Guest post by Sia Veeramani
Nu Grocery, Ottawa, ON
Did you know that an average Canadian produces over 700 kg of waste each year? Many of us recycle and compost, but most of our waste still ends up in landfills. This waste pollutes our rivers, lakes and oceans, deteriorates our soils and harms wildlife, while landfills contribute to climate change with a whopping 20% of Canada’s methane emissions.
While the idea of going zero waste may seem overwhelming, we can all without a doubt do our part in minimizing our waste and protecting the environment. A great place to start is within the comfort of your own home!
Say ‘No’ to junk mail
If your mailbox gets cluttered with unsolicited flyers, catalogs, brochures and advertisements to a point that it you a few minutes to sort your mail - maybe it’s time you change that. It can be as simple as putting a ‘No Junk Mail, please’ note or going online and cancelling your mail subscriptions. This will hugely reduce your paper waste!
Shop in bulk
Now that the paper waste is reduced, let’s tackle the packaging. Most of our household garbage comes from food packaging. While certain items are hard to find unpackaged, try these few tips:
Save leftovers and get your compost going
Did you know that we throw away nearly a quarter of the food we buy? Shopping in bulk will help you buy as little or as much as you need and minimize food waste. But take it a step further and plan your meals or save your leftovers for later (e.g. eat the next day or freeze to keep it longer)!
We only compost less than half of our food scraps and other organic waste - we often simply mix our kitchen waste with garbage destined to the landfill. Take a minute and look through the items that can go in the green bin in your city and you’ll be surprised how much you can compost along with your kitchen scraps (..even kitty litter!)
Living in a condo without a green bin? Talk to your neighbours and ask the condo management to do something about it (like these guys in Toronto)! Condos are where most of us live and thus where most of our waste comes from, so it’s time for them to join the green bin program. The City would even provide you with an in-unit kitchen container! Just ask. Meanwhile, try asking your neighbours across the street to use their green bin, while yours is being delivered.
Reuse is the new recycling!
Given that recycling is extremely energy intensive and recycling rates are fairly low , the best strategy is to minimize your waste in the first place. Reusing extends the life of products, minimizes the use of packaging and keeps our consumerism culture at bay.
The easiest way to minimize your daily waste is to Bring Your Own reusables.
Going out for coffee? BYO mug!
Getting a bubble tea or frappuccino? BYO straw!
Feeling like eating out? BYO tupperware & utensils or just sit in and enjoy!
Grocery shopping? Show off that cool reusable tote of yours!
Whatever it is, choose reusables instead of disposables. For some of you, it may be a second nature, for others - a new thing and you just need that little nudge to make it a habit!
And there you go - 5 easy switches that you can make to minimize your waste. Start with just one of them today!