Zero Waste = Healthier Us

Water footprints on leaf

Waaaay, waaaay back, during my days as a Naturopathic student I lived in residence.  I had a classmate that I met in residence who produced nearly zero waste.  I had never seen anything like it.  Moreover, I didn’t understand what this was all about.  Why was this important?

She was had a routine where she recycled, reused and reduced what ever she could and she composted.  She used reusable bags and purchased things that had minimal packaging.  We were living student lives, out of residence rooms, so shopping was simpler back in those days, but I still marvelled at how, unlike the rest of us, her garbage bin was typically empty.

This girl was way ahead of her time.

Since then, grocery stores have started encouraging people to bring reusable bags, cities have made composting pick up commonplace and we are more aware than ever before how garbage in our landfills and water has human health consequences.

She was in her early 20s and knew so well the importance of reducing her carbon foot print back then, when it was more a whisper than the blaring messages we get today.  Changing the state of our environment is important because pollution can influence our health and the health of the generations to come.  Although big industries are the largest contributors to pollution, their interests are often driven by productivity and finance.  This makes change on their behalf difficult, if not unlikely.  So it goes back to us…what we can do..one person at a time.

As time goes on, I become more aware of the little things I can do to reduce my own, and my family’s, carbon foot print.

I keep thinking about how I can make our garbage bag lighter.  Dr. Mercola wrote a great article on this topic where  he reviews the health impact of our environment, along with a list of things each person can do to create change.  You can read the article here: Unwasted.

Here’s a summary of his simple suggestions that we can all do to live in a more environmentally friendly way.  I added some colourful examples…

1) Compost food scraps and yard waste.

2) Reduce plastic use (…reusable shopping bags, drink from reusable water bottles.. there are so many great ideas in his article… you can even check out these great sites….>>> …My Zero Waste, The Naked Dish, etc., etc., etc… there are so many sites that have great suggestions like these!)

3) Recycle and Repurpose what you can.  Donate clothes, toys and other household things to charity.  But also… there is a growing movement in DIY that makes everything old new again.  Some may call it “Shabby Chic,” others may call it something else (I’m not sure what, but if you are not a fan, be kind…lol)… but there are some really cool ideas out there for sprucing up home items.  With a little research, some paint or other crafty elements, things like old frames, decor items, tables, chairs, baskets, boxes, you name it, can be refinished and/or repurposed.  This has the multiple benefits of helping the environment, making something in our home an expression of ourselves and nurturing our creativity.  Finally, rather than just throwing something away we can consider how it might be reused (e.g. baby food jars, old books), mended (e.g. clothing, shoes) or repurposed (e.g. wine bottle corks, shutters).  This can be a fun, too!

4) Choose reusable items over single use items.  Think… old towels or rags to wipe up spills instead of paper towel, among other things (e.g. lunch bags, coffee cosy, snack bags, swifter cloths).

5) Support local “greening” efforts in our community, workplace and school.  We have curb side compost pick up along with recycling, and many workplaces are doing their part to recycle.  This week my son has a “Waste-free Lunch” day.  Some schools have already implemented initiatives like these.  By participating we can all do our part to support the environment and nurture awareness in our community.

Keeping our junk out of the landfill will help the Earth’s health and well being, and ours too, not only now but in the years to come.

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