Happy Earth Day! Every year I love to share different tips on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle, but since it’s the first year that I have a blog, I am so happy to be sharing these tips here!
With so much focus now on climate change and people really recognizing that this is a real problem, every little effort or change that each of us individually makes can make a huge impact collectively on our planet. International days where we collectively take action such as earth hour on March 30th as well as Earth day on April 22nd, shows the impact that we can have.
In my opinion, the most important and impactful thing that you can do is to reduce your waste!
Did you know that it has been calculated that the average Canadian produces more garbage per capita than any other country? We on average individually generate 2.7kg of garbage a day. Collectively, this adds up to about 31M tonnes of garbage a year, with only about 30% of that being recyclable material. Can you see now what I mean by each individual action we take can add to a greater impact collectively? Unfortunately, in this case, it’s for the worse.
More specifically, did you know that about 70% of our garbage comes from packaging? Packaging comes in all forms, shapes and sizes. When you buy ANYTHING at the store, it seems that you cannot get away with packaging. Whether you are buying wires that come in a plastic box, peanut butter that comes in plastic jars and even fruits and vegetables now wrapped in plastic. It is hard to get away from all of that packaging. You might thing that it’s ok because we can recycle and that’s it. But the problem is that most recycling plants have not adopted to be able to handle all of the new and different types of materials, shapes and even colors to be able to recycle properly. It has been found that 91% of plastic waste created isn’t recycled, and ends up in landfills and our oceans. You might think that reducing your consumption of plastic bags should be able to address this issue, but plastic bags only make up about 1% of the waste in landfills.
Not only do we have an issue with plastic waste, but there is also a huge issue with food waste. Did you know that 63% of the food Canadians throw away could have been eaten? That ends up being an average of throwing away $1100 a year per household! I don’t know about you, but I don’t have money to throw away. And that’s just what we’re doing individually. As a collective, 58% of all food produced in Canada is lost or wasted. That adds to a whopping $31 Billion.
Food waste not only is a waste of money and food (obviously), but is a waste on resources. Growing the food from seed takes a lot of water, energy and labour. It also uses up a lot of energy and gas to then transport this food across the world.
Now I’d like to share my 10 tips on how you can reduce your overall waste.
- Bring your own bags, say no to bags. Though plastic bags only account for 1% of waste, this will definitely help create good habits and serve as a reminder that there are alternatives to plastic bags and packaging in general.
- Bring your own jars when shopping in the bulk section. Not only do you save the hassle of having to transfer the goods from the bag to your jars later at home, but in most cases, switching to purchasing in bulk is actually cheaper than buying prepackaged goods
- Bring your own metal straws and travel mugs, especially when you are traveling, whether it be in car rides or even on the plane.
- Say no to plastic bottles and re-fill your own and always have fresh water on you at all times
- Left overs at a restaurant? Bring your own containers to pack the leftovers in. Leave a bag full of containers in your trunk so you always have them on hand for those last minute take out nights
- In the cafeteria at work: say no to disposable cutlery and bring your own or use the metal ones. This also works when eating in fast food restaurants or getting take out. I always carry these bamboo cutlery when I travel (https://www.to-goware.com/)
- Paper towel and Sponges – use clothe towels instead which can be used over and over again. For messier spills where you need that extra support, or check out these Kliin reusable paper towels, which can be used up to 200 times and biodegrade at the end of its lifetime (https://kliin.co/)
- Re-using items you would usually recycle such as tissue boxes to organize drawers or cans as planters
9. Make trade-offs: when you have no choice but to buy something with packaging, buy in larger format – usually cheaper and at least you’re reducing the waste by not having to buy multiples of the smaller format. Or if you have the choice to purchase in a glass reusable jar or paper over plastic.
10. Plan out our meals and meal prep – this will allow you to curate your grocery list based on what is on the menu for the week (or in my case, what’s on sale in the flyer, then my meal prep, then my shopping list) and save money by not going out to eat
11. Freeze leftovers! In my house, leftovers are frozen indefinitely (though 2 months is best). Freeze food you know you won’t use! Fruits and veggies can be frozen for up to 18 months. Meats can be frozen for up to a year
12. Finally, if you do have waste, composting is best! When food is sent to landfills, as it decomposes it creates methane (21 times more potent than carbon dioxide and is the leading cause of warming). If you have a home but your city doesn’t not accept compost, throw your plant based scraps in the backyard for the animals to eat (and if not, it will eventually decompose anyway). Live in an apartment/condo? See if you can start a compost system in your building through your city.
I hope these tips will inspire you to look for ways where you can reduce the waste you create. Whether it be in your home or even at the office, every step that we take individually will lead to a great impact collectively.
Now set forth and be savvy!