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.


"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


"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 #1 - Hibak Warsame

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.

The Results:

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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!"

7 Ways Small Businesses can Eliminate Plastic Waste

If your business is a restaurant consider switching to paper or stainless steel straws! Photo by  Danielle MacInnes  on  Unsplash

If your business is a restaurant consider switching to paper or stainless steel straws! Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Guest Blog Post: Cloe Matheson

It’s more important than ever that businesses make the conscious effort to eliminate their plastic waste.  Large companies aren’t the only ones contributing to the world’s plastic problem – each small business can make a difference when it comes to plastic waste.

Cutting plastic usage from your business isn’t as challenging as many seem to think: you just have to rethink some usual ways of doing things.  Here are seven simple ways your business can eliminate its plastic waste:

Conduct a Waste Audit 

Conducting a waste audit is the first step to reducing plastic waste in your workspace.  A waste audit will give you a better understanding of the types and volume of plastic waste your office is producing.  This data will provide a clear focus for your reduction efforts and help you to determine the most effective course of action.

Photo by  Charles Koh  on  Unsplash

Photo by Charles Koh on Unsplash

Encourage the Use of Reusable Items

Your workspace shouldn’t need to use single-use plastic cups, bags, plates and cutlery.  If you haven’t already, encourage employees to use reusable items – think ceramic mugs, stainless steel water bottles and snack bags.  You could even put an official ban on single-use plastic in your office to ensure employees follow through with this.

Install a Water-Cooler

Single-use plastic bottles account for a vast amount of pollution worldwide.  To eliminate the use of plastic water bottles in your workplace, install a water cooler so that staff can refill their drinking glasses and reusable water-bottles with fresh water throughout the day. Want an even better solution? Consider putting a water filter on your kitchen tap if you have one.

Photo by  Mike Kenneally  on  Unsplash

Reduce Plastic in Office Coffee & Tea

Tea and coffee production create a lot of plastic waste, but you can take simple steps to minimize the waste generated in your workplace.  For example, most tea bags contain plastic.  Enjoy a plastic-free brew of loose-leaf tea, or support tea bag brands that avoid using plastic.  If you’re a coffee lover, find brands that offer coffee-beans in plastic-free packaging, or purchase in bulk. Don’t forget to compost the leftover leaves and coffee grinds!

Ask that Suppliers Use Less Plastic 

Suppliers often use a considerable amount of unnecessary packing when delivering goods to businesses. But you don’t have to let this be the norm in your company. If you are serious about becoming a plastic-free company, write a formal letter to your supplier expressing your concerns.  Find out if they can supply alternative products that eliminate plastic waste.  You could also ask if they can deliver goods with less wrapping and packing.  By speaking up about this, you may even cause a ripple effect of positive change amongst other suppliers and companies.

Encourage Staff to Bring Homemade Lunches

Large amounts of plastic waste often come from staff lunches, such as sandwich packaging and ready-made meals. Having proper food preparation and storage facilities in your office – such as high-quality, eco-friendly ovens, microwave ovens, and refrigerators – will enable staff to bring in food more often, and save them from going out and bringing back lunches wrapped in single-use packaging. Encourage staff to use these facilities as often as possible to reduce the waste generated in your workplace.

Implement Strict Recycling Rules

Even with the best efforts, your company may generate some plastic waste – which is why it’s so important to have strict recycling methods in place.  Ensure all your staff members understand the recycling rules in your office.  You could try sticking up some recycling posters as a simple reminder of the importance of recycling.

Cloe Matheson – Cloe is a freelance writer from Dunedin, New Zealand who is an advocate of a green, healthy lifestyle. She loves writing articles to inspire and motivate her readers, and has penned articles for local companies in New Zealand including the truck company, Fuso. You can check out more of her published work on Tumblr.