The term sustainability has been thrown around for years. The first time I heard of it was in 2006 when my grade 8 teacher took us to watch An Inconvenient Truth. The silence in the theatre was deafening as almost fifty 14 year olds sat in terror and panic as we saw the large scale in which our world was dying around us.
Since then the word has grown and evolved. It stopped been a shocking word used to decribe a group of tree-huggers dedicated to saving the word. Instead it became a buzzword for companies to sell their products to eco-conscious consumers.
This washing machine is super sustainable. Look at all the energy it saves. Just ignore how much pollution the detergent causes. Or look at our more sustainable coffee cups. It’s made from recycled materials ya but we line them with plastic so they can’t BE recycled, oops!
However, this year the word sustainability seems to have become a big thing again as individuals and government start pushing for more sustainable and eco-friendly loving. If you live in Canada you know the Federal government recently annunced the single-use plastic ban by 202 and in the US California and New York have banned plastic bags in supermarkets. But what can you as an individual do to help. One of the ways is through the zero-waste or low-waste movement.
What is low waste
Low waste pretty self explanatory. Essentially it is the act of living while attempting to create at least physcial waste as possible.
For many this notion is pure fantasy. There is simply no way to not create waste. I used to suscribe to this model too until I realized it could be done. The zero-waste movement is growing and becoming a way of life for many millennials. While the simplistic aesthetic of keeping food in jars and carrying around hand-sewn produce bags will definitely attract some people for many others it is the idea that our one small contribution can help same the planet.
Despite what some naysayers may say, going low-waste does help. According to CRC Research, Canadians are some of the biggest waste producers. We produce up to 31 million tonnes of garbage a year. Which is about 2.7kg a day. Thats gross and extremly dentrimental to everything around us.
The low-waste/ Zero-waste movement attempts to offset this by very little waste and living by the three R’s- Reuse, Reduce, Recycle.
Going low waste with me!
First take stock of all the waste your household does produce. Look at what gets bought and what gets thrown away. Once you take a conscious look what you have it will shock you. When I first started it disturbed me just how much I bought and caressly threw away.
Every plastic bag I got with my groceries, every plastic wrapping to the food, every tag around the bread, every twisted piece of cotton that fell of my fast fashion. The list went on and on and on and on. And I felt disgusted.
How could I have allowed for such a travesty. When had I forgotten what I had learned in that theatre in 2006 and become so complacent in my own destruction?
Learning is fundamental in helping to form a solid foundation on how to lower you single use consumption and how to be healthier. Because the more waste you cut out the healtheir you will be. Seriously, as it has recently been found that humans unwittingly consume about 5 grams of plastic a week. That’s enough plastic to make a credit card. Add that all up and we eat about half a pound of plastic a year. Yeah, I feel sick too.
How to go low waste.
- Start by swopping plastic bags for your reusable one. Most stores now sell them and you will feel like a superstar everytime you say, “No bags thanks! I brought my own.”
- Ditch the straws and plastic cutlery. We have all seen the video of the turtle with the draw stuck in its nose. But that is just one sad case in a line of many. Most plastics end up in landfills and our oceans. Instead either don’t use a straw or opt to carry around a set of your own. They can be made from ethically sourced bamboo or stainless steel.
- Don’t use plastic at the grocery store. Invest in or make your own produce bags to put loose fruit and veg in. It also keeps them fresher as they are not getting sweaty in the bag.
- Invest in jars. Can you even be low waste if you don’t keep things in jars? Seriously though use any glass jars from sauces etc to keep rice, pasta and other produce with longer shelf lives.
- Upcycle. Got a t-shirt that got ripped, use it as a rag. Cracked bowls, use as planters. Find a new use for things rather than tossing it.
- Recycle. Did you know only 30% of what we throw away is recycled. I know in my household most things go in the garbage because I am to lazy to do otherwise. But I set aside a bin for each kind of plastic, paper and cardboard. We also have a compost bin so our food waste doesn’t go into the land fill.
- Find alternative oprions for your self-care. Many of our cleasning products and makeup go into the trash once used and make up a big percentage of our landfills. Replace single use cotton wipes with washable material ones, buy shampoo that come in recyclable or biodegradable bottles. Use bar soap again. There are many options so read up on some different ideas.
Of course low waste living can be a major hurdle and sometimes you will have little choice but to go with the high waste option but every little step counts. Every drop in the bucket eventually fills it up. So keep on living sustainably readers and I will do my best to do so too.