5 Ways to Reduce Your Waste Today

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Tuesday is our least favourite day of the week. For most that would be Monday – work begins and the weekend is nowhere in sight. Wednesday is another commonly disliked day. It’s not quite Monday, but the weekend still seems just as far away. To us, Monday and Wednesday are nothing compared to our dreaded Tuesday.

In our neighbourhood, Tuesday is garbage day. Cans filled to the brim line the street. More often than not, especially if there’s a strong wind, pieces of trash will be blown out of their bins and scatter on the ground. It’s the one day each week that we see how much waste we produce as a household.

At A Greener Future, we are constantly thinking of new ways to eliminate waste in our daily lives. What we’ve realized is, you don’t have to overthink it, you just have to plan it. Here are 5 simple tips you can use to reduce your waste today:

5. Use Reusable Containers

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This may seem like a simple one, but too many of us fall victim to the convenience of plastic wrap, tin foil, and plastic zip bags. While we admit there may be a bag or two in our cupboards for emergencies, using reusable lunch containers will keep your food just as fresh, and will minimize the amount of trash coming from your household on a day-to-day basis.

 

4. Don't Let Food Expire

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You may want to sit down for this one. Canadians waste $31 billion worth of food every year. Out of that giant pile of food, 47% is wasted in the home. That statistic is garbage! Literally. Just being mindful of the expiration dates of the food in your fridge can significantly reduce your waste. Meal planning is also a great way to ensure you only buy what you need. And hey, if that cucumber does go bad, just make sure you compost it so it doesn't end up wasting space in the landfill and the nutrients can be reused as soil.

 

3. Shop Second Hand

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Going shopping with a friend after work or school? Try shopping at a second hand store. Reusing items until the end of their life is a great way to reduce waste and keep stuff out of the landfill. You can save a pretty penny, and often come out with good finds, too. Recently, we found a pair of Manolo Blahnik heels that retail for $965, for only $12.99 at our local Value Village! It’s worth it just for the savings! And it works both ways, if you have items you no longer use pass them on to a second hand shop and it might give them a better life and free up space in your home.

 

2. Use Quality Products

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Buying products that last is better for the environment and your wallet. Nowadays most products are meant to have a short lifespan so consumers are forced to replace them more often, but if you shop around you might just find some quality made products that have lifetime guarantees. For some inspiration check out this article: 43 Companies With Lifetime Guarantees on The Penny Hoarder.

 

1. Reusable Produce Bags

Now that the reusable shopping bag is finally catching on it's time to take it a step further. Come on, I know you can handle it! Reusable produce bags are an easy way to buy loose fruit and veggies at the grocery store or farmer's market. On average only one plastic bag in every 200 is recycled and each year an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide (Source). This simple switch to reusable produce bags can significantly help reduce the number of plastic bags floating around the globe.

Our 4 Favourite Zero Waste Recipes

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Ohh the long lost art of making things from scratch! It sounds challenging and messy doesn't it? Well it doesn't really have to be either, and it can be a lot of fun and teach you some new skills. Actively reducing our kitchen waste has given us the opportunity to learn how to make a few things from scratch so that we can avoid the packaging and chemical additives. Here are our four most loved and used recipes:

Bread

DIRECTIONS
1. Start with ½ cup warm water in a bowl.
2. Stir in 1 tsp of sugar and 1 tbsp of yeast and let stand for 10 mins. Stir well.
3. Combine 1 ½ cup water, milk, and margarine in a sauce pan and warm until melted together.
4. Stir in 3 tbsp of sugar and salt then add to dissolved yeast.
5. Mix in 2 cups flour until smooth.
6. Stir in additional 4 cups to make a soft dough.
7. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth, 8 – 10 minutes.
8. Place in greased bowl and cover with a towel.
9. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
10. Punch down dough, put on floured board and let rest 15 mins.
11. Divide dough in half and shape into loafs.
12. Place in 2 greased pans.
13. Let rise 30 – 60 mins.
14. Bake at 350º F for approximately 30 mins.

INGREDIENTS
½ cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp active dry yeast

1 ½ cup water
½ cup milk or non-dairy milk
3 tbsp margarine or alternative
3 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
5 ½ - 6 ½ cups flour


Granola Bars

INGREDIENTS
1 ½ cups rolled oats
1 ¼ cups rice crisp cereal
¼ cup hemp seeds
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp chia seeds
½  tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp fine-grain sea salt
½ cup, plus 1 tbsp, brown rice syrup
¼  cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
1. Oil a 9-inch square cake pan. 
2. Combine the first 9 ingredients.  Stir well.
3. In a small pot, stir together the brown rice syrup and peanut butter.  Cook slowly over medium heat until the mixture thins and bubbles slightly.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
4. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the oat mixture.  Stir to combine fully.
5. Scrape all of the mixture into your prepared pan, spreading it out evenly. If needed, lightly wet your hands and press down on the mixture to even it out.
6. Place your bars in the freezer for 10 min.
7. Remove your bars from the pan and cut into 12 equal portions.
8. Store the bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Recipe from Oh She Glows recipe book by Angela Liddon


Soft Pretzels

DIRECTIONS

1. Dissolve dry yeast in warm water
2. Add remaining ingredients and knead until smooth and no longer sticky
3. Separate into 4 pieces and roll into logs then shape into pretzels
4. Combine hot water and baking soda in a bowl and dip each pretzel
5. Sprinkle with coarse salt
6. Bake at 425ºF for 15 minutes or until browned

INGREDIENTS

1 tsp dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
2 cup flour
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp sugar

4 cup hot water
½ cup baking soda

coarse salt

Recipe from Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson


Pizza

DIRECTIONS

Sauce:
1. Coarsely chop the onion and tomatoes and add to a blender
2. Add parsley, garlic cloves, tomato paste, and the cup of water to the blender and blend until smooth or until desired texture is reached
3. Add sauce to a pan and season with oregano, basil, salt, and pepper
4. Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 mins, stirring occasionally. Boil for longer if a thicker sauce is desired.

Dough:
1. Pour warm water into bowl
2. Stir in sugar and yeast and let stand until yeast bubbles, approx 10 mins
3. Add in salt and flour, mixing constantly to make a soft dough
4. Once mixed, slightly knead dough on a lightly floured surface to make a smooth ball
5. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with a towel.
6. Let sit for 1 hour to rise.
7. Once dough has risen, cut dough in half for 2 thin crust’s, or keep together for 1 thick crust.
8. Roll out dough and place onto a lightly greased 12” pizza pan, pressing the edges into the pan to spread it out
9. Add pizza sauce and favourite toppings
10. Bake at 450 F, for 12 – 15 mins
11. Let cool, slice, and enjoy. Don’t forget your napkin!

INGREDIENTS

Pizza Sauce:
3 – 4 large tomatoes
½ 5oz can of tomato paste ½ - 1 large onion
1 – 3 garlic cloves
1 cup water
Handful of fresh parsley
Fresh or dried basil to taste
Dried oregano to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Dough:
1 cup lukewarm water
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2.5 cups all purpose flour

Our Top 5 Favourite Parks to Visit Near Toronto

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Our team at A Greener Future loves to travel, experience different places, and most importantly, we love to be outside. 

With fall here and cooler weather on it's way, we’re all excited to check out some places to hike and enjoy the fall colours. We hate to say it, but our parks in Ontario are way underrated. While we wish there was enough time to visit every park there are just too many, but there are a few must sees. We’ve managed to narrow down our list down to our top 5 favourite parks near Toronto so you can enjoy the best of them before the snow flies.

 

5. Pinery Provincial Park

Two words – beautiful beach. Pinery Provincial Park has 10 km of sandy shores on Lake Huron.  Not only is it breathtaking, the park is a 2 hr 45 minute drive from Toronto. A day trip is worth it just to see the sunset.

 

4. Victoria Park

We have a history of hosting litter cleanups in Victoria Park located in Cobourg, so it’s close to our hearts. Cobourg is a fantastic little town filled with cute shops and restaurants. It's only an 1.5 hour drive from Toronto, which makes a day trip is easy. For those who love to camp, Victoria Park Campground allows you to park your trailer or pitch a tent! While you’re there, spend some time at Cobourg Beach. According to Buzzfeed, it’s one of the must-see beaches in Ontario, too.

 

3. Presqu'ile Provincial Park

Travel East along the 401 from Toronto and you'll come across Presqu'ile Park in Brighton. We have camped there as a team on two Love Your Lake treks and plan to return in the years to come. There are over 2.5 km of sandy beaches, and 16 km of trails along shorelines, woodlands and meadows. Plus, this park is a bird migration hotspot in the spring and fall. There's lots to see which is why we keep going back for more. You're welcome to join us on a camping litter cleanup during next summer's Love Your Lake program, we promise it's fun!

 

2. Bon Echo Provincial Park

It’s no surprise that Bon Echo Park is on our favourite list. It has amazing views, like the 100 metre high Mazinaw Rock. Plus, you can park your RV or opt for the scenic route and canoe into a campsite that offers a little more privacy. It takes a little over 3 hours to drive there from Toronto, but you won’t regret it.

 

1. Algonquin Provincial Park

Algonquin Provincial Park is A Greener Future's favourite park. It’s home to moose and bears, as well as a variety of waterways. Algonquin Park is the largest provincial park in Ontario. That should come as no surprise as Algonquin covers over 7,000 km of ground – that’s bigger than Prince Edward Island! Being a short 3 hour drive from Toronto, Algonquin Provincial Park is perfect for camping with your family and friends or just to take a day trip.