Zero Waste Home
A few weeks ago my father in law forwarded an article about two women in Victoria, BC who were inspired by Bea Johnson to start a Zero Waste Home. Katelin Leblond and Tara Smith-Arnsdorf are two women (hey! I'm a woman) that Iive in Canada (I'm Canadian!) and have children (I have children!) that have become competitive about producing less waste. They saw Bea's youtube video, were inspired, were interviewed by CBC and have now inspired myself. If they, as women in Canada, with children can, then why can't I? Wow, what a chain response of inspiration! Regular ol' people inspiring each other to want and produce ... less? What a strange concept. We are so used to being bombarded by advertising and societal norms to want more, and strive for more, which ultimately produces...more. But hold the phone... here we have individuals striving to want and produce less? Now this is a new concept! This whole article and Bea's youtube video also got my family revved up to do something different and create some change in our world. We already live a fairly minimalist lifestyle but there is always room for improvement, especially when it comes to our garbage can.
Papa Sas and myself started to think - what is in our garbage? Our garbage can consisted of food packaging and food scraps. Our city doesn't do city wide composting, it is still in the pilot project and we don't have a backyard & garden so where are we going to compost?! ha! Excuses - where there is a will there is a way - more on that later. How could we produce so much garbage a week with packaging and food scraps, this had to change.
First things first was figuring out composting. Our kitchen does not have much storage which makes it hard to have lots of prepackaged food around so much of our food is cooked fresh daily. Cooking fresh produces lots of egg shells, coffee grinds, peels, etc. We were throwing this into our garbage or pushing it down through our garburator. We are totally guilty of once it was out of sight it was out of mind. Taxing our water system, and burying it in a landfill for 100's of years to never decompose... which it's suppose to do. Made us think, we are seriously messing with nature. So as crazy as this sounds... we have been hoarding our compost in our garage in a Rubbermaid container and weekly when we drive by the pilot project neighbourhood that has composting we ditch it. Even though I think no one is looking, and the Sasquatch cubs are screaming "MAMA WHAT ARE YOU DOING" from the car i'm sure there is that neighbourhood watch person, who is always looking out their window, rolling their eyes at me thinking I'm crazy but who cares! We are seriously reducing our waste! Sometimes being crazy is great.
The next problem to tackle was our prepackaged food (pasta boxes, oatmeal, chocolate chip bags). We don't eat a lot of prepackaged food but our recycling bin was overflowing each week, as well as our garbage can. That's another thing - a lot of the time we think we are superheroes to recycle. Recycling has become the ultimate environmentalist thing to do but the first step is to refuse. We are still creating waste by recycling... we will dedicate another post to this. Sorry, sidetrack! Back to prepackaged food! So, how was my wee little family going to stop having to recycle and throw out so much? It was simple. Shop in bulk. I went to Superstore and scoped out the bulk section and not only is this going to help reduce our waste but it makes my shop so much faster. We eat tons of beans (which we were buying in cans), oatmeal, pasta, chocolate chips, zookies (good ol' superstore brand animal crackers that my children don't eat but some how they keep disappearing each week??) and all this food was right there in one area. Goodbye weaving through isle after isle to do my shop. So I'm minimizing that packaging but won't I be bringing home tons of plastic bags? That issue was quickly solved by purchasing some thin mesh bags. I spoke with Superstore and Community Foods and they were both more than happy to tare them (Papa Sas is adamant that I include the definition of tare in this post - an allowance made for the weight of the packaging in order to determine the net weight of goods.) so I wouldn't be paying for the extra weight of my bag. That being said, my first shop the cashier was like "you want me to do what, lady?" so I just gave her the code I wrote down on my phone for each item and paid an extra 15 grams per bag. It was the price I had to pay for my first zero waste shop, I was too nervous to press and was happy no one was complaining about my bags brought from home.
Two huge contributors to our waste were dealt with quite quickly and two big changes that weren't too hard to accommodate. I look forward to see what other changes we make as we tackle this new lifestyle and find what is sustainable for our family. I saw a friend post something that really struck a chord today so as you read this post, and reflect on your own life, mull this little beauty over "your opinions will not improve the world around you... but your actions just might".