My less-than-perfect approach to zero waste

My less-than-perfect approach to zero waste

Today, March 30th is the 2nd International Day of Zero Waste, and so I thought I'd share my own journey to reduce waste.

I’m sure as a lot of you, I have seen or read about people who have tackled the zero-waste movement with gusto, and can proudly sport a pea-sized bag of garbage after 6 months of living with 3 kids, two pets and a partner.

I am not one of them.

I have gone through a series of emotions: shame, guilt and even anger. I mean can’t they make pre-made snacks with environmentally-friendly packaging? And why serve fast food in compostable containers when there’s no compost bins on the premises?! There may be some environmentally sound choices out there that tick all the boxes, but they are not what is offered easily in a hurried 15-minute dash through the grocery store or take-out line.

With time, I decided to focus on what I was doing right, instead of the millions of things I thought I was doing wrong. 

At B Factory, we brought in a worm composter to help use up our excess cardboard that doesn't get recycled. We also compost our fruit and vegetable waste here. We try to create products that will leave little or no waste, both in its use and in the production of it.

At home, I looked at my small wins. Using cloth napkins. Not using plastic wrap. Composting regularly. Storing food in glass containers. Buying local produce and other items second-hand.

In today’s Western world, reducing waste is an uphill battle. Governments are not making the difficult choices, corporations will make greener options only when forced, and the consumer is left cleaning up the mess. Now, I know that is a gross generalization, and there are those that break that stereotype. Yet, there is still quite a bit of truth in those stereotypes.

So what can we do?

As I tell my customers, we can’t all do everything, but we all can do something.

Why not start there? If your neighbour is making homemade kombucha and buys in bulk, maybe your participation is supporting a non-profit, and buying certain items second-hand. Or maybe you use reusable paper towels. The point is, everyone can find one actionable item that makes a positive change to their lifestyle. My tip is: start small. Add one thing, like swap out one single use item for a reusable one. Start there, and then when you’re comfortable, add another.

If we all do a little bit, it’s amazing the power of many doing little actions over time. Vote. Contact your government. Raise your voice. Support local businesses and green companies. And above all, be kind to yourself and others on this journey.

We all will have good days and bad days, but together we will enact change.

My latest additions? I learned how to make homemade pizza dough, and homemade honey granola. They’re incredibly fast, which suits our schedule, and reduces store bought packaging.

What are your favourite waste-saving actions? Add your thoughts in the comments below.

Some useful links to get you started:

UN Environment Program International Day of Zero Waste

Waste Free Planet and on Instagram

Plastic Free July

Association Québecoise Zéro Déchet

The Zero Waste Chef


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