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Updated: Jan 25, 2022

Canadian society is one of the most consumerist in the world. Have you ever wondered where so much garbage is going? Where do all those long disposable coffee cups that are seen in the movies end up? We have.

Garbage container
Rubbish by Nathan Copley

We, the architects of FL Translations and Teepeeca, live most of our lives in a country with very low levels of consumerism and even in these conditions, the garbage is piled up in the corners. Sometimes it covers large urban spaces such as parks and sterile sites. Rivers, dams and beautiful white-sand beaches don't escape the disaster either. And thus, unfortunately, many people identify their first olfactory memory of our wonderful capital city with the unmistakable smell of garbage.

In our path as translators and interpreters, we had the opportunity to work in one of the largest landfills in our country. Our mission was to serve as interpreters during negotiations with delegations from first world countries that brought their proposals on waste management and treatment. As it is usual in the life of each translator and interpreter, we acquired invaluable knowledge during those working hours. It turns out that we learnt that organic waste should not be mixed with inorganic. The first, in its decomposition process, generates methane gas, which is highly flammable and can cause large fires that, when in contact with plastic waste and other substances, can emit fumes and gases harmful to humans and the environment as well.

We learned that the problem was not precisely the lack of resources or the absence of qualified personnel to ensure that the city was kept clean and that the garbage was collected and transported to landfills periodically. None of this is necessary in order to take care of a country’s environment. The basis for guaranteeing the care and protection of the environment is a civil society educated and aware of the need to fight against climate change for the sake of all.

One of our first surprises in Canada was to discover that, despite the wide consumption of goods, despite so many paper bags and so many plastic bottles, the garbage was as elusive as the sun can be at the end of the year north of Canada. Many weeks passed before we could see the first cans of coke lying on the ground.

When we arrived in Toronto, we stayed for the first two weeks with a couple of good friends who helped us take our first steps in this country. With them, we learned to classify garbage inside the house.

In all Canadian homes there are three types of garbage containers: blue for recyclables, green for organic waste, and black for the rest of the garbage that is not recycled or decomposed. My friends had a very practical system for collecting organic waste: they used a small container for leftover food that at the end, of the day they deposited in the container designated for this purpose that they kept refrigerated. Once that container was filled, then they deposited the content in a bag and threw it through the chute of the building trash. They also had a deposit for recyclable garbage. In general, products that are recyclable have the symbol in the description of the packaging, so it is very easy to identify them, although in the video we explain other peculiarities that we learned in the ecological event we visited a few weeks ago, organized by Live Green Toronto. Another interesting aspect for us was the fact that the toilet paper was deposited directly in the toilet. The rest of the bathroom trash goes in the black container.

Each neighbourhood in Toronto has its own garbage collection program, in ours, it is held every Thursday, although this program is also subject to the payment plan that the user may contract. In general, for the multi-family buildings, the weekly collection plan is contracted, but the businesses associated with the food industry generally contract a collection plan with several weekly shifts.

A few days after arriving in the country we began to explore Toronto and discovered that something we had only seen in the movies was real: the streets were full of furniture and household appliances, many in excellent condition, that the residents of the city threw away. It is totally possible to furnish a house with the furniture and equipment that others abandon. Every week a truck passes collecting all this furniture that people leave on the sidewalks of their homes. The best quality items are taken to special stores for second-hand sales or for donations, and the others are discarded.

In the second-hand stores in Toronto, such as Salvation Army or Value Village, it is very common to find dining sets, beds, mattresses, televisions and other household appliances that are in perfect condition but were disposed of by a family who decided to buy a more updated device. In these stores, we can also find a lot of good quality clothes at very low prices, because Toronto residents not only use the donation deposits shown in the video, many prefer to go to these stores and deliver their donations there directly.

We will definitely retake this topic in future publications because it has many angles that we do not show in just one video. This is a society that must reduce its consumerism levels for the sake of the entire planet, however, its measures to protect the environment and fight against climate change can be an example for all humanity. We are convinced that Canada must improve many aspects in terms of garbage, we do not ignore that there are events as inappropriate as those related to garbage containers sent to Asian countries. However, we believe that Canada is at the forefront of waste management and it is because of this, among other aspects, that it is such an attractive country for migrants from all over the world.

If you are one of them, from our teepee we wish you the best of luck in your immigration process and we encourage you to move forward despite the countless obstacles that may arise along the way.

Teepeeca recommends using the certified translation services of FL Translations, which is our translation agency, based in Calgary, Canada. FL Translations has extensive experience in translating legal documents for immigration purposes and has an excellent portfolio of certified translators in Canada, in more than 50 languages.

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