An Ontario Watershed Moment

by Jeremy Petrusma, Environmental Educator

Since both BC and Manitoba hubs have participated in creating their own watershed moments, we thought we in Ontario would add to the conversation! Let’s see what we discover by going through these questions together…

1. Where does the recycling in your area go to?

Hamilton’s recycling is picked up by waste collection trucks and brought to Waste Transfer Stations. There are ten different locations for these Waste Transfer locations listed on Hamilton’s website. Transfer stations accept different materials but when taken as a whole these facilities can recycle everything that is in our blue bins and much more! All of our waste is then sorted through a combination of human activity and automation with conveyors belts and balers. From there it gets sold to end market companies that are able to use the plastic, glass, paper and metal to make new materials.

What you can do:

  • Empty and rinse your containers before you put it in the recycling. Leftover foodstuff means contamination and less recyclable material.
  • Don’t recycle black single use plastic. This has not been recyclable in Hamilton since May 1, 2018. Ever wonder what else can or cannot be recycled? Check out Recycle Coach for tips and tricks!

2. How is organic waste managed in your area?

Hamilton has a green bin system that gets picked up weekly. This takes care of all your residential compost like food scraps and paper towels. Yard waste is not accepted in the green bin and must be put in a garbage bin or yard waste bag. The green bin material gets taken to the Central Composting Facility where it is shredded, and then stored in tunnels with special conditions until it becomes compost.

For more information:

If you are looking to get soil for your own garden take a look at the city of Hamilton’s resources on backyard composting.

If you want to learn more about the composting process take a look at this video.

3. What happens to wastewater in your area?

Wastewater is linked by pipes from each residence into the sewer system. We have two kinds of sewers systems in Hamilton, combined and separate. Separate sewer systems are newer, generally found on the mountain and don’t combine wastewater (water from showers, sink etc) with sewage (water from toilets). Combined sewer systems are older, found down the escarpment and put everything into one pipe. All the sewers run to the Wastewater Treatment Plant on Woodward Ave. The combined sewer system is detrimental when there are storms as all the rain that falls as wastewater mixes with the sewage. This increase in water needs to be stored as the wastewater treatment plant can’t process it all right away. The water is stored in Combined Sewer Overflow tanks (CSO’s). However, if the storm is too big then some water is released untreated into nearby surface waters.

Tips to lessen the strain on your treatment system:

  • Remember to put only toilet paper or human waste down the toilet. Wipes and related products can clog sewers!
  • Avoid using garburators/garbage disposal units. Composting is a better alternative and puts less strain on the wastewater treatment system.

4. Where does the electricity in your home come from?

This graph represents Ontario’s energy mix which is made up of approximately 96% non-carbon emitting sources. Check out this link for more info.

Energy saving tips:

Here is a list of energy saving tips from the Government of Ontario!

5. What direction do heavy rains or winter storms generally come from in your area?

Weather generally comes from the West or Southwest.

Lake effect snow is very common along the Great Lakes. This means that air above the Great Lakes picks up more moisture and dumps it once over land due to the temperature change. This results in cities and towns along the east coasts of great lakes to receive higher average snowfall than the surrounding regions.

6. What plant growing locally is known for treating fever, colds, or respiratory ailments?

Yarrow!

This plant can treat fever, common cold and induce sweating as well as a host of other applications.

7. What plants in your area are poisonous?

Poison Ivy, Wild Parsnip, Giant Hogweed, Water Hemlock.

Poisonous plant information:

The Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility keeps a detailed database of poisonous plants.

8. List three types of edible berries of your area.

  1. Wild grape (pictured)
  2. Blackberry
  3. Wild strawberry

9. Name five native plants that are common in your area.

  1. Silver Maple
  2. American Beech (pictured)
  3. New England Aster
  4. Black-Eyed Susan
  5. Common Burdock

Do you enjoy identifying plants?

Check out iNaturalist! You can contribute to biodiversity science and connect with naturalists online through their website or their apps on your iOS and Android devices!

If you haven’t taken the chance to get to know your place, consider embarking on this adventure. Whether through the twists and turns of the Internet, a gravel path, or your own backyard, this is the time to start something new!

Good Seed Sunday, our creation care initiative for churches, is also coming up April 25! May these questions be a fun way to explore your watershed and engage with creation in ways you never considered. Who knows? It could be a watershed moment for you! Share your stories using the hashtag #goodseedsunday!

If you haven’t taken the chance to get to know your place, consider embarking on this adventure.  May these questions be a fun way to explore your watershed and engage with creation in ways you never considered. Who knows? It could be a watershed moment for you!