped staff and visitors  learn proper recycling and green carting. Each week, we recycle and green cart 95% of our waste - we’re down to only one garbage bag a week for our whole main office! We’re proud to know that 95% of our waste is being reused. 

We’ve also expanded our recycling initiative to include a battery recycling depot for staff. Household batteries are one of the most frequent pieces of hazardous waste that make it into our landfills and then they leak into our soil and groundwater.  

We  try new initiatives  to keep staff thinking about recycling. We’ve held lunch and learns, made a question board for those hard to figure out recyclables and – we even tried litter less lunch days – asking everyone to try to bring a lunch without any packaging that would need to be thrown away.  Everyone had to get creative to find reusable containers around their kitchen. 

Our latest project is to try to sort all of the waste generated from some of our biggest events at our Conservation Areas.  Events and services that we provide, generate waste – but we can minimize the amount of material that gets wasted. We don’t want all of that waste to end up in the landfill –we’d like to do what we can to make sure that it can be reused.

Maybe you saw us in action this year. We set up central waste stations at the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic and the Christie Lake Antique Show. Trained volunteers at each station showed people which items went in each of the recycling bins, waste containers and green carts. We were able to sort a lot of our waste while helping people to learn about recycling and green carting.

What Can You Do?
As we are starting to provide recycling and green carting at our events and in our Conservation Areas, we need your help. Next time you’re at one of our facilities, look for recycling bins, and please take the time to think about what’s in your hands and make sure you put it in the proper bin.

Keep in mind that when you throw the wrong thing in the wrong bin it “contaminates” the whole bag so that bag can’t be sent for recycling or composting – it has to go in the garbage. Everything in that bag that could have been recycled or composed goes to waste.

Jaime Overy
Project Planner
Hamilton Conservation Authority

For more information on Recycling and Garbage Collection please refer to The City of Hamilton or your local municipality.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Enjoying the Fall Colours

I took the opportunity last week to get out and explore the Niagara Escarpment and the views of all the fall colours. I hiked with a group from Escarpment Views Magazine up at the Silver Creek Conservation Area in Georgetown on one warm and sunny afternoon, and spent a little time photographing my pals, the turkey vultures (I’m sure I’ll be talking more about them some other time), up at Mount Nemo Conservation Area in Burlington. It almost doesn’t matter where you go along the Escarpment; there always seem to be excellent views of fall colours and vistas. I find that some of my favourite areas to view fall colours, though, are right here in Hamilton.

The massive Carolinian forest in the Dundas Valley, which includes the Spencer Gorge, provides some of the best colours when the conditions are right. I often hike with either one of my daughters in the Valley. My younger daughter keeps up with me (sometimes it’s the other way around) on the many trails in the DVCA. On a side note, I do also hike with my older daughter, but hiking with her is much different. When I take off to grab a photo or some video, she likes to curl up under a tree and have a nap until I get back. Don’t worry, though. I know she’ll be all right. She’s 27. Sorry Sarah, but it’s too funny not to tell. Aside from the colours, we had great opportunities to see pileated woodpeckers, white-tailed deer, hawks and vultures and all sorts of creatures. One of our best days was a salamander hunt on the Headwaters trail. But I think it was overshadowed by our early morning Thanksgiving hike in the Spencer Gorge

The waterfalls and escarpment features are a big draw in that area, but what struck us most that day was the variety of experiences we had. On the hike from Tews Falls to the Dundas Peak, there were areas of forest that looked like it was spring. The leaves were green and the sun was reflecting down through the mists in the forest even though it was the middle of October. When we came out of the forest at the Peak, we waited for some shadows to pass and watched as the Gorge’s colours were revealed. It’s always a breathtaking sight. Our next experience was walking the trail at the bottom of the Gorge along the Spencer Creek. It was almost surreal with the sound of flowing water, the golden-coloured forest floor, and the walls of the Gorge stretching upwards around you.

So, while there are still some colours left on the trees, try to get out. The sights, the smells, the experiences of hiking at this time of year will be missed in a few weeks when the blahs of winter start to settle in. Feel free to share your stories with us here or on our Social Networks. We’re just getting started with our blog and hope to bring you some interesting perspectives from some guest bloggers about climate change, environmental issues, outdoor education, recreation, water and natural resources and fish and bugs and creatures and all sorts of stuff! Until then, good hiking!

Chris Hamilton
Community Relations Information Officer
Hamilton Conservation Authority