I have recently been inspired to live with more compassion and dedication for the environment. For me this has meant a revaluation of the daily waste I produce – and an attempt to live without any. My journey towards a ‘zero-waste’ lifestyle and creating my own zero-waste kit, is still in its beginning stages and there remain many areas for me to still work on.
My goal in this blog is to share with you the simple and easy ways that have helped me reduce my waste and plastic consumption. You would be surprised – by making some simple choices, you can substantially reduce your waste. I understand that environmental sustainability has to also be sustainable for you – but believe me there are ways to achieve both. Part of the problem is the wasteful culture we currently live in. I mean a society that has passively accepted a ‘disposable’ culture – I say passively because we are often unaware of the consequences of our consumption. By choosing, actively to live a lifestyle that is more mindful and respectful, I believe we can begin to slowly shape and shift our culture, even demanding and pressuring businesses to choose more sustainable ways.
I have just begun my journey and so far I can only call it an attempt at living zero-waste. But I want to share and document my experiences, the challenges I face and some of my tips here with you. In today’s blog I want to tell you about my little kit. I live in Toronto – a city that offers lots when it comes to food. So, naturally, I like to sit in a café, drink tea and have a pastry. But I want to do it guilt-free. So in my little bag, I make sure that I have the following: a reusable mug (glass or stainless), a sandwich bag that is made from organic cotton, a bamboo utensil kit (spoon, fork, knife, chopsticks & stainless straw), and my stainless steel Ecolunchbox that is 3 in 1 (I usually carry the little one for ice-cream).
If I get smoothies, coffee or tea, I use my own mug. Most cafes have a sit-in option so you don’t even have to worry. But, it’s inevitable that you’ll at one point be on the go, so you may want to invest in one and carry it with you. Even in cafes that have sit-in options, you’ll find that the straws are plastic. It’s so easy to pop yours out of your bag and avoid the plastic. I carry my sandwich bag so that I can get my breakfast sandwiches and pastries in it. This way I can avoid the paper wrappings (which often have plastic linings that are impossible to recycle). I also like to have gelato once in a while (everyday). I either ask for my ice-cream in a cone or use my tiny stainless steel container.
In terms of my eating-out lifestyle, I’ve realized there’s still one area I have to work on – my use of napkins – sure they’re not plastic and often biodegradable, but I’m overall against the ‘disposable’ culture. I think it’s important to take the extra steps and put in the little bit of effort to ensure we live in a culture that invests in items that aren’t just thrown out. So my next step is to add reusable organic cotton napkins to my kit. I assume I’ll need about seven or so and from there I can just add it to my weekly laundry.
I am not really into fast food, so if I go out, it’s mostly to restaurants. This makes things much easier because most places serve you food in proper plates and glasses. The one thing I have noticed is that when you ask for water, they often bring it with plastic straws – so now that I know this, I make sure to politely ask to not have a straw. I either use my own, or sip on my water without one (no biggie).
If this sounds overwhelming to you, it’s mainly because it’s new. I am a firm believer that we’re just conditioned to a convenience that isn’t serving us well. It promotes a laziness and carelessness that I really dislike. But also, plastic is filled with toxins and chemicals that are extremely harmful and dangerous to our health. By entering a different consciousness – one that respects you, your health and the environment, we begin to adapt to lifestyle choices that are simple, engaging, active and even liberating.
When I started this (and I am still in the beginning stages), I wanted to do it all together. I wanted to go from not even knowing the truth about our waste culture, to living zero-waste. My advice is taking it step by step and allowing yourself to adjust to each of those steps and one day you will have your own zero-waste kit.
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