Welcome to HuffPost Canada’s (almost) daily guide to helping you pick up an easy, everyday ritual that can make your life a bit better, in a small but significant way.
Canadians are stressed out, anxious, and are feeling disconnected from each other. Every Monday through Friday, we’ll share a tiny tip to help you feel good. We’ve got your back.
Today’s habit: Reduce your waste.
For whenever you’re feeling: Like you want to prevent the planet from becoming a total wasteland.
What it is: We all know that the environment is going through a crisis right now thanks to climate change. And it can be overwhelming to think about how we can help prevent the Earth and its inhabitants from being destroyed.
Firstly, just breathe. Secondly, recognize that we can’t do it all. Thirdly, there are small but not insignificant things we can do. Mainly: reduce our waste.
How it can help: The best way to reduce your waste is to avoid it in the first place.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes on its website: “Making a new product requires a lot of materials and energy — raw materials must be extracted from the earth, and the product must be fabricated then transported to wherever it will be sold. As a result, reduction and reuse are the most effective ways you can save natural resources, protect the environment, and save money.”
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Here are some simple and effective ways to reduce waste inside and outside of your home:
1. Buy used
Check out your local Value Village, thrift store, vintage shop, consignment, and second-hand store. You can find almost anything used, including adult and children’s clothing, toys, kitchenware and cookware, electrical equipment, books and DVDs, furniture, and even sports equipment. Second-hand stores will make sure the donated items are gently used and in working order.
2. Buy products that use the least amount of packaging possible
And avoid products that are packaged in plastic that can’t be recycled.
Some companies are really great at minimizing the packaging used for their products. Unwrapped Life, a company that sells conditioner and shampoo bars, doesn’t use plastic bottles for its products. And Canadian beauty company Lush also offers many unpackaged options for their bath and body products in an effort to cut down on waste.
3. Cut down on single-use items
Do you hit up your local coffee shop every day for a cup of brew? Did you know you can’t recycle most coffee cups? According to CBC News, Canadians used about 1.5 billion disposable coffee cups in 2010. That’s the equivalent to more than half a million trees.
According to The Tyee, 2.6 million disposable cups a week get thrown in Vancouver’s garbages.
WATCH: How to make your coffee more planet friendly. Story continues below.
We’re not telling you to stop drinking coffee but a simple solution is to get yourself a reusable cup or mug (at your local second-hand store, natch) and you will feel good that you’re not contributing to the planet’s destruction.
Similarly, when you’re getting takeout, don’t pick up those plastic forks and spoons; bring your own cutlery to work.
4. Maintain and repair
Do you find yourself buying new winter boots every year because they start leaking, or perhaps your coat’s zipper is starting to break? Don’t buy the new boots. And definitely don’t buy a new coat (they’re so expensive!).
If you’re using something regularly, like the aforementioned coat and boots (but this can also apply to things like clothes, appliances, or a vehicle), remember to maintain and repair them so you don’t have to keep replacing them, thus adding more trash to the landfill.
Learn some basic sewing skills to hem your pants or fix that tear, or if you can afford it, take things in need of repair to a shop so they’ll be just like new.
5. Join online trade groups
Facebook has many trade groups, such as Palz Trading Zone and its various offshoots, and your neighbourhood probably also has a buy-and-sell Facebook group.
So if you’re looking to get rid of something you don’t use anymore, put it up for sale or for trade online, and someone will most certainly want it.
This keeps trash out of the landfill, and you could end up with something you need, too.
Where you can do it: You can reduce your waste footprint practically anywhere, from the home, to the office, to your weekly dinner date.
How it makes us feel: Although we feel like our contributions are small, we know they count for something. Every little bit helps.
And that’s your tip of the day.
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