Author Archives: John Watson

About John Watson

I'm the Director of Customer Success for ReCollect Systems. We're a technology company that specializes in waste management apps that delight residents. Previously, I was the Waste Diversion Educator Coordinator for Halton Region, where I implemented award winning communications and outreach programs.

Playing for the environment this World Theatre Day

Live theatre is thriving in Halton! From presenting theatres to community theatre groups, and high school drama clubs to college programs, theatre practioners and audience members have so many options to be thrilled and entertained. Today, March 27 is World Theatre … Continue reading

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School lunch programs and the packaging waste they create

When I was in elementary school, we’d have hot dog days once every few months. Parents would get together and steam hot dogs in the staff room. The hot dogs came wrapped in a paper napkin, and we had a … Continue reading

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An ode to Nana’s couch

My grandmother recently passed away. She lived a very long life, filled with much love and adventure. In the past fifteen years or so, she moved from her large single-family home into a seniors’ retirement building, then twice more into … Continue reading

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LEGO – an opportunity to reuse

Let’s face it — everyone loves LEGO! Kids love it. Adults love it. Heck, I’m in my mid 30s, and I still get a new LEGO set each Christmas! From Ninjago to LEGO Friends, from the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre to the upcoming The … Continue reading

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Coffee discs and cups – what convenience means to waste management

Canadians love their coffee! According to one study, 65% of Canadians drink coffee daily, and 51% of coffee drinkers drink their coffee at home. Preparing your coffee at home is good for the environment because there’s no disposable cup that … Continue reading

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Recycling in the age of Hercules

I admit I’m a sucker for TV shows and movies that depict ancient Greece and Rome — Spartacus, I, Claudius, Rome, Troy, Immortals, Clash of the Titans, Gladiator — they’re right up my alley. This year, I’ll be lining up at the movies to … Continue reading

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Recycling in Downton Abbey

January 5, 2014 marks the return of Downton Abbey in North America, and I for one couldn’t be more excited. I came late to this television masterpiece, having binge-viewed the first three seasons over the past few weeks. Telling the story of … Continue reading

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A Christmas card conundrum

I admit it: I’m addicted to paper. Books, newspaper, writing paper, computer paper, flyers, brochures — I love it all. My love of paper is especially heightened during the holidays, as I love mailing (and receiving) Christmas cards. But this … Continue reading

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Can we ban plastic?

“Why don’t we ban plastic?” I’m asked this question regularly when delivering waste diversion workshops to schools, community groups and businesses. Plastic is seen as a big issue, from taking up space in our Blue Boxes, to causing worldwide situations … Continue reading

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School librarians promote reduce, reuse, recycle

Books have the power to educate, entertain and enthrall. They can cause personal reflection, a change of thought, and a call to action. In recognition of Waste Reduction Week in Canada and the need to protect our environment, teacher-librarians, library technicians and … Continue reading

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When you look at a can of cranberries, what do you see?

When you look at a can of cranberries, what do you see? Do you see a delicious side dish to your Thanksgiving turkey? Or do you also see the seeds that grew the cranberries? What about the farmers who planted, … Continue reading

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Municipalities work together and encourage you to “recycle more”

Traditionally, Blue Box recycling programs in Ontario have varied from municipality to municipality. That’s now starting to change, with many municipalities accepting the same sort of materials, especially when it comes to rigid plastic packaging. Representing nearly 7 million people, … Continue reading

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Movie Review: Trash Dance

Is waste collection an art? To help make the case, in 2009, Allison Orr of Forklift Danceworks embedded herself with the City of Austin‘s solid waste management department, learning about waste collection procedures, trucks and equipment, and befriending the workers. Using these … Continue reading

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Happy New Year! It’s back to school

Today, students, teachers, custodians and administrators of the Halton District School Board, Halton Catholic District School Board, Provincial Schools Branch, Conseil scolaire Viamonde, and Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud start a new school year. Halton Region has great partnerships with the publicly-funded … Continue reading

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Summer fades into autumn

As summer fades in autumn, I’m reminded how the change of season also changes my family’s waste management practices. Around the house, it’s time to locate our reusable lunch bag, thermos, containers and cutlery in preparation for packing waste-free lunches … Continue reading

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One of the most selfish acts in the world… illegal dumping

In my opinion, illegal dumping is one of the most selfish and self-centred acts anyone can commit. Think about it for a moment. A resident or a business feels it is okay to fill their personal or commercial vehicle with … Continue reading

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Travelogue: A Journey Through Eastern Canada

Recently, my wife, our dog and I headed out east for a driving vacation through Quebec, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. We stayed at private camp grounds, provincial parks, national parks and the odd hotel, and it gave me … Continue reading

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What’s the deal with “compostable” packaging?

Packaging is a huge business. Corporations spend millions of dollars annually to ensure their packaging choices are eye-catching, memorable, and easy to use — all in the effort to ensure consumers (you) buy their product. In recent years, many corporations … Continue reading

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World Population Day

World Population Day is recognized internationally on July 11. Coordinated by the United Nations Population Fund, World Population Day aims to educate about the challenges — and opportunities — associated with increased population on development, health and social attitudes. In … Continue reading

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Think.Eat.Save – World Environment Day 2013

While not as well-known as Earth Day in April, World Environment Day is celebrated on June 5.  Organized by the United Nations Environment Programme, World Environment Day raises awareness about the need for positive environmental action. The theme for the 2013 … Continue reading

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Why we can now recycle rigid plastic packaging in Halton

In April 2013, Halton Region added new rigid plastic packaging to its Blue Box, including clear plastic “clamshell” containers, black and clear plastic take-out containers, and single-serve plastic food containers. Here, Halton Region and its external partners explain how these … Continue reading

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Waste’s impact on biodiversity

Visit the Royal Ontario Museum and learn how biodiversity is being impacted by waste — and how we can minimize those environmental impacts.

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Posted in Disposal, Green Living, Household Hazardous Waste, Recycle, Reduce, Reuse, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Do you have too much recycling?

Whenever people learn where I work, they almost instantly begin to share with me how they manage their waste at their home. A lot of these people very proudly exclaim “I recycle so much!  Each week I put out five … Continue reading

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Halton’s garbage tag program

Learn all about Halton Region’s garbage tag program. Starting April 1, 2013, Halton residents may place 3 garbage bags/cans or less at the curb every other week.  More than 3 garbage bags/cans will require a “garbage tag,” up to a … Continue reading

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The issue of bottled water

I have always struggled with the issue of bottled water; my views of the issue change regularly.  I don’t have a definitive solution or answer to the issue, just a lot of ideas. There’s been a lot of research done recently … Continue reading

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I wish you enough

I enjoy a good internet meme like Texts from Hilary Clinton, Ikea Monkey and Kid President.  Recently I came across a Facebook post/story that’s been making the rounds called “I wish you enough.” Part of the story included the following “poem,” which really got … Continue reading

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Travelogue: Shuffle off to Buffalo

Canadian thrill seekers understand the adrenaline rush of wearing three newly purchased t-shirts, one on top of the other, as they cross the border from the U.S. back into Canada. “Nothing to declare.” I totally recognize that cross-border shopping discourages … Continue reading

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My new year’s resolutions – helping the environment more

I tend to consider September, with its emphasis on back-to-school new beginnings as more of a new year, however every January I do try to make some new year’s resolutions. Some studies indicate that by the end of January, a … Continue reading

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That’s a wrap – environmentally friendly alternatives to wrapping paper

Even though there’s no snow, “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”  The lights are up.  The decorations are out.  The gingerbread is in the oven.  The tree is aglow. If your house is like mine, presents are starting … Continue reading

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Fostering environmental literacy through Ontario EcoSchools

Students across Ontario are going green!  They’re collecting classroom recycling and organics, ensuring energy is being conserved, creating outdoor learning spaces, and learning about how their actions — no matter how small — can make a big difference for our … Continue reading

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Teaching children about recycling with fun activities

Young children at home or in daycare, pre-school or kindergarten, can develop a love of the environment and commitment to recycling and composting through fun activities. Many schools are implementing Ontario’s Full Day Kindergarten, a play-based education program.  Within this … Continue reading

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Managing solid waste caused by emergencies and disasters

9/11 and the World Trade Center. Hurricane Katrina. The earthquake in Haiti. The tsunami in Japan.  These disasters resulted in a horrifying loss of human life and the destruction of property. They also generated an unexpected amount of solid waste that needed … Continue reading

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Posted in Apartments, Garbage, Green Living, History, Household Hazardous Waste, Houses, Recycle, Reduce, Reuse | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Archaeology and how First Nations lived sustainably

In this video, I meet with Adam McDowell from Conservation Halton to learn how archaeology demonstrates how the First Nations lived sustainably.  We tour the amazing 15th century Iroquoian Village which has been reconstructed on its original site in Crawford Lake Conservation Area in Milton.

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Making your workouts good for the environment

I once heard someone say: “I never understand the people who get in their car, drive to a gym, and then run a treadmill for an hour, only to get back in their car and drive home.  Why not run … Continue reading

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A recap of the Canadian Network for Environmental Education & Communication’s spring 2012 conference

The Canadian Network for Environmental Education & Communication (EECOM) is Canada’s only national, bilingual, charitable network for environmental learning. Each year, EECOM partners with an environmental organization or agency in a different province to offer a conference bringing together environmental educators and communicators from … Continue reading

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Everyone creates waste, but how do you make waste management services accessible to all?

According to the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, “one in seven people in Ontario has a disability. Over the next 20 years, that number will rise as the population ages.” While every person generates waste that needs to be … Continue reading

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How early settlers and Victorians lived sustainably for the environment

In this 5 minute video, I visit Karla Corrigan from the Halton Region Museum, to learn about the sustainable practices of Halton’s early settlers and Victorians. We should be inspired by their efforts to practice the 3Rs — reduce, reuse, … Continue reading

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Visit the Library, Read a Book, Help the Environment

Earth Day is coming up on April 22.  What better way to prepare for this important celebration of our earth than by reading books about the environment.  One of the best places to access environmental books is your local library, where the “reuse” … Continue reading

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Posted in Apartments, Blue Box, Compost, Disposal, Education, Green Living, GreenCart, Houses, Recycle, Reduce, Reuse, Schools | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

3Rs Community Champion: Trillium Demonstration School reduces garbage to recycle more

Students at Trillium Demonstration School have taken the planet to heart — incorporating environmental initiatives into everything they do. “We only have one planet, so we need to minimize garbage to try to preserve it,” said a Trillium student. The … Continue reading

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How We Recycle Blue Box Materials

Ever wonder how Blue Box materials are recycled in Halton Region? In this 2 minute 33 second video, I interview Paulina Leung of Emterra Environmental, who explains how Blue Box recycling is processed.  Paulina also answers some common recycling questions.

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National Sweater Day

Thursday, February 9 is National Sweater Day.  A day to celebrate all those tacky and wacky sweaters you have hidden deep in your closet.  You know the ones I mean — sweaters with mooses and ducks and flowery appliques. But … Continue reading

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What’s Up Doc? Looking after medications environmentally

This weekend I opened up the medicine cabinet and was amazed at how many expired medications were in there. Why have I been holding on to them for so long? It was time for a major clean up. However, medications — … Continue reading

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3Rs Community Champion: White Oaks Futures Program Promotes Reuse

Did you know that plastic bags account for about 3% of the average household garbage bag in Halton? Concerned about the number of plastic bags being buried in the landfill, students in the Futures Program at White Oaks Secondary School, … Continue reading

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Garbage. Waste. What’s in a Name?

Many people use the words “waste” and “garbage” interchangeably. However, within the waste management profession, “waste” acutally means something different than “garbage.”  Waste is anything being thrown away, including Blue Box, GreenCart, Yard Waste, Household Hazardous Waste and Garbage materials.  Garbage … Continue reading

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Posted in Blue Box, Compost, Disposal, E-waste, Garbage, GreenCart, Household Hazardous Waste, Landfill, Recycle, Reduce, Reuse | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Abundance of Stuff

Television presents us with a spectrum of shows about families dealing with clutter.  You can watch shows about basic home organization (Neat; Home Made Simple), shows about extreme cleaning (How Clean is Your House?), shows about clutter (Clean Sweep; Enough Already) and the guiltiest-pleasure … Continue reading

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A Waste in Space

I was delivering recycling workshops at an elementary school recently and a boy in grade 3 asked me “why don’t we blast our garbage into space?” This was not the first time I’ve been asked this. I responded that it … Continue reading

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Welcome to HaltonRecycles!

Well the day has finally arrived!  Halton Region Waste Management Services is proud to launch our social media program, including this blog and our Twitter feed. When we began developing this new program, we were asked, “what will you blog or tweet … Continue reading

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