Matt Wolsfeld.
Matt Wolsfeld.

Going, going, green

If people do not start living more sustainably soon, Matt Wolsfeld is worried that Saskatoon may find itself in a waste management crisis.

As community engagement co-ordinator with the U of S Office of Sustainability, Wolsfeld is helping to encourage the reuse and reduction of materials at the university that might otherwise be tossed in the trash.

"On the wide end of the spectrum, within 50 years the (city) landfill will probably be full. At that point, we have to start looking at where we create another one and how we create our waste in the future," he said. "From a practical perspective, we have to address the waste issue. It's been creeping up on us, and now it's at a point where we have to address that."

Wolsfeld is part of a team planning Green Give and Go, a two-day event designed as an opportunity for students moving out of residence to lessen their impact on the environment as they head home for the summer or find a new home off-campus.

The big draw of Green Give and Go is what Wolsfeld refers to as the swap table, an open area that invites participants to bring in unwanted items so that they can be scooped up by anyone who might be interested.

"It's going to be a free swap table. Anybody can bring down anything that they're not using, that's old, that they were going to get rid of when they move out—just leave it at the table and anyone is free to take it," Wolsfeld said, adding that while the idea is targeted toward students, staff and faculty are welcome to take part as well.

In order to curb concern over the spread of bedbugs, which could spread like wildfire at these kinds of events if not properly managed, Wolsfeld said that bedding materials will not be accepted as part of the swap table. Other items that seem potentially problematic will be handled on a case-by-case basis by organizers.

Though Green Give and Go will also help with proper collection of recycling, landfill waste, electronics and hazardous waste—the latter of which Wolsfeld said will likely be mostly made up of household cleaners—the overall goal is to encourage sustainable living and highlight the benefits of reduction and reuse of household items.

"A lot of people end up putting the focus on recycling just because it's so easy to do, but it's not as effective as the reduce and reuse side of things. We want to start to make people aware of the amount of waste that's going out in the first place and the idea that maybe, instead of throwing something away, somebody else could use it," Wolsfeld said.

The entire idea goes back to planning for the future, Wolsfeld explained, and taking smaller strides toward sustainable living before those steps grow too massive to make.

"As we start to get to a point where people are more aware of climate change and general waste and consumption behaviours, we're starting to realize that the way we've operated for decades now has been pretty wasteful because we could afford to be," Wolsfeld said.

"Instead of waiting to the point where it's crunch time and we can't afford to waste anymore, I think it's time we just be a little conscious of that beforehand."

Green Give and Go takes place on April 28 at Voyageur Place Courtyard and April 29 at the College Quarter Promenade.

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