Zero Waste

Plastic Free July Challenge Post #3 - Hibak Warsame

After seeing the improvements my family made on the second week of our waste reduction challenge, I was hoping that this week we would have even better results, or that the amount of waste we created would be similar to last weeks. Now, I still think the amount of trash we're creating is a lot better than before, but I can’t say I’m not disappointed that we didn’t make much improvement this week. Here are the results:

Pieces: Week 1: 178 — Week 2: 35 — Week 3: 52

Pieces: Week 1: 178 — Week 2: 35 — Week 3: 52

Our haul from Costco.

Our haul from Costco.

Ever feel like your family has been ignoring you? Since the beginning of July, I’ve been asking my siblings to eat the stuff we bought at the grocery store or things that we made at home instead of going out, to compost tissues and more. But I just saw my sister use a paper towel has a plate then throw it in the trash! And yesterday I saw my brother come home with two bags of Dorito chips and a soda can! I know that my mom supports me, when we go shopping we buy products like a bunch of tomatoes in a recyclable cardboard box, but it’s tiring to continuously remind my siblings to throw their trash in the right bin. I get that they’re young, that they probably don't understand why I want to do this so much, and don't care about this whole plastic-free July thing has much has I do, but it's frustrating.

Last week I mentioned that we bought one big tub of ice cream since it would be less waste than buying a bunch of plastic wrapped popsicles. Which worked for a while, until some of my family members came to visit and we ended up buying a box of freezies, this is why I ended up counting 21 plastic food wrappers instead of what would have been about 7.

Like I mentioned before, my mom does support the idea of us reducing the amount of waste we produce, so when we went grocery shopping at Costco for a few things our goals were to try our best to choose products that could be recycled in our region, that don't produce waste at all, or that we could find without plastic. We brought a Costco tote bag and got a box of tomatoes, plastic-covered bananas and toilet paper, two plastic jugs (one of soap and maple syrup that we buy in bulk), and a box of oatmeal.

After a bit of research and going through the Durham region waste app I was reassured that most of the stuff we bought was recyclable, it was hard to find toilet paper or bananas without plastic wrapping at Costco though. I didn’t want to ask my mom to go to a completely different store for plastic-free bananas and toilet paper, so we ended up getting them anyway.

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Personally, I don't think we're doing a bad job reducing our waste for plastic-free July, but I also don't think we're doing that much better either. Some changes I could make: hiding our paper towel and only giving them out when needed. That way my family could get used to using the cloth we bought instead of waiting for them to break the habit of using the Bounty. I got the idea not too long ago to tape a list of what goes in the garbage, recycling, compost and all of the garbage cans in the house so people can tell if their trash is going in the right can or not, plus that could also be useful for guests.


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"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!"

Plastic Free July Challenge Post #2 - Hibak Warsame

I talked to my family about going zero waste and we all agreed that we obviously had to make a few changes. When brainstorming and researching some solutions we decided to start by buying a reusable cup to use when we go out (mostly used by me), then we did some research surrounding what we can and can’t put in our recycling and compost bins. We also tried to avoid purchasing products in unnecessary amounts of plastic when we went shopping, and if we had to, we tried to purchase plastic that we could reuse or recycle.

This week I made sure to note the trash me and my family created when we went out of the house as well. Before garbage day I went through all of our trash and here are the results:

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We swapped paper towel for a reusable towel.

We swapped paper towel for a reusable towel.

The most noticeable difference between this week and last week’s garbage was that my family only used about 16 paper towels, which is a pretty big difference compared to last week’s 113. I decided to count how many we were using even if they were going in the compost just to track our progress. We recently bought some cloths for us to dry our hands and our dishes, and to clean messes, so it's nice to know those were being used. If we did use paper towels or tissues, then we made sure to at least put them into the compost, where they belong. 

Garbage day, surprisingly, gets a lot easier when you know exactly which bin something is supposed to go in, I've been using the Durham Region Waste app for a few days and it does make things a lot easier.

I did find a bit of plastic food wrapping in our trash, mostly popsicle wrappers, butter, Doritos and yogurt. We went shopping for some veggies and decided to avoid the plastic bags they offered us at the store, and we also got one big tub of ice cream instead of individually wrapped popsicles, so hopefully, that will diminish the amount of plastic food wrapping we accumulate for small snacks.

While that's the garbage counted at home, when we go out our family still does make waste. This week I went to watch a movie with my friends and I realized that my ticket was going to be waste, so I bought it online instead and convinced my family to do the same when they went to go see a movie.

I also ended up getting a plastic cup when I went to A&W, so I bought one of Starbucks’ $3 reusable cups for me and my family to use. I've been keeping it in my bag ever since just to make sure I don't forget it! 

While I am happy that my family is creating less waste, I feel like the main reason is that my family isn't around the house as much in the summer. With everyone in my household working or in summer camp, we’re not really at home often enough to produce waste a large amount of waste. But I do hope that with some of our changes, our family can reduce the amount of waste we create even when we are home.

Here are both tables beside each other so you can see the big difference between this week and last week.

Week 1: Total = 178 pieces

Week 1: Total = 178 pieces

Week 2: Total = 35 pieces

Week 2: Total = 35 pieces


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"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!"

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.