March 23, 2021 4 min read

In a more eco-friendly age, we have all become accustomed to recycling. Many of us feel that the more we fill up those bins, the more we are doing for the environment - but are we doing more harm than good?

 

In a more eco-friendly age, we have all become accustomed to recycling. Many of us feel that the more we fill up those bins, the more we are doing for the environment – but are we doing more harm than good?  Eco Expert Julia Grieve is here to help us decipher it all.

The Numbers

Each year Canadians will throw out over 3 million tons of plastic waste. And only 9 % of that gets recycled! What this adds up to is way too much in a landfill, even with recycling. Of this unnecessary waste, about 29,000 tonnes find their way into our natural environment.

 

Wish-Cycling

Now, we all want to do our part for the planet, but our desire to help can lead to wish-cycling. This is the process of tossing potentially unrecyclable items into your blue bin. This ends up costing time and money, and generating far more waste! Upwards of 25 per cent of the waste put in recycling bins is also rendered non-recyclable by contamination — either by food waste or other materialsThis is a super common mistake that so many of us make.

Single-stream recycling has increased the amount of different items that people put into recycling, but means that less of the items can actually be recycled!

Reduce and Reuse – Don’t Just Recycle!

We all know the saying _ Reduce, Reuse Recycle…but for some reason, anyone over the age of 12 just hears recycle. Today, we’re going to show you ways that we can give the other “Rs” a bit of love.

 

Reduce

This is the most important thing when it comes to making a positive ecological impact. It starts at the very beginning: when you buy a product. Here are some ways you can reduce the waste from your product purchases.

  1. Shop Bulk – Buying in bulk mitigates the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills and streamlines the transportation needed to deliver goods to market. This reduced transportation helps reduce CO2 emissions! Plus, buying in bulk is easy, affordable and has no excess packaging. This method works great for dry goods like grains or coffee. Just making that small change and getting rid of extra packaging will help lower the amount that goes in the blue bin.
  2. Know Your Options – Laundry detergent containers take up so much space in your blue bin and are a huge waste of plastic – But did you know there are laundry detergent sheets? Something like the “let’s be kind together” sheets go in the washing machine to clean your clothes, and the packaging is 100% recyclable. There are also products like Maker Bars, which taste amazing and have a wrapper that can go in the compost. Even toothpaste has alternative options, like tablets that you bite to activate. These tablets start to bubble when you brush and even come in a reusable jar. One of the best things we can do to reduce our carbon footprint is to know all of the options available to us.

For more sustainable products, check out well.ca

 

Reuse

This reduces the amount of waste that will need to be recycled or sent to landfills and incinerators. Reusing can be the impetus for so many fun DIY projects, or can get you discounts from your favourite brands. Lots of companies will reuse their own packaging, much like an old-school milk man! A brand-new company called “The Loopstore”, which works with brands to create reusable packaging, is launching in Canada. They drop off the reusable packaging and then pick it up from your porch.

Reusing can be done on an individual level too. For instance, there’s no reason to throw away a glass jar! Jars can be used for bulk food, storage, crafts, or anything else you desire!  It can take a glass bottle one million years to decompose, so it’s much better to reuse than to recycle in this case. If you’re having trouble getting the label off the jar, just add some baking soda and olive oil to warm soapy water, and you should be good to go in no time.

If there is any sticky residue left over on any of the jars, rub a mixture of equal amounts of baking soda and any cooking oil over the sticky part.  leave this mixture on for 30 minutes before scrubbing it off and rinsing the jars.  

Refill

You thought this last R would be “recycle”, didn’t you? In reality, the refill movement is growing rapidly, for anything from household cleaning products to beauty products. So many stores, like Eco and Amour are getting in on this new way of doing business. Eco and Amour is an incredible women-run Canadian company that will refill any jar that you have with laundry detergent, dish soap, bath soap and even candles! They are based in Toronto, but they ship all across Canada, using reusable packages that you send back with your own jars. Not only is this great for the earth, it’s downright fun!

Hopefully you’re feeling a bit more informed as to how to better reduce your waste, and maybe your blue bin will be a bit more empty from now on.


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