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I’m Going Zero-Waste—Here’s How

“Climate change” is a word that elicits one of two responses. You might be in the mindset that climate change is a fear-mongering word made up to scare you into a vegan diet. In that case, this article won’t be for you. Or, if you’re like me, you recognize the environmental damage we’ve done to our earth, and want to at least attempt to reconstruct the irrevocable damage in any way possible. 

In my personal life, I’ve made active changes to get closer and closer to being zero-waste. I totally recognize my privilege here in being able to go more zero-waste—not everyone has access to reusable products, let alone the financial means to buy them. It’s sad to say that financial instability often means buying unsustainable products. But here are a few ways you may be able to start your zero-waste journey. 

Stop Buying Fast Fashion

Lexico.com defines fast fashion as “inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.” Western graduate, story-teller and creator of Polemical Zine, Rebecca McLaren recently wrote an amazing article on the effects of fast fashion. McLaren writes: “We live in a time where it is cheaper to buy something new than repair something old, and mass retailers are only capitalizing on our excessive consumption patterns.” Reducing the amount we support fast fashion is one of the more cost-effective ways to support going zero-waste.

Making Makeup Removal Sustainable

I recently bought some reusable cotton wipes, and they have changed my life. Every time I would use a cotton pad to remove my makeup only to immediately chuck it in the garbage causes me physical anguish. These cotton pads are so much better for the environment and, more selfishly, a lot softer on your skin. All you need to do is throw them in the washing machine, and you’ve got yourself more fresh cotton pads without even going to the store! Now I make a conscious effort to ask myself a question every time I notice myself immediately throwing out something: is there a more sustainable way to do this?

Safety Razors!

Is there a more sustainable way to shave? YES! And, again selfishly, this change will give you a closer shave than any Gillette product ever could. I made the change to a safety razor about two years ago. Safety razors can seem extremely intimidating at first, but I promise you it’s not as scary as it seems. YouTuber Living The Life You Love made an awesome video to help you get started on your safety razor journey. These razors are making waves in the zero-waste movement, and are becoming more and more accessible like these ones from eco&basics

Jars and Bottles

Another thing I noticed that I was using a lot of was coffee cups. Every time I would spontaneously go to Starbucks, I wouldn’t have my reusable cup on me. Of course, their cups are recyclable but, again, a part of me dies every time I use a single-use product. Similarly, as I started to buy more and more in bulk, I was using a lot of little plastic bags to weigh my products. So, I started to keep a jar on me or in my car. Mason jars are perfect for this; you can put your coffee in them and lid them up. And conveniently, Bulk Barn has started a program where you can bring your own jars to fill up your bulk items! All you have to do is bring your jar, get the cashier to weigh it and fill it up! I’ve also been eyeing this collapsible coffee cup to throw in my bag—my birthday is coming up, if you catch my drift…

Reduce Your Meat Consumption!

As previously mentioned, when some people hear the words “climate change,” they may think of diehard vegans. Veganism is absolutely great for the environment, and making the complete lifestyle change will be more sustainable for our planet’s future. But you don’t have to quit meat cold turkey—get it? It’s easy to make the switch to a less meat in your lifestyle. According to meatlessmonday.com implementing “Meatless Mondays” into your lifestyle can:

  • Livestock production creates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector—all the cars, trucks, planes and trains in the world.

  • Livestock production uses 75% of the earth’s agricultural land.

  • Producing ONE quarter-pound beef burger uses 425 gallons of water—enough water to fill 10 bathtubs.

  • Producing ONE quarter-pound beef burger uses up enough energy to power an iPhone for 6 months.

  • Skipping one serving of beef every Monday for a year saves the equivalent emissions to driving 348 miles in a car.

Educate Yourself

At my workplace, we have chosen to make our products as sustainable as possible. We support local businesses, have biodegradable everything and have made an effort to start a compost system in the building. My managers told us to let our customers know that when they purchase a coffee from us, they support a sustainable workplace. I absolutely LOVE telling our customers about how all of our products are Canadian and that all of our spoons, cups and straws, etc. are biodegradable. After starting to work here, I’ve made more of an effort to ask questions about the businesses I’m supporting. When I buy products online, I go to the company’s FAQ to see if their business is sustainable. If I can’t find anything on their website, I will personally message the company! 

There you have it. A few changes that I am committed to, but have made my lifestyle a lot more sustainable and have made me feel like I’m actually contributing to a healthier self and an even healthier planet.

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Shauna Ruby Valchuk is HCW's 2019-20 Editor-in-Chief. She's in her fifth year studying Creative Writing, English, Language and Literature. Currently, she is working on her creative non-fiction thesis. She writes in her off days and publishes it on her on days and hopes to one day make money doing the stuff she loves surrounded by as many cats as legally allowed. 
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