Tag Archives: zero waste

Zero waste Challenge – No Single-Use Plastic

India - Cochin

For the month of April, we’re taking a zero waste challenge and trying to avoid all single-use plastics.

That means no plastic take-out containers, no straws, no bags of cereal, no plastic-wrapped english cucumbers, and the list goes on.

Plastic Wrapped Carrots

That might sound impossible, but we’re lucky to have some good resources to help. In addition to bulk bins at conventional grocery stores, Vancouver has 2 amazing zero-waste shopping options Nada and the Soap Dispensary, where we can fill reusable containers with food and other household products.

Nada Shopping

To kick off the month, I purchased a nice safety razor to replace the standard 5-blade Gillette and Schick ones I’ve used in the past (inspired by this AOC tweet). Safety razors are a little trickier to use, but have zero plastic and are cheaper to buy blades for.

We also had a successful zero-plastic pizza dinner on Sunday night. The biggest challenges were the crust and cheese. Normally we buy pizza crusts and Daiya cheese in plastic packaging. But we found Daiya cheese at Nada and made the crust from scratch, which was surprisingly easy and fun even if a bit more time consuming.

Our hope is that by being conscious of our plastic use this month, and striving for zero, we will learn new ways of reducing it once the challenge is over (like making pizza dough from scratch). It also gets us ready for a future when single-use plastics are no longer commonplace. There’s a growing movement worldwide to reduce our use of throwaway plastics. Here are some examples:

  • Europe has agreed to ban single-use plastics by 2021.
  • The NDP has promised to get rid of single-use plastics in Canada by 2022 if elected.
  • Vancouver’s straw ban goes into effect on June 1, 2019, with other single-use plastics targeted in coming years.
  • California, New York, and Hawaii are leading the charge in the USA with state-wide plastic bag and straw bans.

Nada – Early Sneak Peek Review

Nada Grocery Soft Launch
Vancouver’s zero waste grocery store, Nada, officially opens on Wednesday June 20. As an early supporter and crowd-funder, I got to do some shopping and help test out their systems at a soft launch yesterday.

The store is roomy with a clean, modern aesthetic. It speaks a lot to the philosophy of the company that they were conscious during construction to minimize their footprint, which you can read all about in their blog series Building A Low-Impact Grocery Store.

I’m really impressed and can’t wait to do more shopping at Nada.

How does it work?

Nada is a packaging-free grocery store. You bring your own containers and pay for everything by weight. When you enter the store, you go to a self-serve weigh station to tag your jars and containers. It’s really simple. They have these fancy NFC stickers (dishwasher safe) that you stick to the bottom of your containers and it remembers the empty weight of the container. You then wander around the store, filling your containers with food, and pay at the front. When you pay, they scan the NFC stickers, weigh your stuff, and automatically subtract the weight of the empty container so you only pay for what you bought. The bins all have numbers on them, but you don’t have to write them down. They figure that out on checkout. Read more here.

Nada

Seconds after paying for your order, you’ll get an email with the receipt. A lot of stores do this now, which I appreciate. But I was really amused to read the product descriptions that Nada has included in theirs, like: “Hummus is where the heart is, but these versatile beans are good for a falafel lot more” and “Don’t like legumes? You’ve now bean blacklisted.”

Nada Receipt

I recommend bringing a bunch of wide mouthed jars (Adams peanut butter and Vega protein powder are my favourites) plus some bags (cloth or plastic) to do your shopping with. The jars can be tagged with NFC stickers the first time you buy something and then reused on future shopping trips. With the bags you can weigh them if you want, but the weight is often so negligible it doesn’t make a difference.

Seeds

What do they carry?

They didn’t have everything setup on Saturday, but they already had a good selection of nuts, beans, grains, dried fruit, baking supplies, loose-leaf teas, and granola available. Brianne showed me a stack of labels 6 inches thick of products that still need to be put out, so expect a lot more. They also had liquid containers with oils and vinegars, plus liquid soaps. The fridges will have produce and the freezers will have frozen fruit, perogies, and other frozen products they can source without packaging.

Loose Leaf Teas

It’s worth noting that although there are a lot of gluten-free products in the store, nothing is labelled as such because they can’t guarantee a customer hasn’t contaminated it, even though every bin has its own scoop.

This sounds like the Soap Dispensary

Nada is a lot like the Soap Dispensary, one of my favourite shops on Main Street. While the Soap Dispensary focuses on cleaning and beauty products, but also has food in their recently expanded store, Nada will focus on food with some cleaning products. The other big difference is the Soap Dispensary does all the filling for you where Nada is self-serve. Hopefully this will eliminate the long waits that seem to plague the Soap Dispensary every time I visit. There also seems to be a some slight difference in philosophy between the two stores. Both stores do a great job reducing waste by helping consumers refill containers, but it seems like Nada is taking a harder line against plastic with nothing plastic for sale in the store.

Hours and Location

Nada is located on Broadway at Fraser Street, right next to a B-line stop. There aren’t any bike racks in front of the store, but there are two big racks just around the corner on Fraser Street.

Starting on Wednesday June 20, they’ll be open 7-days a week from 10am – 7pm.

Happy zero-waste shopping everyone.

New Parent Adventures: Cloth Diaper Service

Saucy Bottoms Supplies
Our cloth diaper service has been invaluable. I’m not sure what we would do without it. None of the alternatives are very appealing – washing cloth diapers ourselves sounds exhausting (especially as we don’t have ensuite laundry) but creating mountains of garbage with disposable diapers would cause more guilt than we could handle.

Thankfully there are cloth diaper services in almost every city. We chose to go with a Vancouver company called Saucy Bottoms. We’ve been super happy with them and would recommend them to anyone in the Greater Vancouver area.

Twice a week they pick up our dirty diapers and drop off a fresh load of cotton diapers, cloth wipes, and fleece soakers. We are encouraged to use as many diapers as we need each week (the cost is a fixed $30/week no matter how many we use). Yesterday’s drop off of new supplies (shown in the picture at the top) had 65 new diapers and 60 cloth wipes. So we’re probably going through 15-20 diapers per day right now. Generally, they replace the diapers at the same rate as we use them, but if we ever come close to running out (which has happened once) we just call them and they drop off more.

Diaper Shells

In addition to the cloth diapers, Saucy Bottoms gave us six water-proof outer shells. We’re responsible for cleaning them. They’re usually good for several changes before some poop leaks onto them. Then we wash them by hand or in the washing machine and let them air dry before using them again.

When we signed up for the diaper service, back in May before our daughter was born, the Saucy Bottoms owner dropped off our first batch of cloth diapers and gave us a 30-minute tutorial to how to use them. She also has a series of instructional videos on her website (Saucy School) showing how to use their diapers in case we forget.

The diapers are easy to change, although that hasn’t stopped me from screwing it up once or twice.

Diaper Fail

The best part is our baby’s skin has done very well in cloth diapers. 3 weeks old and no sign of diaper rash and we haven’t had any need to use any creams or powders.

Vancouver’s Zero Waste Market

Zero Waste Market

Here’s a new business that I’m really excited about – Vancouver’s Zero Waste Market. The idea is a grocery store that completely avoids packaging. You have to bring your own containers and fill them from their bulk bins.

They don’t have a store front yet (they said they’re considering locations in Kitsilano, Olympic Village, and Main). In the meantime, they’ve been operating monthly pop-up shops in the Patagonia store on 4th Avenue and advertising on it Facebook.

I didn’t know what to expect, so I grabbed a bunch of empty jars from our cupboards and a few cloth bags.
Empty Jars

I was able to fill them with quinoa, dried mango, dried pineapple, walnuts, chocolate, cranberries, hemp seeds, mushrooms, and a red onion.
Zero Waste Market Purchases

Most of the waste we generate at home is food packaging. If we were able to eliminate that, we would be close to a zero-waste family.