The Possibility of Hamilton, Ontario by Jacqueline Milner


CFN – A recent visit with a friend in Hamilton, Ontario opened my eyes to “POSSIBILITY”.  The possibility of growing flowers and food on my own front yard.  Many front yard vegetable gardens were sighted on my stroll through an older neighborhood.  Think of the possibilities this offers.  The possibility of nutritious low cost food, sharing, community, not to mention the bio diverse environment this offers to our precious bees and butterflies.  Additionally the amazing possibility a comprehensive recycling program has of reducing one’s contribution to the local landfill site to a small bag of garbage every one or two weeks.  Think about it….how much garbage do you put to the curb each week?

Hamilton, a city of over 500,000 people has recycling and waste pickup services in place which make it very possible to reduce a family of four garbage production to a small bag per week.  With some forethought and careful buying habits I would guess eliminating one’s garbage destined to the local landfill site is POSSIBLE.  How incredible is that?  This is achievable because of the other recycling services they have in place to accommodate the many other materials which we accumulate with our day to day purchases and property choices.

I’m happy to use our recycling services in my community however there is refuse that we are left with on occasion which are deposited in the garbage because our municipality does not recycle them.  It is understandable that the small volume of certain materials accumulated or collected in a smaller community can make the cost of recycling that material prohibitive.

EarthMatters_08_08_13_LPM1083During my short visit I was excited to learn about offerings which I would love to see within my community.  Firstly the city issues a number of trash tags per year for each household.  This means that each household is entitled to put out a certain quantity of trash destined for the landfill site each year.  These tags are good only for the year in which they are issued.  Each household is allowed one trash can of garbage bag per week, without a tag.  Any additional garbage will require a tag.  This certainly encourages one to consider the benefits of recycling.  One can put out any item that is on the list for recycling in the appropriate container or packaging/bundling requested.  In addition to the usual suspects you would expect to find in a recycling bin, Hamilton also recycles Styrofoam.  I was absolutely ecstatic to discover this.  Seems like every time some new appliance is purchased one can expect the same volume of such packing material.

The City also has a green box program for food scraps and paper food items which are composted for reuse.  The City will also pick up any/all of your yard when it is produced, any time of the year, and offers large appliance pickup all year round by appointment.  Community recycling centers are also open each week day so that people can drop off items that are not collected during their normal garbage pick-up day.  Items considered hazardous waste such as compact fluorescent bulbs, paint, batteries, needles etc.  This service is for waste produced at one’s home.  Businesses must use a contracted waste disposal company.

Hamilton also has Master Recyclers and community partners who will visit your school or event and are available to discuss how you can make your home, organization or business lives earth friendly and sustainable.  The City also has a gold box program.  Gold recycle boxes are awarded to households that embrace the recycling initiatives that the city as put forward for the benefit of the community.  You can find out more about the City’s recycling programs here.

This writer is sending out Love & Appreciation to Hamilton for supporting these wonderful earth friendly initiatives.  Thank you!

Your commentary is always welcome and appreciated below or to



  1. I love this idea. Poor folks could walk by and ask for healthy food and new friendships could be born..

  2. Jacqueline I didn’t read your entire article just yet but just spotted about growing food in the front yard. It is ok for flowers and grass but if you go as far as growing food in the front yard you will be fined and have the cops at your door and having to rip out all of this. There were people in Québec that did this and guess what happened. I also saw about this happening in the US. You can grow flowers and shrubs in your front lawn but not food. I just wanted to caution you about that. Growing food is to be done in your back yard and in containers in the back yard but not the front yard. I don’t want to see you in trouble. I sure love your articles.

  3. I made an error. I use the bags that are made from recycled plastic bottles for a lot of my groceries and I use the plastic bags from the stores for groceries for our garbage. We do not have much garbage like what a lot of people use. I say to everyone recycle.

    If people have old towels and old T-shirts and old sheets you can use them to make bath mats, and other floor mats by purchasing the canvas made for rug hooking and you tie the piece in knots. I got that idea from by a lady whose surname is Kaufman. You can also bring old clothes to second hand stores like Thrift Stores or Value Village.

    I am a quilter and I use a combination of our old clothes as well as new material but I do not buy the good expensive stuff to make quilts. I hand quilt and hand piece and hand tie. I am busy making lots of this kind of stuff. Nothing goes to waste. Any buttons, etc. are kept.

  4. If people lived more frugally we would all be well off. Live a healthy lifestyle. You are lucky in a small place where it is quiet and have some land. We are going crazy with the noise. I may have to close the window and put the fan on – this is outrageious. That is what I am going to do just now.

  5. Jules a valid point, what one is able to grow on one’s front yard changes from city to city and from municipality to municipality so it is wise to check with the guidelines of your municipality what one is allowed to plant. If not allowed, perhaps it is time to encourage your local municipal council to make changes to support this worthwhile effort for those who wish to pursue it. Container gardening is also a option. Hamilton is obviously more forward thinking than many. All the front gardens I came across had eye appeal. Some also had pear and apple trees.

  6. Jacqueline yes it depends on the municipality and also the kind of neighborhood that you live in as well. I love pear trees and apple trees and had them in my back yard in Cornwall. A neighbor in a single home below has a couple of pear trees in his back yard and boy do I get hungry looking at the pears in the trees. The healthiest and best is to have one’s own garden and I see many who make them and it sure helps with the high grocery bills and eating something fresh instead of something grown far away and picked while not ripe and no taste at all. One man in Cornwall told my husband and I that the only time he eats tomatoes is when he grows his own. People can make their own tomato sauce by grinding the tomatoes in a food processor or blender for spaghetti, etc. and just add spices to it.

    Some areas of the city would object to people having a garden in the front yard and I prefer it in the back yard away from people stealing your hard work.

    Hamilton is a big city like Ottawa and people don’t know one another – it is very rare when they do and people are not looking at what their neighbors have or don’t have and are not the Gladys Cravits type of people. In small towns it is the opposite. Gardening is the best and healthiest way to live. Next year I will put in my tomatoes and herbs which we love so much.

  7. Jacqueline Toronto is looking into making their garbage into electricity just like what Seattle Washington is already doing since years and this is a good thing if this can take off in Cornwall and Ottawa, etc. Putting garbage in the landfills is adding poison to the atmosphere but when you can take garbage and turn it into other useful things then this is the way to go.

    Paint and needles, etc. should be disposed of in another way. Trees can be ground into bark for trees and plants and use on paths.

    People should not throw out old bath towels since they can be made into bath rugs and there is information on on how to do just this along with T-shirts etc. Quilts can be made as well from cottons as well as other items.

    Next year I will be putting in another garden on our balcony here in Ottawa. We are completely surrounded where people from the streets cannot see and of course we are way up high. Gardening is the best and healthiest thing to do. Your friend’s garden sure is beautiful.

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