Getting to (NOT QUITE) Zero Waste
Something about garbage and how much I produce gets to me. I mean, how families become Zero Waste I really want to know.
I used to think that we were doing our part with one bag of garbage every week, composting a majority (which, as per a typical family, would account for over 50%, according to the Compost Council of Canada) of our waste; paper in the paper bin, plastics in the plastics bin, and cans, jars and bottles in the other bin, but still there’s a bag that ends up being full by the end of the week.
How do these families I read about produce only a mason container full in a year? Are they eating full meals or consist of a family of breatharians; do they work full time, or is being un-wasteful their full time job? Are they living in the ‘modern’ world or reverting back to the days of my grandparents?
I started with plastic, as an ex-marine bio on dive boats out of the Great Barrier Reef for 7 years, I am just as concerned about the 5.25 trillion bits of plastic in our oceans as the next guy. Have you heard of SocialPlastic®? Innovative company employing some of the poorest people in the world to collect plastic, recycle it into reusable bits and making the effort to sell it to large corporations instead of creating new plastic… how good is that? Why isn’t every large company that uses plastics involved in this company? Check out their website and you will see tweets and posts from global citizens asking large companies such as Coca Cola, Ikea, Seventh Generation, etc. to use these ethically-sourced plastics.
A big step to becoming Zero Waste is to reconsider in a broad scale about single-use items, such as straws (500 million straws a day used in USA alone), toothbrushes, razors, even staples. Headed straight from work to Nester’s to check out their great little ‘New Agey’ section, I found Radius toothbrushes with replaceable heads that snap-off of comfortable handles made out of recycled paper (bought one for myself for $7.95 but luckily it came with an extra replaceable head), one made out of recycled wood (for the hubby) and a really interesting one that was made out of money (I’d rather have the money but I digress). Add another two mini ones made out of recyclable plastic for the twinkies and I pat myself on the back, feeling one step closer to helping our oceans from plastic overload.
But I’m kidding myself. I need to do more. The momentum was urging me on, what else can I do? Searching out the answer, I turned to my friend, Mr. Google. First link leads to the lady who arguably started it all, Bea Johnson, whose motto is Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot (only in that order). Sorry hubby, no more Q-tips. Kids, no more single-serve juice boxes and no more batteries in your toys (win-win there). What about the kitchen? Too bad there is a dearth of bulk food in Whistler or Pemberton, but do I really want to start bringing in my pillow cases to carry loaves of bread?
Looking at tips online, I took stock:
- Buy my (non-skiing) clothes at Re-Use-It Centre or Random in Squamish, I’m a vintage sort of girl anyway, or take ripped items to Bogs Fabrics (those ladies are da bomb!)… check;
- use mason jars relentlessly… check;
- use cloth napkins and towels in the kitchen… check;
- use the Diva cup… check;
- cut office paper in half to use as notepads on the reverse side… check;
- rinse out plastic baggies to use again and again…check, check, check!
All this scrimping and saving reminds me a lot of my grandma; being a true Scot, she used to keep every single yoghurt container my grandpa ate from; washed and stacked they made perfect building blocks for my brother and me when we came to visit. Did I notice that I was playing with used yoghurt containers? Not in the slightest. When I think about it, it’s my grandma I should look towards as a role model for zero waste, way before it was the ‘thing’ to do so.