Is there a Zero Waste Shop in your city or community? If not, after reading this post I hope you see why there should be!
A recent study shows that “Canadians produce more garbage per capita than any other country on earth, Canadians generate approximately 31 million tonnes of garbage a year (and only recycle about 30 percent of that material). Thus, each Canadian generates approximately 2.7 kg of garbage each day.” (Source: CRC Research)
Most of the conversation on our website revolves around regenerative agriculture and grain farming, but I have been challenged lately by the grassroots movement of zero waste shopping and the zero waste lifestyle. Over the last year, single-use plastic straws have been all over the internet and news, with many places banning their use or removing them because they are filling up landfills and impacting our natural environment. But plastic straws are just a gateway into a topic that is affecting us all.
Plastic Waste from Farm to Grocery Store to Home
Zero waste shopping causes us to think more about our consumption patterns and our dependence on plastics. One area that gets a lot of focus because of the heavy reliance on petroleum is agriculture through human-made fertilizer and diesel fuel that tractors run on. Another industry we are silently hooked on is petroleum. Petroleum-based packaging geared toward food convenience; mainly disposable food packaging. It illustrates our need to start and wean ourselves off our reliance on plastics created through the use of petroleum.
So why look at zero waste shopping on an agriculture-related page?
There is an impact plastic has on food as it moves from the farm to consumers. Apples come in clear plastic bags for ease of handling, grain-based energy bars sold in individually wrapped plastic, chicken breast packaging is not only plastic but also includes a non-degradable foam tray and, litres of milk are in two layers of plastic for simplicity. All this plastic is having a lasting impact on the earth which we need to take care of and maintain for our existence.
As I was researching this zero-waste topic, I came across the website Zero Waste Forest City and was struck by a quote from Shannon Hawke Co-Facilitator of the site. “If I want to care for myself, I also have to care for the planet.”
As we celebrate another Earth day, I can’t think of a better way to respect our planet than looking further into the zero waste movement.
London’s Newest Zero Waste Shop
London Ontario has a relatively new store that focuses on waste-free living called Naked by Reimagine Co. It is located downtown on King Street, and I had the opportunity to meet one of the co-owners a few weeks ago at the first annual Tea and Kombucha Festival. At first, I thought this was just a no packaging grocery store, but as I talked with Heenal, I realized this concept has excellent application for our annual Regenerate- Heritage Grain weekend. [link to event] Before we become sustainable we first need to build a regenerative food system, and that includes food packaging. Only then we can become truly sustainable.
I read a quote by Heenal that perfectly summarizes this way of thinking; “Zero waste is about making steps wherever you can and bringing consciousness to your consumption and what you use and what you throw away.”
One thing I am realizing is that reducing our Carbon Footprint is something we all need to take more seriously. As change is needed now more than ever and corporations are not going to lead the way until consumers show them this is something we are serious about and willing to pay for. Then the innovators will rise to the top!
How A Zero Waste Lifestyle Can Shift Government Regulation
This encounter with Heenal, made me consciously start looking at the amount of waste we create in our households. How our food choices in our homes and the fact that food companies pass the responsibility of their packaging choices to federal, provincial and municipal governments to manage and consumers to pay for through taxes. We don’t choose how food is packaged or do we?
The goal of food companies for a very long time has been to make food more convenient and to reduce the cost of packaging so we can buy more of it. Some may remember the days of milk deliveries to households in a glass jar, and the empty jar returned to the front step to be returned and reused by the company. Or the days of canning jars lining rural cellars full of preserved fruits and vegetables for colder months eating. These stopped because while glass jars can be reused for many years. Glass packaging was expensive and have been replaced with cheaper plastic options.
Read more: Saving an Heirloom Pear, before it’s gone!
When did We Stop Striving for a Zero Waste Lifestyle?
Waste-free living use to be the thing many of us subscribed to, so what happened to our stewardship of the earth? It has made me realize, one more thing I need to be passionately communicating to businesses: zero waste shopping is critical in my purchase patterns. And not only what the food is made with and how it is grown are essential but also how it is packaged and how that waste is minimized or completely removed.
Regenerate’s Heritage Grain Weekend | September 27, 28 & 29, 2019 | London, Ontario
Since the whole weekend of Regenerate is created to build a narrative on rejuvenating the way we think, this should be a point that is brought to the attention for attendees to start asking. In my individual life, how can I start and build an interest in zero waste shopping?
In our family, we will be taking our children to the zero waste shop in London and challenging each of them to think about one way we can remove a product we simply dispose of or use once and throw away and replace it with one that is biodegradable or reused many times like a bamboo toothbrush. Not radical changes in our home but simple steps to personal ownership in how we treat the earth each day we eat or consume.
Let’s all start today to make steps towards food companies sitting up and taking notice of zero waste grocery shopping. It is crucial for us to support companies that take the lead to innovate in their product packaging to prevent us from destroying the earth with our waste.