"There is no such thing as away. When you throw something away, it must go somewhere."
I recently read this quote by Annie Leonard and it stopped me in my tracks. How often do we really stop and think about where our household waste goes? I have always been a proud recycler and felt good that we always had more recycling than we did trash. That is until I started doing research on recycling and realized it may not be as planet-friendly as I had once thought (Google "truth about recycling" to start your own research). Is recycling better than not recycling? I guess so; however my current goal is now to avoid unnecessary packaging as much as possible (and most of it is unnecessary).
After deciding this I realized that pretty much everything comes in a package of some sort and it's overwhelming. Where would I even begin? I decided to turn to our own 'garbage' and start there. What items were we throwing in the trash and recycling? Which items were repeat offenders (things we consumed often) and could they be replaced with a package-less or reduced-package alternative? This seemed like a tangible and manageable place to start.
So here I give you a deep dive into our 'garbage' along with some items we use and toss often and how I am working to reduce it:
1. Cashew Milk
I love unsweetened cashew milk in my smoothies, which I have every single day (sometimes twice a day). This means that I usually go through a few cartons a week. After consulting The Google, I realized that it was ridiculously easy to make my own cashew milk; even easier than most other nut milks because it doesn't have to be strained. Soak, blend, done. I followed this recipe and I don't even bother with the honey/vanilla/salt because it's blended right into my smoothies anyway. Such an easy switch.
Kingston loves milk. I know there are mixed reviews about milk such as "if you're not a cow you shouldn't be drinking cows milk", but aside from that - he loves it a lot. I have tried swapping out his regular milk for cashew milk but he sensed my trickery right away and was not having it. I've discovered that Foxhill offers milk in returnable glass bottles and I intend to give it a try.
3. Stacey's Pita Chips
What can I say, apparently we love these because I keep finding bags in our garbage and going out to buy more. The boys love them and we usually pop them in a little "snack tray" as I call it with some fruit, veggies and cheese. (I won't lie, I fancy myself a good snack tray too). I will continue to search for a suitable cracker-slash-pita-chip-esque alternative at Bulk Barn, but for now I just try to buy them in bulk from Costco for a better food-to-package ratio.
Ditto pita chips. We love popcorn as a light snack, when watching movies, during picnics, beach outings, etc. I usually buy Skinny Pop because I like that's so light and doesn't have a bunch of added junk. Thankfully it's super easy to make your own popcorn and you can get everything from the kernels to sea salt to different seasonings at Bulk Barn, so thats an easy swap I'll be making.
5. Sparkling Water
I used to love me some flavoured LaCroix and the cans are just so pretty (call me a sucker but you can't deny it - the branding is on point). I could easily go through a few cans a day, especially during the warmer weather. Enter: SodaStream. I got one and I love it! This is actually a swap we made at Christmas and I am happy to report it's not just collecting dust; I use it daily. I love flavouring it using my doTERRA essential oils, a squeeze of lemon or lime juice or a 50/50 ratio with my homemade iced tea. And all of those are the perfect (albeit dangerously delicious) base for a vodka soda too.
6. Pre-cut Fruit/Veggies
This is my confession (cue Usher): I used to love buying the pre-cut pepper/onion/mushroom kits for pasta sauce, chili, tacos, whatever. Also, sometimes strawberries because they can be a pain to wash and cut and then everyone eats them immediately and you have to do it all over again #firstworldproblems. But since becoming somuchmore conscious about reducing my waste, I have quit pre-cut fruit and veggies cold turkey and I'm not looking back.
Seeing the amount of styrofoam and plastic wrap that contain meat/poultry/fish is incredibly unappealing; especially because they will never biodegrade. One option is to reduce meat consumption, which I have become increasingly more aware of. The other option is to purchase directly from the butcher (even at grocery stores) and bring your own containers, which I have started doing. They simply weigh the meat on the scale and then happily place it in my own reusable container. Easy peasy lemon squeezey.
Alright, so those are some of the swaps I've made/am making/want to make. As I continue to observe what we're throwing out I will continue to evaluate what sort of changes we can make to reduce the amount of packaging we discard. I'll be the first to say I'm not 100% perfect but I'm doing the best I can, as often as I can and that's where I'm at right now.
I hope you found this helpful and maybe it gave you some ideas of your own. What are some items you consume on the regular and that you've swapped out or want to swap out? Let me know so you can inspire others!