MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog

  • Launch of Shoreline Public-to-Public (P2P) Online Survey

    In previous blog posts we have highlighted some of the various ways that we can build resilience through robust adaptation, including options for enhanced shoreline protection (https://brocku.ca/unesco-chair/news-3/).

    During the MEOPAR project, we have also listened to you, as part of our interviews, focus groups, and informal chats. In addition to enhancing green spaces and using both natural and traditional shoreline protection, you helped us identify a number of other options, such as tax relief and subsidies for improvements, technical guidance, insurance coverage, and facilitating managed retreat.

    The team has compiled these options and created a survey to let you rank them in terms of your personal experience, preferences, and values. As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic does not allow us to have in-person meetings to continue our discussions; so, we are moving online with a few tools to further the understanding of opportunities and challenges for climate change adaptation in Great Lakes communities, such as Lincoln, and elsewhere. First, we will be rolling out an on-line survey. This on-line survey makes use of a public-to-public (P2P) platform decision support tool (DST) developed by the University of Waterloo’s Dr. Simone Philpot.

    We would love to get your input on what you consider appropriate risk-based options. If you are interested in participating in the survey, please contact us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca and we will provide you with what you need to know to take the survey.

    We will be coming to you soon with other opportunities to continue the discussion… virtually, of course!

    Thanks again for your interest in the MEOPAR project. Your input will help us co-create community solutions to address the issues of resilient shoreline protection.

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog

  • Springtime flooding is just around the corner

    A google maps satellite image representing the five Great Lakes across Ontario and how they are all connected by a variety of water systems.


     Basement flooding, often resulting from snowmelt, intense rainfall events, and poor drainage, is a concern many of us have as springtime approaches. Basements are inherently prone to flooding because they are the lowest level in the home and are constructed below-grade. Flooding of these spaces is even possible during dry seasons, when sudden, heavy rainfall occurs. This year’s winter in the Niagara Region has been unpredictable, with a lot of snow accumulation seen within the last few weeks. This means that flooding this spring is possible, depending on how quickly the weather warms up and melts the existing snow.

    We should always plan to reduce the related impacts from flooding. Having a wet spring and summer has the potential to change the dynamic of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, as well. The five Great Lakes — Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie and Ontario —  are the largest freshwater system in the world, spanning a total surface area of 245,013 square kilometers and flowing gradually into the St. Lawrence River.  This system moves a lot of water; even more so during the spring meltdown or a series of intense rainfalls like those that occurred in the spring of 2017. When excess water enters that system, flooding can then occur. It can either be localized or associated with a river or water system. An area of land that drains all of the streams and rainfall to a common outlet is known as a watershed. When too much water from smaller streams is drained into these interconnected lake systems, it leads to flooding of the riverine areas. In our region, small local watersheds all ultimately discharge into Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, or the Niagara River. The Great Lakes are considered a larger watershed consisting of all these smaller watersheds (including those of the other lakes). More snow around Lake Superior will gradually have an impact on our lakes here in Niagara.

    Flooding can cause water damage to homes (including the foundation) and can also result in the contamination of homes from sewage or mud. There are many steps you can take at home to prevent your basement from flooding, however. The INTACT centre guide on flood-proofing your home lists many strategies that can be useful to prevent damage to your home.

    Here are some examples of cost-effective flood protection measures:

    • Clean out storm drains, eavestroughs and water valves of debris to allow for clear drainage and flow.
    • Check for leaks in plumbing fixtures to prevent inside leaks.
    • Test your sump pump to ensure it is working properly and have a back-up sump pump system in place.
    • Install window well covers as well as water-resistant windows.
    • Extend downspouts and sump pipes two meters away from the home’s foundation to prevent the possibility of flooding.

    The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt and increase resilience to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith Caspell, Bradley May, Sam Gauthier & Jocelyn Baker) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also visit our website at brocku.ca/unesco-chair or email us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca

     

     

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog

  • Climate data and trends in the Greater Niagara Region

    A graph from climatedata.ca that illustrates the rising mean temperature from the years 1950-2100 under a high emissions scenario (RCP8.5). This increase in mean temperature can lead to negative impacts for agriculture, coastal communities and the overall health of individuals in the Niagara Region.


     In a previous blog post, we discussed how to take initiative towards adapting to and mitigating (reducing) the effects of climate change. However, before we can discuss specific methods of actually doing so, it is important to first understand the historical and predicted future climate trends in the Greater Niagara Region.

    A great tool for understanding climate trends across Canada is the publicly accessible website climatedata.ca. It provides climate data that helps individuals, communities and governments better understand historical climate data and make informed decisions for a more resilient Canada in the future. The website provides past, present and current climate trends for multiple locations in Canada. The data can be analysed on a broader provincial level or drilled down to look at specific municipalities or townships. Specific climate variables, such as temperature, precipitation, frost days and growing days, are also available. This information can be extremely valuable when trying to plan adaptation and mitigation measures in your community, for infrastructure, on farmland and even at your own personal residence. For example, frost days (number of days where the temperature drops below 0˚C) are particularly important in the Greater Niagara Region as the agricultural sector is a main economic driver for the area.

    The website generates graphs of climatic trends under three future greenhouse gas emission scenarios, also known as representative concentration pathways (RCPs). These RCPs were generated by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). RCPs represent the degree of warming of an area or location (translated in watts per square meter) under different scenarios. Those scenarios range from acting rapidly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to not acting at all and keeping a business-as-usual way of life. They include a low emission scenario (RCP2.6), moderate emissions scenario (RCP4.5) and high emissions scenario (RCP8.5). The RCP2.6 scenario leads to the least warming and reflects a future that uses immediate efforts to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. RCP4.5 models a future in which some mitigation of emissions prevents the extreme warming of the high emissions scenario of RCP8.5. Analysing the high emissions scenario (RCP8.5) on the website allows you to understand and prepare for the worst-case scenario when dealing with climatic trends. Unfortunately, due to trends and behaviours we are currently seeing in Canada, such as increases in population, pollution, and deforestation (among others), the RCP8.5 scenario may become the most probable one.

    We used the website to find data about the Niagara Region under a high emission scenario (RCP8.5). Using the website, the climatic trends reported for this area show that the annual average temperature in the region was between 8.4 ºC and 9 ºC between 1951 and 2020. Under a high emissions scenario, annual average temperatures are projected to be 10.9 ºC by 2050, 12.9 ºC by 2080, and will continue to rise above 14.3 ºC by 2100. Average annual precipitation in the region was historically 866 mm. Under a high emissions scenario, this is projected to be 7% higher by 2050, 10% higher by 2080 and by 2100.

    Rising temperatures and precipitation rates can have a significant impact on agriculture, coastal communities and the overall health of individuals in the Niagara Region. Over time, climate change has become more severe and in order to take initiative and make change, we must adapt and mitigate so we can slow or stop these trends from climbing.

    It is important to note that these climatic trends are projections, meaning they are just a model and may not be 100% accurate. However, they do provide guidance as to what the future may hold for our region. With a proper understanding of the potential climatic changes Niagara could be facing, it allows us to be more prepared and create more efficient adaptation and mitigation plans. In upcoming blogs, we will discuss strategies that can be used to manage these projected climatic changes and how we can initiate change.

    The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt and increase resilience to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith Caspell, Bradley May, Sam Gauthier & Jocelyn Baker) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also visit our website at brocku.ca/unesco-chair or email us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca

     

     

     

     

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog

  • Calls for action for climate change and how to take initiative

    Using public transportation or riding your bike can help reduce the impacts of climate change. At the Google offices in San Fransisco, for example, bicycles are provided to employees to use as transportation. Photo: Sam Gauthier.


    As our world warms, extreme weather events are projected to increase in frequency and/or intensity, both here in Canada and around the world. At the same time, sea levels are rising, prolonged droughts are putting pressure on food crops, and many animal and plant species are being threatened with extinction.

    It’s hard to imagine what we, as individuals, can do to resolve a problem of this scale and severity. However, there are actually many ways that we can take initiative and help mitigate the impacts of climate change: by assessing and altering our behaviour and the way we react to certain situations; through adaptation and making adjustments, decision making and transformation related to climate change problems; and through mitigation, which reduces the severity of climate change impacts.

    A great place to start is by participating in conversations about climate. Solving climate change requires us to work together, and there are many schools, businesses, youth groups and other volunteer organizations that are already taking action and working towards change for the future.  By getting involved with some of these groups, you can engage in ongoing conversations about climate that will help broaden your knowledge on climate topics. This will then allow you to initiative and engage in future conversations about climate, sharing what you have learned with others.

    Another behavioural change is to focus on how you travel. Using public transportation or riding your bike can help reduce the impacts of climate change by reducing gasoline consumption and the emissions that gas-powered vehicles produce. Altering other activities, including around your home, can also help you adapt to climate change by using energy more wisely, which in turn helps to reduce the impacts of climate change. These strategies include mitigating the effects of climate change and greenhouse gases (GHG’s) by installing solar panels or “wrapping” windows to make them more energy efficient.

    Taking initiative and making changes is both good for the environment and helps to ensure a safe and cost-effective home. To adapt properly, it is important to do some research about how climate change is most directly impacting your region, such as how the temperature is changing and the specific precipitation and windstorm events. A great website to see projected changes in our climate is climatedata.ca. We will be talking about this website in next week’s blog post.

    Climate change presents challenges for everyone and in order to reduce these risks we must adapt. Change begins with us, and there are many opportunities for individuals to adapt to these risks right in our own homes. In our upcoming blogs posts, we will discuss specific adaptation such as naturalizing your yard so it absorbs more water, retrofitting your home to better handle floods and using stronger, hail-resistant building materials.

    The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt and increase resilience to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith Caspell, Bradley May, Sam Gauthier & Jocelyn Baker) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also visit our website at brocku.ca/unesco-chair or email us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca

     

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog

  • Let’s Adapt to Climate Change — Adaptation Series Post 4 – Policy-based Adaptation (PbA)

    The role of the government is crucial for encouraging adaptation to climate change.


    Governments and the policies they draft have an important role to play in supporting the efforts that all sectors of society make to adapt to climate change.

    Policy-based Adaptation (PbA) involves the integration of climate change adaptation into various local, regional, provincial, and national policies for sustainable investments, actions and development. PbA becomes very important in the context of the agricultural sector because addressing climatic variability through policies can impact both food production and food security.

    Governments play a crucial role in encouraging adaptation to climate change through policies and incentives. They also offer services such as cost-benefit analysis of adaptation options, information and database management for climate data, extension activities, the undertaking of risk and vulnerability assessments and the provision of technical and financial support to monitor and contain pests, weeds and invasive species. Integration of the top-down and bottom-up policy approaches to climate change adaptation have been found to be the most effective for the agricultural sector.

    Local participation is key to the long-term success of any policy implementation, but there is also the need to consider all options and approaches in order to adapt to climate change. Adaption is context-specific and localized to fit to each unique situation, and doing so will ensure the mitigation of the negative impacts of climate change to the agricultural sector.

    The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt, and increase resilience, to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock, Bradley May, Pulkit Garg, Sam Gauthier & Jocelyn Baker) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also visit our website at brocku.ca/unesco-chair or email us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog

  • Let’s Adapt to Climate Change — Adaptation Series Post 3: Community-based Adaptation (CbA)

    Locally relevant research and partnerships with academic institutions, MEOPAR Focus Group Meetings involving a co-construction approach, and partnerships with organizations like the ALUS Foundation are relevant CbA strategies to cope with climate change.


    Over the last few weeks, the MEOPAR team has focused on ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) and technology-based adaptation (TbA) options for Niagara in its blog posts. Since the role of communities is crucial in enabling action, today’s blog post will shed some light on some of the various community-based adaptation (CbA) strategies that have been found to be promising for Niagara’s agricultural sector.

    CbA is an adaptation approach that involves the participation of everyone in a community in all the steps of the adaptation process, from planning to implementation, with or without the help of external resources (such as researchers). It is usually referred to as a co-construction approach. CbA is based on social learning, capacity building and public engagement to define solutions that are locally appropriate and may later be integrated into various policy structures.

    CbA strategies that use the co-construction approach have been applied to cereal (wheat, barley, oats and rye), oilseed (soybean, sunflower and canola) and vegetable (cabbage, tomato, potato, onions, peas) production in Canada. Rather than policy development, a much better coping capacity to extreme events can be developed with potentially greater social acceptability and implementation by applying a bottom-up co-construction approach. The MEOPAR-Town of Lincoln Climate Change Project is, in fact, based on this approach. This participatory approach can facilitate the inclusion of Niagara farmers in adaptation planning (especially to recurring droughts and floods).

    CbA strategies can also involve the establishment of local farmers’ organizations that develop strategies to cope with climate change. These organizations can also play a critical role in the uptake and implementation of the latest technological innovations in agriculture, such as irrigation, tillage and storage.

    Other larger organizations can also help to find solutions on a local level. For example, the ALUS (Alternative Land Use Services) Foundation has been actively involved in the domain of conservation agriculture (a type of EbA) in six Canadian provinces. The Foundation aims to protect ecological services that are important in farmlands and combines CbA with EbA, in order to help farmers become more resilient.

    Institutions like Brock University, AAFC Vineland and Niagara College can also play a considerable role through extension and research collaborative activities. Research on improved climate-resilient crop varieties, multi-cropping, technological advancements and market diversification for produce, for example, has been suggested as a means for Niagara’s agricultural sector to adapt to climate change. Researchers can also help in taking a co-construction approach.

    In summary, CbA strategies are relevant to Niagara’s agricultural sector and, combined with the other adaptation approaches, can help the sector better adapt to the impacts of climate change.

    The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt and increase resilience to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock, Bradley May, Pulkit Garg, Sam Gauthier & Jocelyn Baker) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also visit our website at brocku.ca/unesco-chair or email us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca

     

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog

  • Let’s Adapt to Climate Change — Adaptation Series Post 2: Technology-based Adaptation (TbA)

    Examples of TbA application – Artificial Intelligence


    Technology has the potential to help us adapt to climate change and Technology-based adaptation (TbA) strategies can support the Niagara’s agricultural sector. But what is TbA? TbA aims to maintain the resilience of various crop systems by using both traditionally available and innovative technologies. The following TbA strategies have been found most relevant to Niagara’s agricultural sector.

    Community-based weather monitoring systems provide local farmers with early forecasts and warnings of changing weather conditions so they can be better prepared to cope with weather uncertainties (e.g. in Niagara, Vine Alert is used to alert grape growers of impending frost or extreme low winter temperatures so they can turn on their wind machines and protect their crop). These systems have become popular because of their affordability and low capital and operational costs. Weather monitoring systems can be the first point of reference for farmers to accordingly shift their sowing and harvesting periods following changes in temperature and precipitation patterns. Considering Niagara’s geography and topography, decentralized community-based weather monitoring systems can be effective for improving adaptive responses.

    Integrated Nutrient Management (INM) is another very promising TbA that involves the balanced application of both natural amendments (manure, compostable wastes) and man-made fertilizers (mineral/synthetic fertilizers) to maintain healthy soils. INM can be successfully applied at both large and small-scale farms and leads to higher yields, better resistance against plant diseases, pests and droughts, especially if organic matter is added.

    Examples of TbA application – Drip Irrigation

    Drip irrigation allows for a controlled delivery of water to the root zone of plants through a system of pipes, valves, tubing and emitters. In the Niagara Region (especially in light of increasing droughts), this system has expanded, mainly in vineyards and in greenhouses.  It offers one of the most efficient water use mechanisms for agriculture with minimal waste. This may lead to increased yield and a reduction in plant diseases.  The best part is that drip irrigation can be used for the growth of both greenhouse and field crops — fruits and vegetables, in particular. Careful monitoring is required as it leads to algal growth and the build-up of sediments in pipes, which caused reduced efficiency and increases the chances of contamination. The capital cost of installation can also be prohibitive. But, with advances in research on the technology, its affordability is improving.

    Rainwater harvesting is also a very well-established TbA to reduce water shortage during droughts. Rainwater harvesting refers to the collection and transfer of rainwater from a roof to a storage tank (rain barrel or even a retention pond) for future utilization. In Ontario, retention ponds have been used for more than a century to reduce flooding and, around farmlands, to increase water availability for irrigation. One of the other positives about rainwater harvesting is that it is suitable for both greenhouse use and for field growers. On the other hand, rainwater harvesting systems have high initial capital costs and may also result in algal blooms if proper maintenance is not regularly undertaken.

    The newest TbA tactics involve the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning tactics to automate irrigation systems and make them more efficient. The application of AI makes irrigation systems very precise as the sensors collect real-time data on various parameters, like soil moisture, climate and lux (light) conditions on the farm and then release the required amount of water to the crops. Drones can also be used to precisely map the areas where irrigation or nutrients are most needed (also referred to as precision agriculture). Drones can assist with monitoring for pest outbreaks or localized flooding in some parts of the fields. With advanced sensors and research in the domain of software integration, drones are becoming increasingly popular in agriculture. AI systems offer several advantages for both greenhouse and outside growers. On the other hand, AI systems acquisition and maintenance can be expensive, and those systems require the use of highly skilled labour to operate.

    Conservation tillage can also be considered a TbA. It comprises a variety of soil preparation practices where new crops are planted on previous crop residues that have been purposely left behind on the field (about 1/3 of crop residue). Conservation tillage practices are popular because they minimize the energy required in land preparation for agriculture while improving the retention of water and organic matter that further enhances productivity. Therefore, it has been extensively applied in the growing of fruits, vegetables and grain, as well as in vineyards. Conservation tillage measures also improve an agricultural system’s coping capacity to drought and uneven rainfall by minimizing soil erosion and fuel and labour requirements. The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) has suggested conservation tillage as one of the Best Management Practices to reduce soil erosion and improve water quality in the Niagara Region.

    To sum up, an integration of traditional and innovative technologies can be promosing for the Niagara region and, when combined with any other approaches, can help enhance the resilience of our agricultural sector.

    The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt, and increase resilience, to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock, Bradley May, Pulkit Garg, Sam Gauthier and Jocelyn Baker) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also visit our website at brocku.ca/unesco-chair or email us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca

     

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog

  • Let’s Adapt to Climate Change — Adaptation Series Post 1: Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA)

    An example of EbA application at farms – Windbreaks


    Since it began, the MEOPAR project has focused on adaptation to climate change. In our next four blogs, we will examine different approaches to adaptation, which, as a reminder, refers to any adjustment or response to reduce the negative impacts of climate change.

    In this blog, we will introduce the concept of Ecosystem-based Adaptation, or EbA for short.

    EbA encompasses the various measures that can help both the natural and human components of our ecosystems adapt to climate change. This is achieved by promoting biodiversity conversation, ecological restoration and sustainable resources management. These actions reduce vulnerability and support the development of adaptive capacity and resilience.

    The following EbA strategies have been found most relevant to Niagara’s agricultural sector:

    An example of Windbreaks used in the agricultural sector.

    Windbreaks: Planting windbreaks, or shelterbelts, is a common EbA practice that has been used by the agricultural sector (especially in Europe) for a very long time. It involves planting shrubs and trees, which can be a mix of deciduous or evergreen (single row or multi-row) crops. Windbreaks are effective as an EbA strategy against strong winds, soil erosion and snow accumulation (through the use of a living snow fence) as they obstruct and alter wind flow patterns resulting in reduced wind speeds. For Niagara, windbreaks can be useful for protecting perennial fruit crops as well as annual crops. It is important to note that windbreaks may involve capital investment and increase maintenance costs, and that the placement of them must be selected carefully in order to avoid competition for nutrients with crops.

    Integrated Pest Management (IPM): IPM involves a series of steps that includes the preparation of soil and crop planting, trapping of pests, monitoring and inspection, designing of cultural, biological and chemical controls, and record-keeping that minimizes overall economic, health and environmental risks. IPM also includes the use of pesticides, but only when there is a pest outbreak. In Ontario, IPM has been used extensively for apples (to manage black rots, blister spots, scabs, borers, moth), raspberries (to manage spur blight, cane blight, orange rust), grapes (to control parasitic nematodes), as well as most greenhouse crops. The application of IPM can help maintain ecosystem health and decrease pesticide use as well as the probability of the development of pesticide-resistant insects. In the Niagara region, institutions like Brock University, Niagara College and Niagara Orchard and Vineyard Corporation are actively involved with farmers for IPM research.

    Miscellaneous measures: Various other EbA measures have also been identified for Niagara’s agricultural system. For example, intercropping (mixed, row, strip, relay), and crop diversification, with alternate rows or plots of different crops species or varieties, can reduce pre/post-harvest losses and improve resilience to the impacts of climate change (such as higher annual rainfall, average temperatures, and droughts). Other successful EbA techniques include tile drainage, cover cropping (e.g., legumes, white clover), and drought-resistant crops (pearl millets, sorghum) for improved drought resilience and profitability. These techniques are relevant to both field (e.g., soybean and corn) and greenhouse crops. Restoring a pasture into a tallgrass prairie (a natural system originally present in the Niagara) can also help provide fodder to animals during droughts.

    EbA is based on a participatory, integrated and inclusive approach to climate change adaptation. It has the potential to reduce the vulnerability of Niagara’s agricultural system to climate change, and to contribute to the development of a more resilient farming community.

    The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt, and increase resilience, to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith Caspell, Bradley May, Pulkit Garg, Sam Gauthier & Jocelyn Baker) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also visit our website at brocku.ca/unesco-chair or email us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca

     

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog

  • Shifting away from black bin use: Simple lifestyle changes to reduce your household waste

    Do you ever wonder what happens to your waste once it is picked up from your bins? Asking ourselves this on a regular basis is an important part of understanding how our actions are part of a complex problem that municipalities are working to resolve. Last week, we discussed the benefits of the new waste collection schedule for the Niagara Region. These benefits include the reduction of Green House Gases (GHG) as well as a decrease in both the amount of pollutants that leach into the environment and the amount of land required to bury our garbage. But how does this translate to action, and how can we make this shift to reduce our black bin (or garbage bin) use easier?

    As humans, we are social beings and are influenced by the actions of others. Our neighbours’ habits can impact our own, often without us even realizing it. If you see that your neighbours are shovelling their sidewalk when it snows, you are more likely to want to get out and shovel yours. The same goes for recycling and composting­ — if you believe your neighbours regularly recycle, you are more likely to do so yourself. Convenience and over-consumption are among of the biggest barriers to overcoming waste challenges. It is easy to not think about your waste because in a week or two, it will be off your property. The negative impacts of improper waste management extend beyond your curb, however. Although your waste might be out of sight and out of mind after collection day, the impacts of that waste extend beyond the local level, having global implications that continue long after it has been emptied from your bins.

    One way to begin changing your habits is to challenge yourself to use your recycling and compostable bins more frequently. The best way to do this is by tracking what you put in the garbage each day. After trying it out for a week, you may catch yourself putting waste in the wrong place!

    Here are some tips for helping reduce the waste in your black bin or bag:

    • Buy items in bulk (some stores may not allow you to bring your own containers during the pandemic, but typically, you can bring a reusable container)
    • Re-use your plastic bags, or better yet, use containers or re-usable beeswax wraps (see our creative kitchen blog post)
    • Remind yourself to choose the alternative with less packaging while shopping (buying fresh fruits and vegetables that don’t come in plastic wrap, for example)
    • Tape a reminder near your garbage can that will prompt you to think about whether your item truly belongs in the trash, or if it could be recycled or composted, instead
    • Educate yourself and your family members by using the ‘Where does it go?’ tool on the Niagara Region’s website. You simply type in any item that you you no longer want (from pizza boxes to empty laundry detergent jugs) and it will tell you which bin it goes in
    • Only buy what you truly need

    If you are a new homeowner or renter, the Region provides you with free containers for your waste, recycling, and compost! If you have been living in your dwelling for more than a year, you can still purchase containers or use other acceptable alternatives. Having a bin for each of the waste streams will set yourself up for success.

    Ontario’s zero waste goals will require collective efforts from everyone across the province. These goals include a 50 per cent waste diversion rate (that is, non-garbage material into green, blue or grey bins instead of black bins) by 2030 and a 80 per cent diversion rate by 2050. The Niagara Region can be a leader in this effort—starting with you and the actions you take in your home. When we take on more responsibility for our consumption and waste practices, we are doing our part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while making our communities more sustainable for us all.

    The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt, and increase resilience, to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock-Caspell, Bradley May, Pulkit Garg, Sam Gauthier & Jocelyn Baker) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also email us at meopar-lincoln@brocku.ca

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog

  • Changes in Niagara garbage collection schedule: a great step towards a zero-waste future

    Waste management continues to be a major challenge across the globe, with improper waste disposal resulting in high levels of pollution. In order to tackle this global issue, it is important that communities, and in fact all residents, rethink their waste management strategies. In the Niagara Region, an October 2019 waste management services report analyzed the contents of the average Niagara resident’s weekly garbage disposal and found that compost and recycle programs were being underutilized by residents. Only 48 per cent of households were found to be using the Green Bin (compost) program and, on average, 64 per cent of what Niagara residents placed in the garbage could have been recycled or composted. That means that only 36 per cent of the typical curbside garbage in the region was actually landfill garbage: 50 per cent was found to be compostable organic material (such as food leftovers) and 14 per cent was recyclable material.

    In response, the Niagara Region has made improvements to its waste management collection with the goal of increasing resident use of green bins for organics composting and encouraging the proper recycling of plastic, glass and cardboard products. As of October 19, 2020, the collection schedule changed to bi-weekly garbage pick-up, with continued weekly pick-up of recycling (blue & grey bins) and organic compost waste (green bin). Residents are now able to put out two containers of garbage on their scheduled pick-up week, and purchase additional tags if needed. This means that residents can still put out the same amount of garbage, they just have to wait two weeks to do so. The region hopes this will encourage individuals to use their green bins properly and help work toward it’s goal of diverting 65 per cent of waste from landfills. This can only be achieved, however, if we all put in an effort to rethink how we deal with our waste management.

    This change in the collection schedule has many benefits for the region, the first extending the lifespan of the landfill site. It also helps fight climate change Reducing the amount of waste going to landfills also reduces the amount of greenhouse gases (methane) that are released into the atmosphere. Less waste in the landfills also helps prevent the leaching of harmful chemicals, from plastics and other chemicals, into the environment. Proper recycling can also help in the reduction of greenhouse house gases through a reduction in energy consumption. Using recycled materials to make new products reduces the need for new materials. In turn, this avoids the greenhouse gas emissions that would have result from creating those new materials. This relates back to the idea of a circular economy, where we use products, services and resources for as long as possible and then recover and regenerate them at the end of their service life.

    Reducing the frequency in garbage pick-up also results in a reduction of the number of garbage trucks on the road. This, in turn, also mean a reduction in harmful emissions contributing to climate change. As well as the environmental benefits, having fewer wate collection trucks on the road also benefits the community by reducing traffic and lowering the financial costs for expenses like fuel and vehicle maintenance. Garbage trucks and other heavy vehicles can also cause significant damage to roads over time (such as the creation of potholes), and having less trucks on the road could potentially lower road maintenance costs in the region, too.

    If you are concerned about this new schedule and and its impact on your household waste disposal, there are many ways that you can reduce the volume of your waste and work towards proper waste disposal. Rethinking how you shop is a great place to start; you can look for products that contain less waste or buy in bulk. Shifting your mindset to think more about your waste habits and educating yourself on transforming your current habits into more sustainable ones will also help to ease the transition. Stay tuned for future blog posts where we will be discussing more on proper waste management and how we can work on improving our waste habits. It is important to note that there will also be province-wide changes to the recycling system coming in a few years and that the MEOPAR team will also discuss those changes and their implications in future blog posts.

    Categories: MEOPAR-Lincoln Blog