Did you know that over 90% of plastics are not recycled in Canada?
It is shocking facts such as this one that have spiked concern among Canadians when reflecting on how our everyday actions impact the planet. Many are striving to be more eco-conscious through shopping habits, product consumption, and household waste. This month is Plastic-Free July and we want to join in on the fun! Although the intention of reducing our environmental footprint exists, not everyone knows where to begin when it comes to impactful actions. There are all kinds of simple steps that can be taken to be more sustainable with food — from the grocery store to our kitchens, and everything in between. While completely eliminating single-use items from our lives may not be a reasonable starting point, these six tips will be a helpful guide in your journey to a zero waste lifestyle:
Opt for reusable drinkware. And carry it with you.
Reusable water bottles and coffee mugs are a no brainer. With access to clean tap water and effective filtration systems, a reusable water bottle is an easy way to eliminate the waste of single-use water bottles. The same goes for coffee mugs. If you often purchase tea or coffee to-go, consider carrying a reusable mug with you. Many coffee shops actually pour more coffee in reusables, and will sometimes give you a few cents off your order. Reusable mugs will also keep your drink warm for longer than a paper cup. An unfortunate fact about paper coffee cups is they have a wax coating which prevents them from being recycled. Keep your reusable in your car, backpack, gym bag, or at your desk to ensure it’s always accessible when you need it most.
Ditch the straw.
You may have seen the alarming video of a turtle’s horrible encounter with a floating straw that circulated online in 2018. Shortly after, those frustrated by plastic waste in our oceans prompted the straw movement. Because of their narrow and light structure, plastic straws are especially hazardous for marine life. Many businesses in the food and hospitality industry only provide straws on request and have started using ones composed of paper, rather than plastic. Individuals have started making their own lifestyle changes by using reusable stainless steel or bamboo straws. Some have ditched straws all together.
Do grocery hauls.
A small amount of prep goes a long way! Browse your weekly deals on reebee to plan your meals and build a personalized paperless shopping list. By doing one big grocery haul a week, you will end up making fewer trips to the store — which reduces carbon emissions. In addition, when you follow a shopping list, you are less likely to make impulse buys or over-purchase on fresh foods. Buying only what you need for your planned meals ensures there will be no food waste.
Opt for reusable grocery and produce bags.
There is a reason why grocery stores charge customers to use plastic bags — they are not doing the planet any favours. Invest in some durable reusable grocery bags and keep them handy with your bike, in your car, or by the door. This is a simple way to avoid A) the unnecessary accumulation of plastic bags at your home and B) plastic bags ending up in our landfill, parks, lakes, and oceans. An interesting point is that many shoppers have reusable bags when they check out but still use the thin plastic bags when grabbing their produce. The fact is we don’t really need to do this. We tend to wash our fruits and vegetables before eating them anyways. Cloth netted bags, and various other designs, that have been created to hold produce items can be purchased as an environmentally-friendly alternative.
BYOC (Bring Your Own Containers).
BYOC and use them in the bulk foods section. Employees will have you weigh your containers or mason jars prior to filling them. It’s also smart to label each container with their weight. This simple action prevents the use of styrofoam, plastic, and paper packaging on foods that are available in bulk. Styrofoam is particularly harmful as it cannot be recycled, and unfortunately is still used to package some produce. The best practice is to opt for produce that is freely displayed without packaging. These items can be thrown right into your cart or stored in a reusable produce bag. Some zero waste advocates like to keep a grocery kit in their car at all times that holds reusable containers, grocery bags and produce bags.
Keep it green in the kitchen.
Here’s how: Eliminate single-use products such as plastic wrap and plastic sealed bags. There are numerous reusable alternatives that serve the same purpose as single-use packaging. For example, washable containers and beeswax wraps are the perfect items to use when preserving leftover food or meal prepping. Although paper plates and plastic cutlery can be convenient when hosting parties, they are extremely wasteful. Opt for dishes that you can wash and reuse instead! Lastly, check out your local waste management programs to learn how you can optimize your recycling. If you have a backyard, look at introducing a composter at home to reduce the amount of waste leaving your property each week.