Grocery Store Changes

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years you have noticed the changes in your favourite grocery store.

Plastic vs Paper

Years ago our groceries were packed in paper bags or boxes. To save trees (the popular cause at the time) these tree-reliant products were replaced with the now banned plastic bags.

For a few years, before they were completely banned, we were forced to pay for the plastic bags.

grocery store

Reusable Cloth Bags, are They Sanitary?

These cloth bags are popular, I use them too, but the retired laboratory technologist in me cringes at the prospect of the bacteria their soft surfaces inevitably collect at a grocery store. Especially when plastic bags were not even available at checkouts for meat purchases. Yuk!

Not to mention the viruses. Did you notice that cashiers were not touching these bags or even permitting them on their conveyor belts during the pandemic?

I disinfect mine often but am willing to bet that many others don’t.

To protect my cloth bags, I also grab an extra couple of plastic bags from the produce department to wrap my meat purchases in.

Reusing Plastic Bags

Most households in my generation or older reuse(d) the plastic bags with a stash somewhere in their homes, garages, cottages etc. In fact, my hubby just joked that we will have to go back to Florida (where plastic bags are still used to package purchases at most stores) to replenish our supply.

We didn’t need rules or by-laws to tell us the advantages of reusing.

Plastic Containers

Is it my imagination or now that plastic bags have been banned, does everything appear to be packaged in plastic? From bulk items to fresh herbs to fruit.

Some of this plastic packaging is of the sturdy type that I assume would take longer to break down than the flimsy, hole-prone bags we used to pack our groceries in. All of a sudden my blue bin is full of these containers which means more recycling and less garbage at the curb. In turn, this should achieve the goal of less dumping into landfills. Right?

Are we too stuck on banning plastic straws to seek a proactive approach? If the world is so fixated on plastic spilling into our oceans, why not put research into finding an efficient way of disposing of it?

Littering is the Problem

Littering is the problem here. Banning plastic straws, bags or water bottles so they don’t wash up on our shores or litter our roadsides seems somewhat misguided.

Instead, should we not teach our children and grandchildren to be responsible and respectful of the environment by properly disposing of our garbage instead of littering?

Oops, this post was not intended to turn into (another) rant on landfills. Let’s get back to the one about the grocery store changes.

Self Checkouts

Admittedly, I belong to the less tech-savvy generation that prefers a human cashier to the increasingly popular self-checkout options. Especially for a large grocery order.

grocery store

I’m guessing those that approve of self checkouts do so for their convenience and speed.

I do too when I have just a few items. My impatient streak has been known to show up in these instances when I’m in a hurry and behind several overflowing carts escorted by those prepared to spend the day in the store.

What changes at the grocery store are you most annoyed with?

Garbage Incineration: What are we Waiting For?

garbage incineration

Are you for or against garbage incineration?  I am a huge proponent of the theory and practice, so encouraged to hear it is being discussed here in Ottawa.

It has been proven to be efficient and successful in many advanced countries around the world, including Switzerland, Norway, Belgium, France, Denmark, and the USA. Canadian cities with success in waste-to-energy include Durham-York and Brampton in Ontario and Burnaby in BC.

The DYEC safely processes 140,000 tonnes per year of residential garbage that remains after maximizing waste diversion programs – reducing, reusing, recycling and composting – in Durham and York Regions.

Durham York Energy Centre

Canada’s Lagging Behind

Why then, if so popular in these other countries, is (most of) Canada dragging their feet with only a pitiful small percent of our trash sent for garbage incineration? We (some of us) are very focused on being the leaders in everything else, why not garbage incineration?

As our nation’s capital city, Ottawa should be leading the way with this proactive and modern technology. The use of dumps or landfills should be relegated to the history books, as the old-fashioned, inefficient relics they are.

MordorIntelligence offers the details on where Canada is on the waste-to-energy movement of which garbage incineration is the best-known method although it has its pros and cons. The biggest disadvantage is the pollution, for which there appears to be a solution:

  • To reduce particulate and gas-phase emissions, incineration plant owners have adopted a series of process units to clean the flue gas stream, which has, in turn, led to a significant improvement in terms of environmental sustainability.
  • Gasification of waste produces fewer emissions per unit of generated power compared to both incineration and landfilling.
  • The wide availability of technology, combined with a change in technology, is expected to lead to the increasing adoption of thermal-based WTE technology 

Support for Garbage Incineration

I read in the Ottawa Lookout, a local newsletter, recently that a few of Ottawa’s councillors are proponents of garbage incinerators. The issue of Ottawa’s garbage dilemma was brought up at the city council due to the opposition to a proposed “bag & tag” policy. The problem with this policy is that it is simply a bandaid fix for the next decade or so until our landfills reach capacity:

Long-term planning is always a challenge in politics. The question is whether council does something about it now, or punts it down the road.

Ottawa Lookout

Ottawa Councillor David Brown expressed his support of garbage incineration in a recent newsletter, agreeing that the proposed bag & tag proposal is a bandaid fix, one that is very short-sighted. In an article in the Ottawa Citizen, Councillor Brown also discusses why he believes a waste-to-energy approach makes the most sense.

From another article in the Ottawa Citizen, I read the good news that, from a motion put forward by councillors Allan Hubley (Kanata) and David Brown (Rideau-Jock), the Council did vote to study garbage inceration, which is a big step in the right direction.

There was a good discussion around the Council table regarding the need to move forward on finding a better solution, one rooted in proven technology that is more responsible to taxpayers, the environment, and future residents. I am pleased to report that the motion was carried unanimously.

Councillor David Brown, Rideau-Jock

So now we wait. The ball is rolling though, let’s hope it catches more support. Read the information within the links above to learn the details behind garbage incineration. Our future depends on support from Ottawa residents.

The Cons: Cost and Pollution

Granted, the start-up cost involved in garbage incinerators is quite significant, but the advantages are also significant:

Senior officials with Varme Energy, a Canadian developer in waste-to-energy and bioenergy projects, outlined an Innisfail, Alberta project that will include a private investment of between 150 to $200 million for a new state-of-the-art plant on 13 acres of land …the completed plant would employ about 30 full-time jobs, including plant manager and power engineers. The construction and facility commission would take about 30 months and employ up to 125 workers. The competed facility would be a consistent source of municipal property tax revenues.

Western Investor

Varme’s facilities would be the first in Canada to both generate energy from waste, and to capture the excess carbon and store it underground, a process that’s been piloted in Norway, but has not yet been tested in Canada.

CBC News

Most investments in our future are expensive. I won’t even go into the astronomical amount of money we have tossed at solar and wind power initiatives.

A few other Ottawa councillors expressed concern about the pollution generated by incinerators. What about the pollution generated when disgruntled residents start tossing their garbage in the ditches if they have to limit the garbage put to the curb every two weeks? Don’t even get me started on that issue, I cannot believe in the hot summer months when maggots are feasting on garbage, we only get our trash picked up every two weeks.

I’m not suggesting pollution is not important but let’s look for a viable solution instead of voting for a bandaid fix. Surely there are new-and-improved, current waste-to-energy solutions out there that are less “dirty.” Whether we find a long-term, viable solution or start looking down the road, we should be thinking proactively.

Recycling and Garbage Incineration go Hand in Hand

No one is suggesting we cut back on our recycling efforts. In fact, according to successful garbage incineration depends on vegetation, cardboard, household waste (no chemicals), and paper. Even plastic can be incinerated according to, in fact, it burns the best. That’s great since our plastic use has doubled in the past five decades and is expected to double yet again within the next two decades! That’s a scary fact for everyone, regardless of whether you are on the climate change bandwagon or not.

Where do you stand on this important issue? Would you rather find a proactive solution or keep our heads buried in the sand or, in this case, in the garbage?

Erasing History, Why so Selective?

erasing history

I find it extremely annoying and disconcerting that people want to eradicate historic people and events. History is based on facts, some good and some not so good, but none that should be erased to make us feel better about ourselves. Hopefully, we have evolved enough to avoid repeating the same politically incorrect transgressions. Selectively erasing history should not be an option.

Canadians (some) Demanding all Traces of Sir John A MacDonald be Removed

Sir John A MacDonald has been on the literal hit list in Canada lately. Schools, buildings, streets, statues, bridges, and the like are being renamed because of the belief that his federal policies were suspect when he was our Prime Minister. As our very first Prime Minister, he was instrumental in our country’s development and deserves a place in our history.

I find this obsession to erase history frustrating and ridiculous. Where do we draw the line? Who decides who was bad, really bad, bad enough to wipe them out?

Erasing history
Sir John A. MacDonald, Wikipedia

What About O.J?

These feelings of disgust were re-awakened yesterday afternoon when I was watching football and O.J. Simpson’s name came up. Inducted into the football hall of fame for his prowess on the field, he is still idolized and celebrated often by commentators and fans.

I don’t know about you, but I was totally dismayed that O.J. literally got away with murder. Twice. Talk about a travesty of justice. Yes, he was convicted in a civil suit, awarding money to the families of his victims, and spent some time in the clinker, but still got away with murder in the criminal courts.

O.J. Simpson, Wikipedia

What’s the Difference?

The point of this rant? Why is there a difference between the way we are willing to acknowledge the historic actions or behaviour of Sir John A and O.J? Why does O.J. Simpson continue to be idolized and revered when Sir John A. MacDonald and other historic figures are getting toppled from our graces, shunned, with all traces of them discarded from our lives?

Life Lessons Instead of Erasing History

Learning from our mistakes should be considered valuable life lessons. We should be taught to move on and refrain (hopefully) from repeating the same mistakes. That doesn’t mean the lessons or mistakes didn’t happen and shouldn’t be acknowledged. Life lessons get chronicled in our brains, or, in some cases, our journals or diaries.

In Conclusion

It seems to me that we are offended by everything and everyone these days. If our ideologies are threatened (??) we demand all traces of the offender removed from society. If we can accept the accomplishments and talents of one man without judging him on his lifestyle, ethics, or morals, why can we not accept the valuable contributions of others?

I believe that history is in the past; we learn about people, places, and things and decide how to incorporate the good from the past into our futures. Every country in the world can dredge up unsavory actions of their leaders and heroes. It’s how the indiscretions are dealt with that should decide the success and health of the country moving forward.

Well, I feel (somewhat) better after this rant, but I would like to hear from others. Am I wrong? Or just easily offended.