How the U of T’s Trash Team is helping people change their garbage habits

'During the pandemic, we thought it would be a good time make some positive changes,' program co-ordinator says

Hannah De Frond, the International Trash Trap Network Coordinator of the UofT Trash Team. (Screenshot) 

Much has changed in the three years since the COVID-19 outbreak. Many people are ordering takeout food and ordering packages online …and waste at home is piling up.

Throughout the pandemic, the University of Toronto’s Trash Team has been running an online product called the Home Waste Audit to help people increase their “waste literacy” and watch their waste habits for four weeks.

“People usually don’t have much time to reflect their waste habits,” Hannah De Frond, the International Trash Trap Network co-ordinator of the U of T Trash Team, said in an interview.

“But during the pandemic, we thought it would be a good time make some positive changes.”

Worldwide municipal solid waste generation is expected to have increased by roughly 70 percent to 3.4 billion tonnes by 2050, according to Statista. However, less than 20 per cent of waste people produce is recycled each year, with huge quantities still sent to landfills.

Toronto produces 500 million tonnes of garbage a year and wants to keep 70 per cent of that out of landfills by 2026, according to the city.

Launched in the summer of 20202, the Home Waste Audit is a project designed to reduce household garbage. Over four weeks, participants audit their household waste by using datasheets made by the U of T Trash Team, complete a survey and increase their waste literacy.

Over the last two years, the program has hosted 49 participants, and many of them are making lasting changes to their waste habits. According to the 2020 report, after these four weeks of auditing, among those respondents, 60 per cent kept some of the positive changes and 40 per cent kept all the positive changes.

“Even now life is going back to normal, we expect people who took part in the program will keep their enthusiastic about developing their waste habit whether they are in Toronto, in Vancouver, or in the U.K.,” De Frond said.

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She said as long as people want to take part, the Trash Team will continue offering its home audit.

Victoria Song, a fourth-year student studying accounting at the University of Toronto, plans to take part next year.

Song, who lives with a friend near Scarborough Town Centre, says they often order in rather than cooking for themselves because of their packed schedules. Takeaway containers and package boxes are the main garbage they produce

“After my friends introduced this project to me, I realized that there are more things I could do in the future,” she said.

“I thought my waste habit is good because I followed the instructions to manage and dispose of the waste that I produced.”

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Posted: Feb 21 2022 10:22 pm
Filed under: COVID-19 News Science & Health