I’ll admit I drive a car…. a lot. I feel badly about this almost every time I drive, especially when I look to the mountains and see a haze that never use to be there when I was growing up. However, I try to make up for my car dependence in other ways. I don’t kid myself that these small measures are going to halt climate change, but a few small changes are a good start! Some of the most important choices you can make are with your pocketbook by shopping with sustainability in mind. Eventually we could change the way items we buy are manufactured, packaged, and shipped.
I try to buy most of my produce locally and from the Sunday farmers market, but when at the grocery store I avoid plastic bags at all cost and buy produce depending on what kind of packaging it comes in. It drives my husband crazy, but I no longer use plastic bags for our produce. What’s the point of the bags, really? I’ve yet to have a cashier make any snide comments about my apples not being together in a bag. Avoid buying produce in styrofoam containers wrapped in plastic. In the bulk section you can use the brown paper bags usually by mushrooms instead of the plastic, all that’s important is the bin number on tag.
Avoid buying beer in the plastic rings. Thankfully most breweries are moving towards cardboard and a few have re-usable hard plastic caps that are super handy if you’re heading out to a friends and want to take a few beers with you. Snap them in and off you go! Hilliards Brewery and Yellow Dog are two that I have seen in stores with these new lids.
Say no to bottled water. It baffles me why people with some of the best tap water in the country buy bottled water by the flats. However, if you do not have great tap water a filter can work wonders. Remember to take a BPA free plastic or glass water bottle when you’re on the go. Water bottling companies are bad news for the environment and it’s so so easy to avoid buying their products in this part of the world. Don’t forget such companies also make pop, juice and other food items so if you are serious about not supporting them find out all the products they manufacture.
Take your own containers to restaurants if you know you’ll be taking leftovers home. Your friends might look at you a little funny, but who cares! You can also take your own plate to a party to cut down on paper plates used. A lot of my friends are busy parents who rely on paper plates when they have people over. I take our own plates now and over time they have stopped rolling their eyes at me and my environmentalist ways. Keep a mug in your car or bag for those days when you just need a coffee but forgot your travel mug. If you know someone crafty, you can also get crocheted coffee collars instead of using the cardboard ones given to you.
Look-up recycling centres in your area. You would be amazed at what you can recycle when you do a little bit of research. Here in Vancouver there is TerraCycle which takes everything from chip bags, granola bar wrappers, pens, to toothpaste tubes. Who knew? Still Creek Recycling Center in Burnaby is a great place to return light bulbs, propane tanks, batteries, paint cans, cleaner containers, and so much more.
Say no to microbeads! This has been a hot topic in the news lately and they’ve thankfully been banned by a few states and provinces, but not in BC so far. This is a little trickier to manage, I suggest taking a screen shot of all the different terms used for “microbeads” that you can reference when shopping. I bought dishwasher soap the other day that has microbeads in it, never occurred to me at the time that it would contain them.
Most of these options are geared towards limiting single-use plastic and supporting eco-conscious stores or companies. Everyone has seen the photos of the Albatross sea bird with a belly full of plastic and the Sea Turtle with a straw stuck in its forehead. If we limit our dependence on single-use plastic, it is less trash at the dumps and limits the risk to wildlife. There are many more suggestions but these ideas are a great, manageable start.