We all know that waste is a huge problem. But it’s an easy problem to push to the side – especially if you live in an urban setting where your trash disappears from your curb. Out of sight, out of mind as they say. But all that trash ends up in landfills which produce methane – a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in its contribution to climate change:
Your Trash –> Landfill –> Methane
Methane > Carbon Dioxide = Climate change
Thus, Your Trash indirectly contributes to Climate Change
Recycling facilities are better, but some recyclables end up being shipped overseas, resulting in their own carbon footprint.
2 Ways Your Trash Is Costing You Money
Reducing waste can go a long way to reducing your own environmental footprint as well as being friendlier on your wallet.
- Individually packaged products typically cost more than bulk
- Food waste may be a surprising drain on your expenses. In fact, Canadian households waste $14.6B of food every year (this means that a family of 4 could be wasting $1600 a year!).
The Packaging Problem
If you’re like many busy families shopping at major grocery store chains, it can be difficult to find decent bulk sections (check out Zero Waste Home’s Bulk Finder App). In addition, many food items are individually wrapped for “convenience”.
The good news is, zero waste shops are starting to increase in popularity. Here in Canada, the Bulk Barn recently revised their rules to allow customers to bring their own reusable containers and dedicated zero-waste grocery stores are opening up in places like Salt Spring Island, Montreal and Ottawa. So there is hope! While it may take some time for zero-waste shopping to come to your city or town, there are still ways you can reduce your waste at home.
How You Can Aim for a Zero Waste Kitchen
Whether you aspire to reduce your yearly waste to fit in a mason jar (like Zero Waste Home’s Bea Johnson above or these Canadian families, Katelin Leblond and Tara Smith-Arnsdorf from PAREdown), or simply want to reduce what you throw away, your kitchen is a great place to start. By focusing on just one room, you’ll reduce overwhelm and you can start seeing simple changes add up pretty quickly. Think it’s impossible? Check out these two families as they show how it can be done:
Simple Audit and Take Action
To take some of the guess-work out of the process for your own household, start with a simple waste audit. Here’s how it works:
- Take a look in your kitchen garbage, recycling and compost bins and write a list of what’s in them right now. Keep this list and a pen near the bins for a week.
- Start counting how many of each type of waste you’re throwing out – tick it off as you toss it in the bin. Add new items if need-be.
- At the end of the week, take a look at the most commonly thrown out items and come up with ways you can avoid them – either by buying less or replacing them with a lower-waste option.
For example, if you are throwing away single-use plastic wrap, consider replacing it with Beeswax based food wrap that you can wash, dry, and reuse.
If you’re a coffee junkie, you can now ditch the single-use pods or even the throw-away coffee filters. Opt for reusable filters you can rinse and reuse again and again.
(If based in Toronto or Ottawa, consider this business or home pickup service by Go Java that claims to pickup, replenish and recycle your pods via partnership with Terracycle)
For overflowing with food waste compost bins, take some time before your next grocery shop to do a proper meal plan. You can check out handy tools, like Meal Garden, to help you find recipes and automatically create shopping lists based on them.
If your garbage is full of single-use plastic, take a look at our strategies for creating a waste-free lunch to help you make the switch away from plastic sandwich bags and drink containers.
And if you’ve got kids who love drinking from plastic straws, go stainless instead (just don’t forget to clean them so they last longer).
Everyone’s trash looks a little different, which is why it’s important to take stock of what you’re tossing before you create a plan to reduce it. With a little extra attention, you can probably make some simple changes that have a big impact on how much waste you produce at home. Challenge yourself! See how many bags you’re throwing out in a week, and try reducing it each week for a month.
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