How it all started
If you ask my family and friends back East to describe me when I was younger in one word, they would say green, Lyne the green girl.
In 1995, I studied ecological waste management. I worked for a Montreal Ecosociety and my job was to help businesses on Mont-Royal street reduce their waste. I was mostly introducing recycling as it was a new concept for everyone. If you ask my family and friend at that time they would say: green with a grunt, as they were resisting recycling.
Many years later, I saw a video of a mother holding a glass jar, claiming this was the family garbage for one year. Uh…I was completely puzzled. How could this even BE possible? The woman didn’t inspire me that day but a zero waste seed stayed in me. It was now me, the green girl, resisting a new concept.
Later, I saw many disturbing videos about tons of plastic floating in the ocean, animals dying, filled with or caught up in plastic, beaches covered in plastic. I cried. I felt how big the problem was. I HAD to have less plastic in my family life. I decided to start the zero waste journey along with creating this blog. This is where the fun began!
WHAT IS ZERO WASTE?
Zero Waste is rethinking the way we do things. Yep! That’s it!
Zero Waste is about rethinking the way we do things and to do so you apply the 5R’s: Refuse- Reduce-Reuse-Recycle-Rot and focus on the first 3.
Zero waste is a choice, a choice to REFUSE single-use plastic, to buy only what you need (REDUCE), to repair and borrow more (REUSE), to choose second hand over new (REUSE AND REDUCE) and to go for local resources (Check out the map of local resources). What resources in Nelson can help you reduce your waste? Which products do you need to swap for more sustainable ones in your home?
Zero waste is a philosophy, a lifestyle, and a REWARDING journey. Zero Waste is not about getting it right all the time. It’s more about trying the best you can a change at the time.
Which habits do you need to change? I know this one is hard! Which mindsets do you need to change? This one is fun! Which recipes can you make to buy fewer products? This one is so empowering!
I started zero waste to have less plastic in my family life and now I also have better health, less spending, and new skills. So rewarding!
HOW TO START
First: pay attention to what you already have in your house and what you (and your family) bring in. Take a look at what’s inside your garbage and recycling bins. Recycle bin? Yep! Start from there. No guilt. Just start by acknowledging what are your habits of buying.
Then…remember the 5R’s.
Refuse is the most important one. How can you prevent the garbage from coming into your life in the first place? Practice by refusing single-use plastic offered to you. Practice saying: no, thank you! Before buying ask yourself: do I really need it? For what you do need, find out where you can borrow it, rent it, buy it second hand or wait for a good quality item.
Create YOUR kit
Have a kit corresponding to your daily habits. No need to go and buy a perfect & trendy zero waste kit; use what you have in your house. Don’t buy a metal straw if you don’t even use straws in the first place. It’s crazy how I cut down garbage by having this very light kit in my backpack every day that fits my daily habits:
- My little mug for delicious chicory chaï; I don’t use it every day but it’s always ready ; )
- A reusable water bottle to stay hydrated all day;
- A beeswax wrapping I made, I use it in case I have a craving for a little square, scone or muffin. I also use it to bring back compostable items back home after lunch. So easy to clean and make.
- A container so that I can get lunch to go or a snack for the always hungry little one or a last-minute bulk shopping.
- One or two fabric shopping bags.
Swap IT UP
Find sustainable alternatives to what you throw out. Remember what was in your garbage? ie: coffee cup; get a mug, tons of plastic wrapping from food; try bulk. As soon as you finish a product like toothpaste, shampoo bottles, deodorant, cleaning product, mascara, swap it for a non-plastic option or learn how to make it.
Bring your own bags, mugs. Bring your own container for lunch to go. Only one store refused my containers in Nelson, ALL the others were more than happy to use them, even for my Naan bread at Baba’s. On my shopping list, I write a little c (for a container) before all the items I know I can bring a container to buy in bulk (see what’s available in Nelson). I then bring what I exactly need as containers for this shop. Seriously, just doing that will cut down a lot of the garbage and recycling.
When a product is done, decide if you really need it. If yes, learn how to make it. Check out the DIY recipes. I will post the recipes that worked for me. I now make my deodorant, cleaning products, lip balm, beeswax wraps, hemp heart milk and soon I will learn how to make my mascara. Very satisfying! Less stuff to buy plus you know exactly what is in your products with the smell you want. You don’t need a lot of ingredients. Host a DIY dinner, invite friends and try 2-3 recipes.
Start a COMPOST or join a neighbour’s
In Canada, 1/3 of household garbage is food waste and wrapping. Find a friend or a neighbour who composts and follow their rules, build community! You don’t know what to do with the compost after? Post it on the Facebook group, surely someone will be delighted.
Resources we should LOVE in the Community of the Kootenays.
Connect with the community. Use the Slimmer Waste map to gain a better knowledge of what you can do in Nelson like the toy library (free toys to borrow), Harvest rescue (free local food you pick), AFKO (dishes available for events by donation), local feminine reusable pads made in Winlaw. Join the Zero Waste Nelson Facebook group and ask all the questions you need to and share your discovery, challenges and successes.
It is EASIER than you think!
I would love to inspire you to join the ride. You are not alone. I will do my best to find more resources and recipes. In my family, Zero Waste is a lifestyle to stay and we will only get better and better at it, one step at a time.
We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly. – Anne Marie Bonneau aka The Zero Waste Chef.
Happy journey to you all!