by Tina Kelly –
Those algorithms. You follow one social media page and another, then through likes, shares, comments and other engagements, social media algorithms decide what to display on your newsfeed. So it is not surprising my feed receives a good amount of content focused on the environment and sustainable living.
One common post format is the “listicle” – 10 tips to minimize waste; eight ways to green your home; nine habits to live more sustainably. Use cloth shopping bags, check! Refill a water bottle, yes! Use a reusable coffee cup, of course. There are many lists and many ideas. In the spirit of the listicle, I decided to share nine items I no longer buy:
1. Garbage bags. I strive to make thoughtful choices and consume less, the result being a small amount of garbage. Instead of buying commercial garbage bags, I repurpose bags that directly or indirectly make it into my home like toilet paper packaging or bags from Farmer’s Market salad greens.
2. Compost bags. The large kitchen scrap bin in my building is lined with a compostable bag. Instead of adding another bag, I refrigerate food scraps in a mixing bowl lined with newsprint. I add this batch of kitchen scraps to the bin the night before or the day of pick up.
3. Salad dressing, hummus, etc. Using basic pantry items along with fresh ingredients, I create dressings, dips and sauces without the additional plastic packaging.
4. New bottles of shampoo, conditioner and dish soap. I’d estimate the age of my shampoo and conditioner bottles to be in the double digits. They have been refilled countless times and the same goes for dish soap. For travel, I reuse small bottles filled with my own supplies instead of using the ones provided by the hotel.
5. Liquid hand or body soap. It’s good old-fashioned bar soap for me, preferably bought without packaging or at most, a paper wrap. (Liquid soap is available at refill stores.)
6. Fruit and veggies in plastic bags or containers. Admittedly not a 100% success rate but surely more than 95%. I appreciate that one of my neighbourhood grocers sells predominantly unpackaged fruits and vegetables, making this relatively easy.
7. Commercial cleaners. I never understood the concept of having a dozen different cleaners for a dozen specialized uses. Laundry soda and (refillable) dish soap excluded, I have two store-bought cleaners: laundry stain remover and Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 castile soap. All other cleaners can be made at home with common household ingredients including white vinegar and baking soda. For clogged drains, I own both an auger and a Zip-It.
8. Plastic wrap, wax paper, parchment paper, etc. For food storage and transport I have a good mix of reusable containers, beeswax wraps and bowl covers. When it comes to cooking, I grease pans well, wipe out grease after use, soak immediately and scour with baking soda if needed.
9. Gift wrap. Wrapping paper, gift bags and cloth ribbons can all be reused. I also enjoy being creative with comic strips or handmade wrapping.
Everyone’s list will be different depending on factors including access, lifestyle and living arrangements. The goal is to do what we can and do what makes sense for us individually or as a household.