12 April 2019

How We Reduced Waste at Home

It's been one year since we moved into our new home. And one of the biggest goals I set when moving was to try and eliminate (or at least reduce) the amount of waste we create day-to-day, you might remember my post from last year on #wastefree living. Our township picks up garbage every other week and limits a household to two large bags per pick-up. And quite frankly I find two bags outrageous when you consider how many households there are.

I'm very passionate about waste reduction, so I challenged us first to not go over the two bag limit. To my surprise we were only creating one bag of garbage every two weeks anyways, so I challenged us to keep reducing this amount. Its been fairly easy, with both of us being actively aware of things that end up in the trash. Some weeks we barely have enough trash to bother dragging the bin out to the road, but our recycling and green bin are ALWAYS in motion. This is how we do it...

Switch to reusable.
Stasher bags, Abeego bees wax wrap, silicone baking sheets, mason jars and fabric produce bags. These are all items I initially invested in and will keep on using to eliminate waste from items such as Ziploc bags, Saran wrap, aluminum foil, plastic produce bags and more. The initial investment is always a little alarming, but when you realize the money you’re saving by not buying plastic wrap, Ziploc bags, foil, etc., you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I know you're probably thinking "more stuff I have to buy?" which seems counter-intuitive given we are trying to STOP using products, but think of the amount of waste you are going to stop creating with just a few small purchases. Also check out a previous post of mine on waste-free period products.

Shop Stasher bags here.
Shop Abeego bees wax wrap here.
Shop my favourite mesh produce bags here.
Shop the best silicone baking sheets here.

Until May 18, 2019 use the code "simplysera319" to save $10 off your first well.ca order, so you can stock up on sustainable products, health foods and clean beauty products!

Put EVERYTHING in the green bin!
And I mean everything. Even toilet paper. Since we’re on a septic tank we need to be careful about what we flush ... so in every bathroom I have a compost bin beside the garbage. In the kitchen, the compost bin is basically my Sous Chef - there is a very cute one from Dollarama (similar to the one shown above) that looks great on the counter and is super inexpensive. In the summer we use a compost which is at the very back of our property, and make sure everything that CAN be put in the compost, goes IN the compost. I essentially have a meltdown when I see something in the garbage that can be put in the green bin / compost! A reminder to mamas and papas, diapers can be composted so put a compost bin in your nursery and say goodbye to garbage bags full of poopy diapers. It feels good to fill the green bin, but filling a garbage bag actually hurts my heart.

Learn more about what can go in Toronto green bins here.
Learn how to start composting here.

Don’t accept plastic bags.
If I’m shopping and the store asks if I’d like a bag I always ask if it’s plastic or paper. If it’s paper I usually take it and reuse it as gift wrap. If it’s plastic, I say no thanks! I also carry around a Baggu reusable shopping tote, from Well.ca, that folds up small and weighs next to nothing. I don’t even notice it in my purse! It comes in handy when I'm shopping at stores where plastic bags are the only option.

For produce, I have reusable mesh bags that can be thrown in the washing machine, but I have to credit Trader Joe's for their compostable produce bags. Even Tyler was impressed on a recent trip to Trader Joe's when he realized the produce bags doubled as bags for our green bin. Win-Win!

Recycle and reuse.

When you're shopping look at how things are packaged. If they are packaged in plastic wrap, pass. I always look for products that are packaged in cardboard because I know cardboard can be recycled. I also love anything in a glass jar, because I can reuse glass jars for Bulk Barn visits, or to organize my pantry and craft cupboard.

This goes for produce too. I buy field cucumbers over English cucumbers because field cucumbers don't come wrapped in plastic! I don't buy any produce in bulk bags - i.e. apples, lemons, avocados. And I opt for celery and carrots in bunches rather than the ones in plastic bags. Just be aware when you're shopping and you'll notice a big difference in the amount of waste you're creating!

Shop in bulk, or buy package-free.
Bulk stores are all the trend right now, and this is a trend I won't be hating on. I love the idea of buying in bulk with reusable containers. And I don't just mean buying food in bulk (i.e. at Bulk Barn), you can also buy personal care items such as shampoo, conditioner, even FLOSS, in bulk at stores such as Bare Market and Saponetti. I am hoping a bulk store opens in Newmarket soon!

For items such as soap and shaving cream, opt for package-free products. One of my favourite clean swaps has been switching from shaving cream in a container, to bar shaving cream. I LOVE the Rocky Mountain Soap Co. peppermint shave bar. I love it more because it is travel-friendly, and package-free.

Shop the Rocky Mountain Soap Co. Pepper Shave Bar here.

Bring your own tumbler.
Guilty of going to Starbucks daily? Skip the cup and bring your own mug. Not only are you saving the planet, but Starbucks will also give you a 10 cent discount for caring about the planet. Coffee cups from coffee shops are never recyclable. Even though you might think they are because they are made out of paper, the lining is coated with plastic or wax which cannot be broken down therefor coffee cups all end up in landfills. Sad, I know. So bring your own cup to avoid this excess waste.

Shop my favourite Joco tumbler here.

Support sustainable brands.
Two items I didn't even consider wasteful before were toothbrushes and razors. To me, they are necessities so I didn't see the wasteful side of them. But it's true, standard toothbrushes and razors end up in land fills, and while they're so small they barely contributed to waste production, it still bothered me knowing where they were going. I switched to an epilator just over a year ago to basically eliminate razors (I still use a Well Kept razor to shave my underarms), and did some research on bamboo toothbrushes before deciding to make the switch. Bamboo is one of the most sustainable crops and requires little to no pesticides and watering. Bamboo also self-generates and grows quite quickly, so the crops are never endangered. Bamboo items are also 100% recyclable, so again nothing is landfill-bound.

Shop my favourite Braun epilator here. (I want the Braun FaceSpa too!)
Shop the best bamboo toothbrushes here.
Shop Well Kept sustainable razors here. (This brand is Canadian, from Vancouver!)

Do you have any other waste-free living tips? If so, leave a comment below :)

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