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 the recovery and growth of Canada’s economy. So let me clarify: I maybe go to the U.S. once or twice a year.  My wife and I (and often siblings-in-law) head down for a half day of fun, eat at a restaurant that can accommodate particular food allergies, and do a small bit of shopping.

When it comes to cross-border shopping, we don’t go crazy.  I prefer my books to have spellings like “neighbour” and “favour” and not “neighbor” and “favor.”  Sometimes though, there are just better deals to be had, even when you pay the necessary duties.

As soon as you cross the border, you quickly realize you aren’t in Canada any more.

Finding a recycling bin in a mall or store is practically impossible, and as for asking for the location of a recycling bin — it’s almost like you’re speaking another language.

Is that your cardboard box in the garbage?

Is that your cardboard box in the garbage?

But then there’s the infamous garbage cans outside of stores like Target.  You can tell when Canadians have been shopping at these stores as the garbage cans are filled with old shoes and cardboard boxes from the new shoes that have been purchased and are being worn home.  Why aren’t we donating these used items?  Especially in this regard, as Canadians, we seem to leave our environmental responsibilities at the border.

While Canadians often hold themselves up as great environmental champions, a recent study indicates that Canadians now produce more municipal (household) waste per capita than the U.S.!

So the next time you’re heading over to the U.S. for some shopping, give the environment some thought.  Do you actually need the item you’re buying, or are you simply caught up in a moment of “getting a good deal?”  Are you filling up store garbage cans with items that could be reused or recycled?

About John Watson

I'm a communicator, educator and project manager with a focus on environmental and public works issues. Previously, I was the Onboarding Director for ReCollect Systems, where I implemented digital communication products for municipalities and non-profits. For eight years, I was the Waste Diversion Educator Coordinator for Halton Region, where I implemented award winning communications and outreach programs.
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