Here is all the single-use plastic waste we generated in April after our zero-waste challenge – enough to fill two plastic bags. I’m not sure if that’s a success or a failure. It’s a lot less than the average family but I thought we could do better.
A third of it was recyclable – hard plastics and tetra-paks. A third was soft plastic that London Drugs will take for recycling – although I’m skeptical of what they actually do with it. A third, sadly, went straight into the garbage.
We were pretty good at not buying new products with plastic packaging, but that didn’t stop us from using what we already had in the fridge and cupboards. Most of the plastic waste we generated was from food products we bought back in March.
Everytime we generated plastic waste, we tried hard to find a replacement that didn’t have plastic packaging. Some things we managed to find plastic-free alternatives for, but it was shocking how much of the grocery store is covered in plastic. If it wasn’t for Nada, we would have generated a lot more plastic waste.
The hardest plastic packaging to avoid:
- Anything medical, like Astrid’s medications
- Vitamin containers
- Cereal – we can get bulk granola but not cereal flakes
- Garden seedlings, fertilizers, and soil
- Tetra paks from juice and plant-based milks
- Frozen fruits and vegetables
- Convenience foods, like perogies and sausages
The only plastic that was easier than expected to avoid was take-out containers. A lot of food carts and restaurants in Vancouver use compostable packaging, and all of them will once the styrofoam ban comes into effect in April 2020.
I’m happy to see more cities jumping on the zero-waste bandwagon and banning plastic and styrofoam: Montreal ‘going to war’ against single-use plastic and styrofoam food containers.
But the biggest change has to come from grocery stores. They are the only ones with the power to influence suppliers. If some of the big chains in Canada (like Loblaws, Sobeys, or Overwaitea) made a concerted effort to cut down on plastic packaging, it would make a huge difference.
Now that our challenge is over, there are a few habits we picked up last month that we will continue with.
- Being conscious of plastic packaging and choosing products without plastic where possible.
- Doing more shopping at the zero-waste stores in Vancouver.
- Buying fresh vegetables that aren’t in plastic (like field cucumbers)
- Making our own pizza dough instead of buying it.
- Making own own hemp milk (see recipe below) instead of buying plant-based milks in tetra paks.