Waste Less, Every Day: Simple Changes for Sustainable Living
Every day we take part in activities that involve consumption such as eating, commuting and dressing ourselves up in the latest fashions! This consumption impacts the environment in various ways that can be hard for us to visualize. A great way to understand our impact is to look at our “Ecological Footprint”, which measures the amount of nature’s resources consumed by an individual in a given year. The average Canadian has a footprint of 7.7 hectares, which is way above the sustainable goal of 1.7 hectares.
Fortunately, there are very simple changes we can make to our daily lives to cut down on waste, and in turn reduce our ecological footprints for more sustainable living! Here are some easy ways to waste less, every day.
Ditch the Plastic
Single use plastic items such as bags, utensils, straws and take out containers are used so commonly in our daily lives. Although some of these plastics make it into the recycle bin, a lot of energy is then used to collect, sort and transform those items. Also, a lot of this plastic simply ends up in the trash, either because it was put there, or because it is a plastic that cannot be recycled.
Here are some simple ways to ditch the plastic:
- Bring cloth reusable bags to carry your groceries
- Use mesh bags for produce
- Bring glass jars or cloth bags to stock up on bulk items
- Try a reusable food wrap like Abeego, made from beeswax
- Use glass containers, or reuse those glass jars from your grocery items instead of recycling them!
- Buy brands that store their products in glass or paper (E.g. makeup, food, cleaning supplies)
- Buy in bulk
- Grow your own produce and freeze, ferment or preserve for the winter
While bringing your own lunch is the best, you can also make eating out more eco-friendly:
- Carry a bamboo or metal spork instead of using plastic cutlery
- Carry a glass or metal straw
- Bring a mason jar with you to be filled with coffee, or leftovers from lunch!
We also take back all of our glass bottles at Village Juicery to reuse, don’t forget!
A lot of waste is created because of the fast pace at which we consume things. Whether it’s buying the latest version of something you already own, or re-buying something that broke, a lot of extra consumption occurs quite commonly.
Here are some ways to decrease consumption by reusing items:
Repair instead of re-buy
- You can do this with clothing, electronics, furniture
- Cut Old t-shirts into cleaning cloths or handkerchiefs
- Save glass food containers (e.g. salsa jar) for food storage
- Use an dld toothbrush to clean small areas in home
Stop the “one-and-done” and decrease consumption of single use products
- Try reusable dryer balls instead of dryer sheets
- Use a reusable tray liner instead of tin foil
- Use cloth napkins and cleaning rags instead of paper towel
- Buy good quality, ethically made staples that can be mixed and matched to make multiple outfits that you will enjoy for years, rather than one season
- Shop at thrift or vintage stores
- Donate old clothing instead of throwing it in the trash for someone else to enjoy
A lot of resources are used to get our food to the grocery store, especially when that food is grown far away. Emissions are created by processing, refrigerating and transporting food as it travels to you. When you shop local, not only are these emissions reduced, but there is also a decrease in the packaging waste that is used when transporting food.
Here are some ways to eat local:
- Shop your local farmer’s markets and support local farmers
- Join a community garden or start your own garden at home
- Check food labels at the grocery store for location food was grown
- Support restaurants that use local ingredients
Erin Smith is currently studying to become a Certified Nutritional Practitioner at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. She also holds an honours degree in Biology from McMaster University, as well as a degree in Education from the University of Toronto. She is the cofounder of Kicking It Whole School, an online business that focuses on healthy eating, natural body care, green living and holistic health. Combining her love for nutrition and teaching, Erin’s mission is to help families discover the fun and ease in cooking healthy meals that nourish the body, and delight the taste buds! Follow her on Instagram @KickingItWholeSchool, or check out her blog www.kickingitwholeschool.com.