Have you been discouraged in your zero waste efforts these past few weeks? Take heart! Here are a few simple ways that you can continue to reduce waste while staying at home.
Fine-Tune Your Mending Game
If you’re like me, you have a pile (somewhere) of clothes that need mending. Mine includes a couple pairs of jeans, two shirts, and one of my daughter’s toques. I normally put off mending for far too long — it’s not unusual for the child whose clothes I’m mending to have grown out of them by the time they’re fixed (oops!).
Or, maybe you don’t mend. Maybe you donate, compost or throw out pieces that have holes in them.
Stretching the life of items that have worn out is a huge part of reducing your household waste — right up there with reducing your buying/consumption in general, and choosing products that will last in the first place. If you’re finding yourself with extra time on your hands and you feel inspired to create better waste reduction habits, mending is a great pursuit.
The internet, of course, is the perfect resource to learn how to mend anything you may need to. If you have a needle and some thread, you can get started right now! (And if you don’t, consider purchasing some from a local retailer for curbside pickup!)
Hot Tip: search “visible mending” for a unique look!
Explore the Ways Technology Can Help You to Live More Sustainably
There are apps out there for everything including living greener! Why not have a look at a few and see if any would suit your needs? A few we like:
- Dirty Dozen was created by the Environmental Working group. This app lists fruits and vegetables by the amount of pesticides used to grow them.
- Farmstand connects you to farmer’s markets around the world. You can see what’s nearby and link up to markets and vendors.
- Good Guide: Available as an online database but also an app, you can enter in products like cosmetics, soaps and personal care items and it will give the item a quality rating based on its ingredient list. Our web manager Emilie says, “I use this because I have trouble remembering what chemicals are toxic/problematic and this colour codes them/lists them out in a really easy, simple-to-use way. You can also scan items while you’re out shopping to make sure you’re getting a quality product. I’ve been using this a lot recently since I’ve had to switch to a lot of drugstore-brand things since all the local places I get my hair products, etc have shut down.”
- Good On You: Similar to Good Guide but for clothes and fast fashion. Emilie says: “I thrift pretty much all of my clothes, but I’m usually curious about the brands so I look them up here after I go thrifting. They offer a rating based on a number of factors, including labour rights, environmental impact and animal rights. They have a detailed breakdown of the criteria they use to rate brands and lots of great info on the backstory of the company.”
You can also use technology to connect with others on green topics, like gardening and zero waste living. Try Facebook groups for community and resources!
Come Down Hard on Food Waste
Maybe you’re stuck at home… and maybe you’re spending more time in the kitchen than usual. Back when life was “normal,” many of us found life a bit too busy to do any better than compost our food scraps (at best!). Maybe you saved your onion scraps for making soup stock, or maybe you ground up your bread ends to make bread crumbs. But now, if you have the time to spare, there’s an opportunity to pay closer attention to your scraps and find ways to use them all up. The first step is to look carefully at what’s in your fridge, freezer and pantry and assess what should be used up first before it goes bad. This should be the basis of your meal plan! Next, you can assess scraps as they happen — many fruit and veggie scraps can be used for soup stock, or smoothies (just freeze and use later!). Here are some of our favourite resources for reducing food waste:
- How to store all sorts of fruits and vegetables to they’ll last as long as possible
- How to use meal planning to reduce kitchen waste
- Waste reduction tips from top chefs!
Take This Opportunity to Gain Some Perspective On Your Lifestyle
Many of us are finding ourselves turning quite introspective during this time of isolation and slowed down lifestyle. We’re asking ourselves: what is really important to us?
This is a perfect time to take stock of how your regular lifestyle impacts the earth. What are your most common activities? What burns gas? Uses water? Uses resources that aren’t necessary to use? Leaves marks on the earth?
Could you work from home, even part-time, even once you’re given the go-ahead to return to work? Could you ride your bike instead of driving, at least some of the time? By giving up certain activities, and a level of “busy-ness,” could you allow for a slower-paced, less resource-intensive, more fulfilling life? What is truly important to you?
Set Reusables Aside For Later
It might be paining you to have to use plastic bags at the grocery store. Here in Calgary — and many other places, from what we hear — grocery stores have asked customers not to bring reusable bags. And plastic & packaging is sneaking in in other ways, too. Judging by our Instagram feed, many of you have more packaging coming into your home out of necessity these days. There is not a lot to be done about this — we need to follow recommendations with the goal of curbing the spread of this virus — however, you *can* save and reuse packaging. For instance, I am holding onto the plastic produce bags that have been coming with my grocery pickup orders, and I will reuse them later (if they’re clean). I try to buy pasta sauce in glass jars with Mason-sized lids that I can use on our Mason jars for regular, every day storage. Before placing packaging in the recycling or trash, take a close look and decide whether it could be repurposed — even if that means later. Remember, summer produce season will still come this year, so having extra options for freezing or storing the summer’s bounty might be welcome!