If there’s one thing we’ve really loved discovering as we go along our Waste Not journey, it’s how many awesome people we know who have been similarly moved to be conscious of their impact on the earth. We have been so thrilled to find people who have been making these changes for years already, and who are always happy to offer us tips as we come up against new challenges.
We’re really excited to start featuring guest posts from some of these amazing people in our community , and to be able to share more perspectives with our friends, families, and readers. Cass met our first guest poster through the SaskAcro community, but we had no idea that she was also interested in the zero-waste movement until we began our blog back in December. Read on, to hear about Tennille Hall and her family’s move towards zero-waste!
My name is Tennille and I’ve been trying to drastically reduce what I send to the landfill while I’m on my journey towards a “zero-waste” lifestyle. At our best, my husband and I send one grocery-size bag of trash to the landfill every two weeks.
I cannot remember a time that I wasn’t concerned about the destruction of our planet. I grew up on a farm, and even as a little girl, I remember being very bothered by several environmentally destructive practices, one being the fact that we burned our trash. When I moved to the city after high school, I was even more bothered by the amount of garbage that we, the citizens of Saskatoon, send to the landfill.
Throughout my life, I have developed several practices to attempt to live a “green” life, such as riding my bike to work each day, growing my own vegetables in the garden, composting, and several other things. However, I never gave much thought to the plastic that is everywhere. I hated throwing away the plastic that came from food and body-care products that I bought, but I didn’t know how to avoid it.
Not long ago I came across a book called Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson, and this was the moment that really changed my life and put me on the path I’m on now. Her family of four, plus a dog, create very little waste. The waste she and her family create in a year can fit into a mason jar. They also don’t buy anything in plastic – they have found ways around it. They inspire me, and also provide me with relief – I can finally stop feeling guilty about my trash, because I, too, can move toward a zero waste life.
Without mentioning the obvious things, such as replacing plastic grocery bags with reusable ones, taking your coffee/tea mug with you to the coffee shop, using a reusable water bottle, I’m going to mention a few other things I’ve found in Saskatoon to reduce my plastic and trash consumption. Of course the above mentioned things are some of the most important changes you can make, but I want to highlight some of the less talked about changes you can make, and products you can find in Saskatoon. I would also like to mention that plastic is not recyclable like paper is, so recycling plastic is not the solution – plastic can only be down-cycled.
My goal is to reduce what goes into my trash can and recycling bin. Here are ten things that are easy to swap and where to find them:
Tip: I’ve found it is difficult to get lettuces/kale/spinach without the plastic sleeve. These are vegetables I prefer to buy organic so I buy them at Dad’s Organic Market. If you go to the store on days they receive shipment, they will give you some from the back that have not yet been wrapped in the sleeve. Take a dish towel to wrap them in because they are wet.
2. Choose glass over plastic. If you are buying groceries that require packaging, and if there is the option – always choose glass. These are things like salsa, apple sauce, jam, honey, etc.
3. Body Care:
* There are soaps without packaging at Bulk Barn (Soap Works), as well as a shampoo/conditioner bar (also made by Soap Works) without packaging at Bulk Barn.
* You can buy soaps, shampoo bars, conditioner bars, and lotion bars without packaging at Lush. Be sure to look at the ingredients in the products if it’s important to you to use natural products. The products at Lush are not all created equally.
Tip: Take your own container when shopping at Lush so that you don’t have to use their paper bag.
* 10,000 Villages sells chap stick that comes in compostable packaging.
* I like to use cocoa butter as body lotion. You can buy this in cardboard packaging at Herbs & Health. I use this on my face and body because it works well with my skin. They also sell mango butter and shea butter in the same type of packaging.
* My favourite bar soap is Dr. Bronner’s. It is wrapped in paper packaging, which can be recycled. I buy this at The Better Good or Dad’s Organic Market.
4. Dishwasher Detergent:
I use dishwasher detergent called Ecover that comes in a cardboard box, which I buy at Dad’s Organic Market. It’s more expensive than other brands but this is the best option I have found so far.
My compost is set up outside and I use it year-round. If you live in an apartment or condo, you can start vermicomposting. The Better Good sells vermicomposters, although you can also make your own. Research what can go into your compost. For example, you can compost things like hair and nails.
You can buy unpackaged bread (remember to take your own cloth bag) at several bakeries in Saskatoon. I often make my own bread, but I have bought bread at Earth Bound Bakery.
7. For females, swap menstrual products for reusables. You can buy a menstrual cup at most pharmacies or grocery stores in Saskatoon, and cloth pads made by local sellers on Etsy.
8. Eating out:
* Ask for your drinks without a straw. If you need a straw, you can buy stainless steel straws at The Better Good and keep them in your purse/bag. * Take your own containers with you for leftovers.
* If you are ordering something that requires plastic side-dishes, ask for them in a separate dish instead (example: sour cream, salsa, etc). I have never had a server get upset over this request.
* Take your own cloth napkin.
In the summer, pick your own berries at local places such as The Strawberry Ranch and take your own containers for picking.
Replace tissues with handkerchiefs. I turn old clothing into handkerchiefs and keep them in the pockets of jackets or sweaters that I wear often, as well as my purse.
In order to reduce your trash, look at it. What are you throwing away? Is there a way you can replace that item with something else, compost it, or do without it? That’s the mindset to follow when you are transitioning into this lifestyle.