My October Zero Waste Challenge - Week the First
Sunday October 1, 2023
It was a great day to start off the Zero Waste Challenge! Spent a good part of the day mulching up our brush pile. Why's this related to the Zero Waste Challenge? We used the brush that we had to make our own wood chips instead of buying them from the store, which would have resulted in several plastic bags. I'm calling this a Win!
We also did some grocery shopping which is like ground zero for Zero Waste. Being mindful from the purchase point of your products reduces the amount of garbage you bring into your home, and thus are responsible for. For example, I had a long discussion with my 6 year old in the cookie aisle re-explaining for the hundredth time why we don't buy Bear Paws (they're individually packaged for school snacks). Even though he's clearly aware why I don't buy them, I'll consider that demonstration for the benefit of other shoppers, haha. #ecoinfluencer
Garbage generated today:
- Tea bag (I take the tea out from the Tetley Tea bag; here's why)
- Milk bag corner when opening the bag. This bag is recyclable in my community, however teeny-tiny pieces of plastic aren't good for the machines, so I put them in the garbage.
- Grocery Store Receipt: Did you know that grocery store receipts aren't recyclable? It's true, and worse yet, they're bad for you.
Monday October 2, 2023
This would have been a zero waste day for me, except that I was the one who finished the cereal box this morning. Because cereal box liners are not recyclable in the Waterloo region, this is landfill. I am in the habit of using these liners as trash can liners for our home, but we actually go through cereal liners faster than we fill up our trash cans, so they often just get thrown out as-is.
Cereal is one of the products that my family consumes a lot of and I'm hyper aware of this waste. I'd love to have a hearty cooked breakfast every morning, but I also like sleep, so I don't see that trade off happening anytime in the near future.
I would LOVE if anyone had a solution for me on how to reduce cereal waste!
Garbage generated today:
- Tea bag
- Sticker backing paper. This may be my biggest source of waste this month. To ship my orders I have to use sticker labels, and I have been unable to find an affordable brand that uses recyclable or compostable sticker backings. Before starting Eco Shark, I didn't even realize this was an issue.
Tuesday October 3, 2023
Okay, today wasn't great.
Garbage generated today:
- Another day, another Tea bag - getting low on these and then I'm moving onto loose leaf - just using up what we already have have!
- I got snacky and finished off a bag of caramel popcorn (it's been on the go since August...we have a heat sealer so it was still good). I'd like to say this classified as family waste but TBH I ate at least 90% of the bag, so I'll accept responsibility.
- My snackiness continued and I polished off a bag of crackers. Like cereal liners, cracker liners are not recyclable in Waterloo. Again...I'd like to say family waste but I'm pretty sure most of the crackers were eaten by me.
Wednesday - Friday:
A few more orders came in over these days (yay!) and generated some more sticker liners (boo). I also continued my daily teag-bag-ripping-open, and ate some more fruit with stupid fruit stickers on them. All that went into the jar.
On Friday I found my way to the Bulk Barn and filled a 1 litre jar with loose leaf tea. Woot woot! I also remembered to say no receipt, but forgot when we went to Firehouse Subs for lunch (Note: Firehouse Subs use compostable take away containers but don't offer compost containers at their store, so I brought them home for my own bin).
We have a Roomba and it informed me that it needed a cleaning...and boy did it ever. With the amount of my hair wrapped up in the inner workings of that thing, it's a wonder I'm not completely bald. Anyway, while it was open I realized that we were overdue for replacing the filter, and was bummed out that I didn't do it in September, haha. But then I realized that the whole thing didn't need to be trashed! I used a box cutter to slice open the filter and put the black plastic into our recycling bin (Waterloo region recycles black plastic - many communities do not), so the amount of garbage that filter generated was essentially cut in half.
- 3 x tea bags
- 4 fruit stickers
- Roomba filter cartridge pieces
- Sticker liners
Saturday and Sunday
I spent most of Saturday at the St Jacobs Farmer's Market, so I managed not to generate any garbage that day, though at the end of the day another vendor was giving away their remaining handmade strawberry lemonades and I did accept a cup despite the single use plastic cup and lid 🙁. I did tell him to take back the straw though...so hopefully that counts for something?
The main thing I'd like to complain about today is that my family went to an Oktoberfest celebration in KW, and we bought schnitzel, apple strudel, and a Lebkuchenherzen cookie which were served on a paper plate with plastic single-use cutlery. We weren't able to finish all the dessert and everything was cleared into the garbage. I asked the server if they had green bin for the food waste and a recycling bin for the plastic, but was told they did not.
I cannot fathom why municipalities don't enforce composting and recycling at all businesses (and condos!). Composting is critical for so many reasons:
- Reduces resources used towards garbage collection
- Reduces up to 1/3 of landfill space across the country
- Rotting food in the landfill releases methane, which is 80x's the warming power of carbon dioxide
- Methane is flammable and can cause landfill fires
- Food is a valuable resource in regenerating our soil
- Rotting food releases water that trickles down the trash, mixing with chemicals and ultimate creates toxic leachate, which sinks into our ground water.
- 2 x grocery shopping receipts
- Plastic wrap from mushrooms
- Corner clipped from plastic milk bag
- Thermal stickers removed from reused mailers