In our last blog post, we discussed the on-going debate of reusable vs disposable items, including but not limited to coffee cups, bags and containers. This debate is complex and multi-level (read our last blog post if you haven’t!) but there are some key items that the average ‘sustainable’ consumer should integrate into their everyday lives. Specifically, reusable items are pertinent when the alterative ends up in the landfill. Some items and practices are more easily integrated while others require some adjustment and alternative thought process. The most important thing to keep in mind is to make these adjustments at your own pace. Changing your entire lifestyle overnight is not going to set you up for long-term success. Some swaps are easier than others, and somethings work better for some people more then others. The key is to find what works best for you and your family.
- Items packaged in excessive plastic
When possible, opt for unpackage or limited packaging items. If this is not possible, try to choose items that have recyclable packaging – such as glass or metal (i.e. soup).
- Disposable cups
Whether you are going to your local coffee joint or getting a drink from the water cooler at work, bring a reusable cup or bottle. Do not use the little water cones and stop buying bottled water. The key to this is to only buy one (i.e. do not over consume reusable bottles/cups) and stick with it. It will become habitual. I promise.
- Single use cutlery
Bring a set of metal, reusable, cutlery with you wherever you go. This may sound a bit extreme or ridiculous but standard disposable cutlery goes directly to the landfill. Some restaurant establishments offer compostable cutlery as an alternative which is certainly better than their disposable counterparts, but reusable is the best option! They have convenient carriers for this now, that keep the cutlery contained, discrete and clean.
- Disposable straws
Along with your metal, reusable, cutlery, bring a long a straw! This falls into the same category as disposable cutlery, in the way of landfill garbage. Not recyclable in anyway, unless of course its paper or made of an alternative compostable material. However, reusable is the best option!
- Plastic lunch/freezer bags (i.e. Ziploc bags)
These are made of recyclable material, but not recyclable due to the ‘zipper’ locking component. A compostable option is to use a brown paper bag but a better, reusable option is a glass container or even a beeswax wrap – which brings me to the next point
- Plastic wrap
Best alternative that actually works – beeswax wraps! Buy these already!! I have brought them up in many of my blog posts because they are the best reusable & compostable product out there! Plastic wrap is terrible for the environment. It is used in access, unnecessarily, for convenience and goes directly into the landfill!
- Disposable or plastic food storage containers
This can be difficult if you get takeout or take leftovers home from a restaurant but try to eat at places that offer the compostable take away containers vs the Styrofoam versions. Spend your money where I counts. Your money is a vote towards something you believe in! If your favourite restaurant doesn’t offer compostable versions, maybe ask to speak with a manager to get that changed. Otherwise, at home – use glass or metal containers instead of plastic. Of course, if you already own plastic ones, do not throw them out just to buy glass or metal, use them until they’ve reached the end of their life.
- Liquid soaps
Although liquid soaps are enticing with their pretty packaging, unique scents and varying bottle designs, they utilize excessive plastic packaging (that is recyclable at its end of life) that use excessive natural resources. Rather then use liquid dish, laundry or shampoo soaps, try bar and powder soaps instead! You can even make your own with customized scents, etc and they come in limited to no packaging.
- Disposable plastic sponges/dish cloths/scrubber
Instead, use a natural sponge or loofah. Another options is a reusable silicone scrubbing pad. Although the silicone version is garbage at its end of life, it has a fairly small waste footprint comparatively and will last for years.
- Household Cleaners
Always an option to make your own for bulk items, or opt for ones that are in glass, metal or cardboard.
- Plastic Cutting Boards
These are a staple in my house, but they are not great for the environment. They are so convenient and do last an exceptionally long time due to their durability. This is one of the last items I have converted to a sustainable source because I feel bad throwing them out prematurely. If your plastic cutting boards are nearing their end of life, consider replacing them with a bamboo or wooden cutting board. Better for you and the environment!
- Fabric softener/dryer sheets
Organic wool dryer balls are a great alternative to these! The best part is that you can scent them with your favourite essential oil for a fresh smelling load of laundry, every time!
As we stated before, these changes are just suggestions that assist in making reducing your waste output footprint. These are some small changes that can get you started on the path of sustainability and really are just the ‘low hanging fruit’ on the sustainable lifestyle adjustment. Are there any items we missed or amazing alternatives? We would love to hear from you!
ABOUT US: Established in 1996, Davidson Environmental is a waste haulage company based out of St. Catharines, Ontario. In 1996, James Davidson, Owner & CEO of Davidson Environmental, decided to explore an area of waste management that would be new to the Niagara Region- recycling organic materials through composting. Starting with a trailer and 12 totes at a flower shop, James has built a company that today employs over 30 Niagara region residents and runs 24 hours a day. Although we are a diverse company serving all the waste needs of businesses of varying sizes, we have kept our primary focus on food waste organics. Our service area encompasses the Regions of Niagara, Hamilton, Haldimand, Halton, Oxford, Brant, Norfolk, Waterloo, Wellington, Perth, Huron, Grey, Middlesex, Lambton, Chatem-Kent, and Essex. We are also able to service Toronto by using cooperative services with another organics company. We have 10 trucks, capable of servicing any waste disposal need your business may have. Today, Davidson Environmental is proud to offer a variety of cost-effective, clean, simple and environmentally responsible methods of disposing of the waste produced by your business in Southern and South Western Ontario.