Hello! I’m Brie – I’m a Zero Waste Educator at Chickpeace.
My journey started slowly about 4 years ago when my travels took me to countries that aren’t very good at hiding their waste, which led me to dig deeper into what we do differently or better to keep our country so clean. To my shock it was exactly that, we are good at hiding it. In reality due to our toxic consumption culture, countries have a more negative impact on the planet than developing countries.
Ever since then I have made it a personal mission to reduce my own environmental impact as affordably and reasonably as possible and to educate others on how to make better decisions for their health and the planet. Please remember this is a journey, be kind to yourself and others, no matter how far along you are on your personal journey you should always leave space for ‘slips’ – no one is perfect.
Below I have listed 4 tips that were fundamental in manifesting my own healthy, planet friendly lifestyle.
1. Get Informed.
The internet is a wonderful mystical place full of a wealth of knowledge... and misinformation. The best place to start is probably not by choosing the first link on google when you type in ‘how to be more environmentally friendly’. Although forums and blogs can be extremely helpful for ideas and motivation, you may overwhelm yourself (as I did) and you can become subject to ‘green washing’; when companies spend more time and effort in marketing that they are environmentally friendly than actively being friendly to the environment. Start small with informing yourself about what is happening in your own city or area. What items can you put in your recycling bin? What can’t you? What types of depots are there in your area/what do they recycle and what procedures do I have to follow so they accept my recyclables? Did you know your entire bin can be taken to a landfill if you don’t recycle properly. ☹
Do you really NEED that? Where does it come from? Where will it go when you’re finished with it?
This may come naturally after you educate yourself on the recycling strategies of your city. Many of you will find that A LOT of stuff isn’t recyclable and what IS recyclable is really annoying and time consuming to sort in order to do it properly (like washing every plastic bag, awkwardly trying to get all the residue off of your Styrofoam take-out containers, then draping them all over your apartment to dry so the depot can actually recycle it). In turn, this will hopefully make you more mindful when going to the grocery store and choosing the sizes/types of packaging your items come in. Bulk stores are a savior for this, just bring a container and fill it with however much you need! Nothing goes to the landfill. ☺
Secondly, shop at second hand stores and only when you NEED clothes. ‘Fast-fashion’ is so out of fashion and incredibly expensive (cheap fast fashion could have its own blog about ethics and environmental impact). Once you’re informed about where, how and what your favorite brands are made of, you might not be able to look at your favorite clothing store the same every again. Also, second-hand stores leave so much more room for creativity and uniqueness in your wardrobe not to mention it reduces the immense impact the fast-fashion industry has on the planet. I get it, sometimes buying new is rewarding and a treat – in these cases try to only choose local, ethically sourced clothing brands made out of fabrics that do not contain micro-plastics (e.g. Nylon & Polyester).
3. Say no to ‘single-use’ items.
If there is a single thing you take from this post, let it be this: There is no such thing as single use! Be prepared when you go out, get into the habit of bringing an on-the-go bag every time you leave your house or if you have a car leave a kit in it. Include cutlery, a container, reusable water bottle, a coffee mug & anything else you tend to need on a daily basis on the go. When ordering online; food delivery or parcels, request no plastic bags, straws, cutlery, un needed sauces or containers and when you do end up getting these things or forget to ask (I totally still forget this when I’m hangry and ordering take-out) do not throw them out!! Wash those containers, bags, straws, cutlery etc. and use them again, and again, and again because they are not single use!
I just typed that out in a fury – this is by far the easiest way to consciously lower your waste without sacrificing your beloved take-out Friday nights and you would be so surprised and happy to know that most restaurants applaud you for it and are so accommodating.
4. Conscious Food Consumption.
I am SO aware of how heated and controversial the topic of vegan/vegetarianism is, but it’s where my personal journey began so it would be inauthentic if I left it out. In short, the loss of biodiversity due to the growth of conventional agriculture (produce and meat) is one of the largest culprits in the deterioration of natural resources and one of the easiest and cheapest ways to make a huge impact is to reduce your meat consumption. Grow your own food when possible and buy local, package-less and organic when you’re able to.
5. Slow Simple Swaps.
Lastly, for the purpose of this blog post anyways. Anyone who is conscious or becoming conscious of their environmental impact inherently becomes more and more aware every day of the items in their household that will eventually find their way into a landfill. Before those items start to run low or fall apart, proactively do your research on where you can find a low or zero waste replacement item. There are so many zero or low waste options now for items like soaps, cleaning utensils, re-usable coffee filters, compostable garbage bags & baking items, the list goes on and on and on. This would be an appropriate time to use the wonderful world of the internet or find your closest zero waste store. Please, don’t assume that in one day you have to completely replace all of these items. That puts way too much stress on you, the environment and your wallet! Start window shopping, as your budget allows it and when the time comes to replace one of these items, invest in alternatives that are better for your health and the health of our planet.
Start conversations! Find your closest zero waste store and have a chat with the passionate people who fuel the industry, just like us at Chickpeace. I’m sure they would love to show you around and help you make the best choices to suite your lifestyle. Get ready to learn a whole new way of life and potentially create a network of like-minded friends all at the same time. It’s a win-win situation - a win for you and a win for the Earth. :)
Brieanne Fisette is taking Environmental Studies at Okanagan College, loves the planet, travelling the world and growing delicious food.