retail me not: striving for zero waste

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I’m becoming more and more fascinated with the concept of Zero Waste and creating less waste in our household as a means of lessening our impact on the earth.  We’re already recycling and doing our best to limit what we are bringing home, but practicing a lifestyle that results in less waste means choosing necessities (like food) that are either unpackaged or packaged as little as possible.  It also means making an effort to dispose of our waste as responsibly as possible.  After doing a little sleuthing, I discovered that Vancouver has a food scraps drop off program in place where every Saturday you can take your compostable waste, including food scraps and coffee grinds, to be disposed of in a more sustainable way – your waste is converted to compost rather being sent to the dump!  I performed an experiment last week and created a food waste bin in my fridge – I wanted to see how much of our garbage is actually food scraps and waste.  By simply diverting our food waste into a stainless steel bowl in the fridge, I’ve managed to avoid taking a single trip to the garbage room in our building this week and the garbage in our trash can is about half its normal amount.  I’m looking forward to taking an inaugural trip down to the food waste drop off spot next weekend.

Reducing our packaging is a big part of reducing our waste. Photo courtesy of Apartment Therapy

These are some of my goals for this year with respect to moving towards producing less waste in our household:

  1. Avoiding food with packaging (especially excessive, non-reusable or non-recyclable packaging)
  2. Carry reusable bags so as to refuse plastic and paper bags when shopping
  3. Reuse packaging (rather than recycling) by frequenting stores that will allow me to reuse and refill my own containers
  4. Making food at home so as to make it healthier and produce less packaging waste
  5. Diverting food waste by collecting compostable food scraps
  6. Lose weight by eating real food and food as close to its natural state as possible
I will admit that buying food products with as little packaging as possible can be a bit tricky.  But I believe that any effort to reduce one’s waste is commendable!  Recently, I have been making  grocery trips to Whole Foods (or lovingly referred to as “Whole Paycheck” in these parts) and have been making a real effort to buy food with little or no packaging.  This is quite simple in the produce section – I brought my own reusable produce bags that I purchased last year (from Carebags).  When I had finished shopping, I stopped by the customer service desk and asked if they allow customers to bring their own reusable containers to be used at the meat and deli counters – and they said, no problem!  The great thing about Whole Foods Market is that they do not carry any products in their store that contain high fructose corn syrop or hydrogenated oils, and all of their meats are hormone and antibiotic free.  Whew.  So in addition to being sure that you aren’t getting anything extra in your food, you can also eliminate some of the packaging that comes along with groceries and avoid having to bring it home at all!

If you are interested in cultivating a zero waste lifestyle, one of my favourite resources for inspiration on this subject is Bea at The Zero Waste Home.  Bea and her family are living proof that with a little effort and planning, zero waste (or little waste) is possible for a family with children.

Are you interested in reducing your waste and your impact on the planet?  What works for you and your family in terms of reducing waste in your household?  Please share your ideas in the comments – I love hearing what others are doing on to reduce their impact on the planet!

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