With school out for summer there are so many opportunities to go out and have fun through countless events that have been planned for the summer of 2019. One of the events that I found out about a few weeks ago is Plastic Free July. Where for the entire month of July millions of people across the globe try and reduce the amount of plastic they discard. There is also the Zero Waste Movement, similar to Plastic Free July, but much more general and long term, which turns waste reduction into a lifestyle.
I have decided to participate in both and I’m giving anyone who reads this the chance to observe how a middle-class family of four try to reduce most of their unnecessary waste. I will be writing weekly blog posts to show you our transition. This week we will be noting how much waste my family produces and brainstorming ways to reduce that waste.
As I am writing this I assume the majority of waste will be from paper tissues since I know me and my family use them on a daily basis, who knows how much paper 4 people use when they're cleaning up messes, drying their hands…etc.?
I honestly don't think we'll have too much plastic since most of our plastic comes from a handful of prepackaged products. If there is a large amount, I'm worried about how we'll change that spending habit since we've been doing it for years now.
When I started this project I thought my family and I would only have to make a few small changes here and there. After spending an hour going through our trash, writing down what I thought we could change, and actually counting how much waste we had I can say my initial thoughts differ from my current ones.
While I was digging through our trash, I found a surprisingly large amount of plastic. While I knew my family used some plastic, and that single-use plastic was probably going to be one of the main things we were going to have to cut down on, I still would never have thought that we throw out this amount of plastic in a single week.
You might have noticed that I found 113 paper tissues in our trash bin, which was mostly Bounty and Kleenex. I was disappointed but not really surprised at how much paper we threw out on a weekly basis since I'm one of the culprits who throws a lot of it out. I know that you can't recycle used tissue paper, but I should look into possibly composting it.
I found some glass bottles in our trash can, which is pretty sad since I'm sure most of my family knows these can and should be recycled. I can say I’m happy that we only used one piece of styrofoam since I remember that a lot of it was found during A Greener Future’s Love Your Lake clean ups.
Some ideas to reduce our large amount of paper waste would be to invest in a reusable towel to specifically reduce our paper waste, as mentioned before I should also look into composting the paper we do use. I have heard that my community centre uses old milk bags to make new mattress, another thing to look into. I know that Costco sells a lot of products in cardboard packaging, so we can try and buy more products like that. Next time our family goes shopping, I'll try and take more notes and pictures so you and I can see the options we have.
I’ve always considered my family okay when it comes to caring for the environment. We aren’t 100% eco-friendly, but we do make sure we don’t waste food, we recycle what we can, and buy items that we can reuse. For example, we went from using saran wrap to packing our lunches in reusable containers, we got a few tote bags to avoid using plastic bags at the store, and we donate our gently worn clothes to local charity. But in the end, it's clear to see that we still have a long way to go.
For our next step, we need to find a way to go zero waste and especially plastic-free for the rest of July! I'll update you next week!
"Hello! My name is Hibak and I’m a high school student who’s recently become pretty interested in our environment, especially after I found out from the Love your Lake program how much plastic and waste goes into Lake Ontario each year. I’m still pretty young but I would like to make a difference and help where I can!"