Happy Earth Day!
This blog post has been a LONG time coming! It has been over 5 years for me, of making a concise effort to reduce my waste footprint. Growing up, my parents had recycling and compost in the house, doing the best we could to reduce our landfill contributions. I applaud the Calgary system too, for having such good recycling bins set-up! My move to Vancouver in 2012, really started to make me want to make the shift, by taking a look into other areas of my life I could make an improvement.
*please know this post is not sponsored by any companies, but does include affiliate links to help support my business. Thanks for reading
Small things like putting my sandwich in a reusable container (even a plastic one) instead of a single use plastic bag. Bringing my own water bottle EVERYWHERE, and not being afraid to ask people to refill it when a water fountain wasn’t available. Bringing my own bags to the grocery store, including my own produce bags. And to go as far as collecting my soft plastics, because my apartment doesn’t have a bin for them and taking them to a proper recycling collection site.
If you have been wanting to make a change, not to go full granola in a day, but slowly making better steps to a lower eco footprint, here are my top 10 tips to start the change!
1. Bring your own water bottle
I’m surprised I even have to say this, especially when I teach or attend a dance or fitness class. First of all there are SO many cute water bottles out there that can match your style. And why waste $2 – $5 on a plastic bottle of water, when water (I’m counting my blessings) in Canada is free. Don’t be afraid when at a sports event, trade show, coffee shop etc. to ask someone to fill up your bottle when empty. Worst they’ll say is no, and you save it until the next opportunity to refill! Plastic water bottles are consuming our oceans, and we need to keep them as clean as possible.
Mine has a little bit of a beating to it, because I take it almost everywhere!
2. Lunch Containers
This can be applied in more than one way. If you bring your own lunch (first of all BRAVO), think about how are you transporting your lunch to work? Is it packed in glass containers vs. plastic? Do you bring your own reusable cutlery or use the stainless steel fork that always lingers in the lunch room? Are you bringing a drink? How is it packaged and can it be recycled?
To go even further than this, if you’re eating lunch out how can you reduce waste. Maybe saying no to the plastic fork or chopsticks that come with your meal, and bring your own cutlery. Are you ordering an iced coffee for that afternoon pick me up? Bring your own iced coffee cup and your own straw too!
P.s. Starbucks gives you a small cup discount back for bringing your own, I call that winning.
If you are ordering food, ask if they’ll put it in your own container, yep bring your own containers to put the sushi into for e.g.. Or, support your local food spot that has recyclable take out containers. I.e. not styrofoam. This can take some pre-planning, but will make a huge difference in terms of lunchtime landfill contributions.
Glass Container Set (a gift from my parents last Christmas, my fav!)
*shown in picture
*the most popular reusable sandwich bag
Stainless Steel Straw
*great to keep in the car or for travelling
Iced Coffee Cup
3. Recycle your soft plastics
I don’t know where you’re reading this from, so hello! From wherever you are in the world 🙂
Does your city or town recycle soft plastics? If you’re living in Vancouver like me, unfortunately it doesn’t. There’s no bin picked up outside my building weekly for soft plastics, so I make the effort to have this happen on my own.
My new years resolution for 2018 was to recycle soft plastics, and I have stuck with it (woo hoo). In Vancouver, London Drugs have a drop off spot for soft plastics which can be an easier adjustment to make thank you think.
In an ideal world, we avoid soft plastics altogether best we can, this really is true for the food packaging industry. When we can’t though, let’s work on avoiding them in our landfill.
4. Eco Cleaning Solutions
How do you clean? Perhaps this is a personal home question. Do you use disinfectant wipes for everything and throw them in the trash?
My fav way to clean is my refillable glass spray bottle with either Sapadilla Countertop Spray or a Castille Soap solution (1 soap to 4 water) and white rags! Purchase a pack of 10 white bar rags from your local shop, and reuse them. I throw them in with my laundry, and bam, clean clothes to use again. A bigger win with this is the amount costs you’ll cut down.
P.s. if you want your soap mixture to be scented, add a couple drops of your favourite essential oil.
This one is a bit tricky, because sometimes it’s unavoidable. If you work in construction, you need a truck to transport equipment, or you have 4 kids and taking the bus vs. a mini van is beyond impractical. I drive a car, but even with my car, I try to not drive with all seat heaters on or the air co blasting, which makes my car work harder, and produces more emissions. When I can, I take public transportation or better yet cycle or walk, plus I get some bonus steps in for the day and save on fuel or fare.
6. Bring your own bag.
Another tip, you think would be a no brainer. Whenever shopping, even if it’s picking up your dry cleaning (which I’ve never been able to afford ha), or dropping off your kids’ lunch at school, think about what bag is it in? The biggest place to make a change is when grocery shopping, bringing your own bags, which at some stores you save on bag deposits too. To take it a step further, purchasing reusable produce bags can be a game changer. I like the way my fruit and veggies are in the produce bags, and make for easier organization in the fridge, as they’re more see through then the for free plastic bags in the produce section.
7. Buy in Bulk
When possible, buy in bulk, and bring your own containers! More and more cities are opening up package free stores. In Vancouver we’re lucky to have The Soap Dispensary and Nada, as well as Bulk Barn in North Vancouver. I’ve always been inspired by the Package Free Shop in NY as well.
Even in the bulk section of your local grocery store, bring your own bags or jars to refill your food with. A great idea for this type of shopping is when you may be recipe testing or just cooking for one. You’ll be able to buy smaller portions, instead of a full package that you may end of throwing out before eating before its expiry date.
When it comes to reducing waste in the bathroom, including skin care, beauty regime etc. I really ask myself, where are my products coming from? I love supporting Canadian companies (if you’ve been following me for a while this is old news), including Pure Anada from Manitoba for makeup and Ativo Skincare in Vancouver for skin care. Both these companies are cruelty free, and by buying slightly more local (I realize Manitoba is a bit away from Vancouver), I’m saving emissions of travel for the product to hit the shelves, and supporting local businesses vs. mass production factories.
Another one of my favourite tips, is the little colourful pink circle in the bottom left hand side of my picture. My Mama made me reusable cotton pads, for removing makeup, taking off nail polish etc. and they have been SO easy to use. Once dirty, I throw them in with my laundry, and voila easily re-usable again.
9. Not home? Turn it off.
Yep…all of it. Lights, heat, oil diffusers, electronics you never use. When lamps or electronics are off but still plugged in, they still consume energy. It’s minimal BUT still happens. Growing up, I was trained to never leave a light on in a room I wasn’t in, and I’m thankful for this habit. It not only cuts down my Hydro bill now but, long term I hope will make an environmentally impact. Also your water consumption. Do you take 25 minute showers (I don’t even know how people can stay under water this long). Can you cut it down to even 24 minutes and eventually more? Or more reasonable, less than 5 minutes?. Can you turn the tap off when brushing your teeth or washing the dishes? These will make a difference!
10. Recycle and Compost
Sounds so silly but get in the habit, even when you’re out and about. Can you save the banana peel until you reach work or home to compost it?
I know, I know, you’ve heard this one before. BUT do it 🙂 Rinse out your containers, read the rules of your bins in your city and make the effort.
*Tip (thanks to my friends for telling me): Put your compost in the freezer, it won’t smell and makes for easy dumping when the waste is frozen inside.
If there’s any take away from this blog post, reduce before you recycle. If we can even eliminate how much is going into our recycling services, we wouldn’t need the resources to run those facilities.
Slow and steady will win this race. Begin to make small changes, grab a friend and commit to a week challenge. Find little, easy ways to incorporate these new habits into your life, and don’t be too hard on yourself. We all (including me) forget our to go mug and water bottle every once in a while, do your best when you can.
If you have any questions or feedback, don’t be shy to write a comment below or chat with me, would love to hear your success!