While witnessing the somewhat ridiculous consumerism that takes place during the week of the beloved “holiday” Valentine’s Day, I started to consider the amount of love I show for my planet (not having a special someone has its perks… I guess.)
Over the past few years, and especially when I started my job here at Generation Green I’ve made a conscious effort to reduce my environmental impact, reducing waste playing a huge role. But when I took a step back and truly examined some of the changes I’ve made, it didn’t blow me away and I came to the realization that I hadn’t changed that much at all. I needed to change, as it seemed silly that I believed in the overall health of this planet but wasn’t living out that value in every way I could.
Personally, to commit to a serious change in the way I live, I need to do somewhat extensive research and give a title to whatever it is I’m attempting to accomplish. What you require to be successful varies from person to person, but just stick to whatever you know works best for you. So like I usually do, I opened up the old browser and composed a list of things I needed to change. I wanted to share and remind readers of some simple, maybe obvious things that can seriously reduce the amount of trash an individual produces.
Reusable Shopping Bags! Again, some of these may be obvious but it could help to remind you to throw one of the million reusable shopping bags in your car or purse the next time you go shopping. Plastic bags have been around for the past 30 years or so, and are commonly used by an alarming amount of big chain grocery stores. It’s estimated worldwide that over 1 million new plastic bags are being used every minute. WHAT!! I know, I was in shock too. Although these plastic bags have the ability to be recycled, they rarely are, and the general low quality of plastic bags make it difficult to reuse them again and again. So create a routine, have some reusable bags in your car, briefcase, purse wherever you need to put them (put them back once you put your groceries away, this is a vital step to creating a routine for yourself) so that you always have the ability to say no to plastic bags.
Buy in Bulk! Save a mason jar that once held that delicious jam instead of recycling it (in fact save a few). Instead of buying packed goods, buy everything you can in bulk using that mason jar instead of using a plastic bag on that roll of far too tempting bags located at every corner of the bulk section. It might be weird at first, but sufficient planning ahead and repetition will soon make it all too familiar. Know what you need before you go to the store and pack jars as required. This will help stop impulsive buys that will in turn save you money!
Buy some delicious veggies and fruit in bulk without all that silly plastic wrap on peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. this will reduce the amount of times that convenient roll gets a spin. Invest in thin reusable produce bags in a few sizes and pack them with you for your trip to the grocery store. Reusable produce bags from B.B, Begonia can be found in our online store here, and we now also offer locally made from “Mother Earth Reusables” organic cotton and hemp produce bags. Both can be found in store at Generation Green!
Say “no” to that receipt! Hopefully the store your at has an option to select no without printing out. If not, try to mention it before you hand them cash, or right when you insert/swipe your card. It doesn’t always work out, but I’ve had some success. Ensure to sign up for online banking/ statements so you can view the transactions you have made without referencing a printed receipt. This often also eliminates paper statements being mailed to you address, saving a piece of paper or two and an envelope.
For clothing, another slightly obvious one. Upcycle, thrift or do whatever you need to do to help reduce the amount of new material clothing you purchase. This will save you loads of money and can leave with you some cool original pieces. If you can’t find absolutely everything you are looking for through thrifting, invest in a few high quality new pieces that you know you’ll be able to wear forever, be in style forever, and last forever! This can still help reduce the amount of new material products we as consumers purchase.
You could try to make your own, this is not always the easiest route to take. Look for premade products that are packaged in completely recyclable or compostable materials if you do want something new. If not, there’s plenty of amazing eco-friendly recipes for cosmetics that can be found online, Again, find what works best for you, often the simplest of recipes end up being the best!
Try composting! Even if you don’t have an appropriate outdoor space, there’s many of alternative ways to get rid of those food scraps or other compostable materials. The Green Action Centre here in Winnipeg has a fantastic video that shows just how easy it really is! Check it out here! Have a composting container on your counter or under your sink. (Pictured is the Scrap Happy collector from Full Circle, which you can find at Generation Green) I have found that this method often results in a not so pleasant odor and a few friendly fruit flies, but if this way works for you, awesome! I prefer to keep a container in my freezer, this essentially eliminates odors and keeps away any fruit flies or other friendly creatures. There’s also really effective ways to compost outdoors, and if you have mastered some of these techniques I’m maybe slightly jealous…but again, with a routine and time you can master anything!
Waste-less lunches! Whether you’re packing food for work, school or a mid-day second lunch pack it with reusable containers. Eliminate the need for plastic sandwich bags or plastic wrap by upcycling a small bag for snacks or use a handy-dandy mason jar. I find mason jars work for almost everything, and they help reduce the overall amount we need to consume as you can upcycle so many of them. However, sometimes it is nice to have a container for that delicious salad, so invest in a few quality stainless steel or glass lunch containers. Pick a size that you know you would be able to fit a few of your favorite food items in (I find that going with a larger size is often the most practical), they’ll last you forever and similar to mason jars they can be used for so many things. Pick up some cutlery at a thrift store that you can specifically keep in your lunch bag or even your purse for your lunch or any takeout food that may require a plastic utensil if you are not otherwise prepared. Finally, pack a reusable cloth napkin and a reusable water bottle to create a virtually waste-less meal!
Invite your friends or loved ones over for a home-made waste-less meal instead of going to a restaurant. This way, you can control exactly what waste you create, if any! Set reusable cloth napkins, bamboo plates and cutlery (regular cutlery and plates will do just fine, but I find it more fun to use super sustainable bamboo products instead). Clear your consciousness by using a bulk purchased castile soap for washing your dishes at the end of the night instead of using a regular dish soap. This is a much earth friendlier way of resentfully washing that huge pile of dishes you’re about to dig into.
There’s many other ways that can help reduce the overall waste you create, but it varies from person to person as everyone’s lifestyle is different. Take a close look at your lifestyle and change what you need
in order to live as close as you can to a completely waste-less life. Small changes can lead to big changes that will most likely inspire those around you to follow in your footsteps. If we all actively reduce both the amount we consume, and the amount of waste we create, we can all aid with the development of a sustainable and healthy planet!
Article written by Dallas Gillingham