Canada is too good to waste : 150 Zero Waste Tips

imgp4285Canada is just too good to waste

Canada is just too good to waste. Canada is big, bountiful and beautiful nation is turning 150 this year. All over the country there are celebrations of our history, our achievements our culture and our people.

Canada is creating way too much trash as well as consuming resources like they will last forever. As we celebrate Canada turning 150, we must also look towards the future and take steps to keep Canada beautiful and healthy.

Here are 150 Zero Waste tips to help you celebrate Canada every day by having a Zero Waste lifestyle.

150 Zero Waste Tips

1.       Drink tap water

2.       Use a reusable coffee cup at home, events, on-the-go, business and school

3.       Repair and refinish well-worn furniture

4.       Rent formal or special occasion wear

5.       Donate your old eyeglasses to service groups that forward them to people in need

6.       Replace disposable alkaline batteries with rechargeable batteries

7.       Make coffee with reusable coffee filters

8.       Maximize the life of appliances by doing routine maintenance

9.       Donate hearing aids to service groups that forward them to people in need

10.   Borrow instead of buy

11.   Break the paper towel habit instead use clothes

12.   Make your mattresses last by turning and reversing end to end twice a year

13.   Eat leftovers

14.   Share leftovers with friends and neighbours

15.   Take your own shopping bags to the market

16.   Carry a cloth hankerchief  for blowing nose

17.   Use cloth napkins at home and on- the –go

18.   Use cloth diapers

19.   Only buy items in packaging that you can recycle

20.   Use non-disposable feminine hygiene products

21.   Consider an electric razor or a straight razor for shaving

22.   Use both sides of a piece of paper before recycling

23.   Do your best to stop junk mail

24.   Buy e-books, unless it is a reference book you will use away from internet

25.   Purchase online magazine or newspaper subscriptions instead of paper copies

26.   Resist buying items that are packaged in single servings like coffee pods, granola bars and candy

27.   Return egg cartons and berry cartons to farm gate sales or farmers markets

28.   Pack a Zero waste lunch for school or work

29.   Store or carry foods in reusable wraps or containers. Mason jars, beeswax wraps and reusable glass or stainless steel or silicone containers reduce plastic wrap waste

30.   Say no to straws when ordering drinks

31.   Label children’s clothing, school supplies and other belongings that might find their way into school lost and found

32.    Have a swap meet or party to exchange children’s clothing, books and toys

33.   Start or use a toy library to borrow games and toys

34.   Choose loose fruits and vegetables instead of  packaged

35.   Shop at local farmers’ markets or farm gate sales to support local food that has less packaging

36.   Fill up on grains, cereals, nuts and other kitchen staples at the bulk bin. Be sure to bring your own containers or bags from home when purchasing items

37.   Grown your own food. Salad vegetables and herbs can be grown in gardens or window sills or in containers on a balcony.

38.   Instead of buying toxic cleaning products use vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda to do household cleaning tasks.

39.   Stop buying plastic garbage bags. Line your garbage bins with paper or biodegradable bags.

40.   Swap your synthetic sponge for a cotton cloth or use natural loofahs.

41.   Buy wine with cork stoppers. After using wine compost, recycle or use corks for crafts.

42.   Resist single-use coffee pods.

43.   Avoid cosmetic products with microbeads.

44.   Try to buy soaps and shampoos that come in solid bars without packaging.

45.   Cut down on unnecessary washing of fleece products and nylon, acrylic and polyester textiles that may cause micro fiber pollution.

46.   Invest in a refillable lighter or use matches.

47.   Burn candles or use essential oils or lavender from the garden instead of air fresheners in plastic holders.

48.   Buy candy that has foil wrap or no wrapping from the bulk food bins. Make sure you recycle the foil it you are eating chocolate kisses.

49.   Carry reusable utensils and straws. Consider keeping a kit in the car, briefcase, suitcase and purse for those unplanned events.

50.   When ordering pizza say no to the plastic package saver in the middle of the pizza box.

51.   Give up chewing gum.

52.   By –pass the frozen food section as most of the packaging cannot be recycled.

53.   Use your own reusable produce bags or don’t put stuff in bags.

54.   Read the labels of products and resist toxic or polluting ingredients

55.   Use soap instead of saving cream

56.   Avoid non-stick cookware

57.   Bring your own headphones or ear plugs on planes instead of using plastic packaged headphones offered by airline.

58.   Resist the mini bar in the hotel room. Instead bring your own healthy snacks in less packaging.

59.   Shop at thrift stores. If you need something new to you shop second hand.

60.   Learn to make basic clothing repairs like sewing buttons.

61.   Ask charities and thrift stores what they can use before donating or leaving items

62.   Make sure items donated to charities are reusable. It is best to think of acceptable donations as gently-worn and in good repair items. Do not donate garbage or use a thrift store as a dumping site

63.   Take responsibility for what you buy. It is your responsibility to recycle or dispose of properly and pay any costs of discarding or recycling.

64.   Before you buy something, ask yourself do you really need it and how long will you use it?

65.   Buy products that are durable and built to last.

66.   Research products, brands and items you would like to purchase before buying. Think environmental impact, is there recycling or take-back programs , repair programs, what do other consumers say about quality and function are some of the questions you may want answered.

67.   Shop the refrigerator before shopping the supermarket. Use food at home before buying more.

68.   Rotate food in cupboards and refrigerator so that you use older stock first.

69.   Designate one meal weekly as a use it up meal.

70.   Ask for a doggie bag at a restaurant if you cannot finish meal. Carry your own container if possible.

71.   If meals portions are too large at restaurants split dishes with your companion.

72.   Do not heap the plate at buffets, you can always return for more if you are still hungry.

73.   Freeze or preserve surplus produce from the garden.

74.   Forget about perfection. Buy misshapen fruits and vegetables.

75.   Donate safe and nutritious foods to food banks and food rescue programs. Remember they also need money to operate programs.

76.   Learn what you have in your pantry, refrigerator or freezer that could act as a substitute or alternative ingredient instead of buying new products for one use.

77.   Opt for electronic communication from banks and utilities instead of receiving paper bills and statements.

78.   Save vegetable peelings to make vegetable stock.

79.   Use a shopping list and stick to it.

80.   Learn how to store food properly as well as how long food lasts.

81.   Use your freezer to extend life of food.

82.   Plan meals by first taking inventory of current food stock. Also plan meals that may have use up food.

83.   Don’t dish out massive plates of food. There can always be second helpings.

84.   Offer guests “doggy bags” for unfinished meals or leftovers.

85.   Ditch the dryer sheets instead use wool dryer balls.

86.   Rent dishes and glasses for large events or mix and match using what you have

87.   Resist releasing inflated balloons to float away as they create litter and are a hazard to wildlife.

88.   Use over-ripe fruit to make smoothies

89.   Don’t assume you need to buy in mass quantities or larger sizes. Buy what you need and can use.

90.   Learn to re-portion food. Divide bread, meat and other products into manageable servings and freeze what you are not using immediately.

91.   Buy products with recycled content.

92.   If you don’t like to wash soiled diapers use a diaper service.

93.   Feed animals like chickens and pigs food scraps.

94.   Buy salads and fruit from salad bar if you only use small portions

95.   Handle produce with care at supermarkets. Don’t squeeze or drop what you do not buy.

96.   Return frozen goods, meat and produce to appropriate shelves in supermarket or give to staff if you change your mind while shopping. Don’t leave perishable products in aisles to be found.

97.   Understand the difference between best before and expiration dates on food labels.

98.   Do not open packages in stores unless you have permission from shop keeper or you are buying product.

99.   Keep a pantry and refrigerator inventory list so you know what you have at a glance.

100.       Encourage waste-free lunches for schools and promote students take home uneaten food.

101.       Do not sell potato chips, candy bars or bottled water at schools or government buildings.

102.       Simplify and minimize. Do you really need more that one kind of shampoo?

103.       Use and buy products that are refillable

104.       Reduce gift giving instead give the gift of togetherness and time

105.       Get crafty and learn how to upcycle and repurpose objects to give them a new life

106.       Read the manuals for appliances and use as directed. Follow care and maintenance guidelines.

107.       Invest in quality instead of quantity.

108.       Brew bones. Use bones to create broth or stocks for cooking.

109.       Sell the things you no longer want in garage sales, consignment stores or online sites.

110.       Take your shoes and hand bag for repair to a shoe repair business to extend life.

111.       Take your broken items to a Repair Cafe

112.       Use recycling Apps to learn about recycling opportunities in your area

113.       Rotate tires

114.       Learn and calculate how much paint you need. One gallon of paint covers an area of about 400sq.ft.

115.       Refuse promotional materials as they often are not good quality or they have little reuse demand. Refuse the cups, bags and other junk.

116.       Cut down on washing clothes instead wash when they are actually dirty.

117.       Surround yourself with items that serve multiple purposes to streamline clutter and waste.

118.       Beware of greenwashing, always question and research

119.       Vote with your dollars for sustainable products.

120.       Repurpose and upcycling instead of buying gift wrap. Wrap with materials that can be reused or recycled.

121.       Support your local seamstress or tailor by having clothing repaired.

122.       Pick up litter when you find it and dispose of it properly even when it is someone else’s.

123.       Ditch plastic q-tips for plastic-free or compostable.

124.       Thank and support with your dollars restaurants and supermarkets and businesses that support and accommodate your Zero Waste lifestyle. Leave a tip for the waitress that brings the drink sans straw.

125.       Feed the soil by composting at home.

126.       Slow down and enjoy the food experience. Make food preparation, eating and clean-up a relaxed family social routine

127.       Reduce fast food. Bring your own containers if grabbing a burger.

128.       Learn to make do with what you have.

129.       Buy binders second hand and recover.

130.       Learn a new craft or skill.

131.       Don’t be afraid to ask. Kindly ask local stores if you could use your own containers. Work with your local businesses and support them to making zero Waste changes.

132.       Make it easy for coffee take-out or bulk food stores to fill your containers by marking container weight or how many ounces cups hold on your cups and containers.

133.       Support start-ups who are launching Zero Waste products, services or businesses on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter

134.       Make your compost and recycling bins more accessible that your garbage can

135.       Reduce the size of your garbage cans

136.       Stop smoking .

137.       Ask your local shops to carry Zero Waste products and make sure you buy them.

138.       Use a vacuum cleaner with reusable bags.

139.       Don’t dump garden waste in vacant lots. Invasive plants are a problem across Canada.

140.       Use an air popper instead of buying microwave popcorn.

141.       Donate to a charity instead of exchanging gifts.

142.       Send email invitations and greeting.

143.       Just because you get a big…you don’t need to fill it. Just because you get a large garbage can or recycling or compost bin does not mean that you have to fill it. Remember that you are using and discarding resources. That big dinner plate you don’t have to fill either. Use only what you really need.

144.       Compost your food scraps at home. There are lots of options for apartments, multi-dwelling, homes, and bear country available.

145.       Learn what recycling, disposal and compost options are available in your community and learn the items that are accepted. Do not assume you know. “Wishful” recycling cases lots of contamination.

146.       Learn the Zero Waste hierarchy and start by REDUCING.

147.       Do not want for government to save the planet. Everyone must create solutions and act.

148.       Start a Zero Waste Business.

149.       Do a waste audit in your home or office. Waste is about making bad choices.

150.       It is going to take effort but we each can make changes in our behaviours and actions to help create a Zero waste world. We just need to keep trying and learning as we go. Be mindful.

C Soap – made from recycled cooking oil

C soap made from recycled cooking oil
C soap made from recycled cooking oil

Carol Folhasi grew up in Brazil watching her grandmother and other women making soap for personal use and household cleaning. An Italian immigrant to Brazil, Carol’s grandmother brought the skills of making soap from used cooking oil to her new home and passed that knowledge on to her children and grandchildren. Used cooking oil was saved to have another life as soap.

As an adult moving to Canada, Carol was surprised to find the reuse/ repurposing of cooking oil was not happening in Canadian kitchens and in some cases the fate of used cooking oil was into landfills or poured down drains.

Carol’s partner, Cynthia Gabay started to have allergic reactions to store bought hygiene products which sent her on a quest to learn what exactly was in the products she was buying. Most commercially produced bars contain synthetic lathering agents, artificial colors, and a slew of chemicals we can’t even pronounce. Antibacterial and antimicrobial soaps often contain triclosan. Triclosan is a toxic chemical that is known to cause cancer. The vast majority of the products on the shelf don’t say “soap” on their labels, because these bars are actually detergent.

Using a grandmother’s wisdom and the research about the health and environmental impacts using more natural products, the team decided to start their own business making soap.

C Soap is a new business taking its first steps into the market in Victoria BC.

C Soap collects cooking oil for recycling, there is a pick up order form on the website . There is an online shop for ordering product as well as they are beginning to stock at local shops.

The soap has no packaging and is a hard bar.

We are using the soap.  There is no food residual smells from the bar, it is a creamy ivory colour. We have tested it bathing, and washing hair as well as washing dishes and have had good results. The soap leaves skin and hair soft. There was no need to use a cream rinse to detangle hair. Apparently commercial soap manufacturers make it a practice to remove the glycerine that is produced during the saponification (soap-making) process therefore more natural soaps actually moisturize skin.

A recent report by the UK’s Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) revealed that synthetic chemicals from soap, body washes, shampoos and other healthcare products were sneaking through the filters at water purification plants. The list of offenders included phthalates, which are linked to reproductive disorders in humans and animals, and parabens, a preservative, which links to cancer.

C Soap is another small Canadian business helping to create a more sustainable home and country. C Soap is proudly made on Vancouver Island.

C Soap 

Cynthia and Carol with C Soap
Cynthia and Carol with C Soap

Create Warm Fuzzy feelings Not Waste


boys-1511054_640Psychologists, anthropologists, and marketers have found that giving gifts is a surprisingly complex and important human interaction that helps to define relationships and strengthens bonds between family and friends. Gift giving has been part of many cultures and rituals for thousands of years. First Nation’s potlatches were a giving feast and in fact the word potlatch comes from the Chinook jargon meaning “to give away” or “gift” Giving is embedded in our celebrations, our history and our expressions of caring. 

Psychologists often point out that giving to others reinforces our feelings to them and makes us feel effective and caring.

Many individuals today lament that Christmas has become too materialistic. Many of us have enough stuff.

All the stuff associated with gift giving including packaging and wrapping also creates lots of waste. Household waste increases by 25% from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

Instead of banning gifts perhaps it is time to rethink what we actually are giving. Instead of objects perhaps we think of creating feelings, memories and experiences.

Creating memories can start with joining family and friends to prepare for the season. Baking cookies with mom may be a memory children remember long after any memory of shopping. Creating memories is about moments of togetherness and caring.

Sharing memories with parents and older relatives reconnects that past and present. Sharing family stories connects children with their family history.

Giving the gift of time enriches the lives of children and perhaps the neighbour who is alone. Reading a Christmas story with a child or inviting a neighbour for tea is about giving your time and attention.

Giving the gift of your services by volunteering with a community group or cause is another way of gifting the spirit of Christmas. Christmas is a time that food banks, charities, rest homes, animal shelters and hospitals are in need of volunteers.

Donating money or needed items to a charity is a gift that can help to create positive change.

Give a hug.

Give a hand, Offer to help someone.

Give love.

And with these gifts we can create fuzzy warm feelings not waste.


Apps Promote Recycling

app-680732_640Apps are an important tool to promote better recycling.

Smartphones have transformed the way we live our lives so it is imperative we adapt the latest technologies to make it easier to engage  citizens and solve problems including making zero waste solutions more accessible.

Communities across Canada from Halifax to Victoria are offering free apps to help residents manage their recycling and disposal needs. The apps come in different forms, including calendars and reminders for curbside collection and detailed maps that outline depots that take specific items such as paint, electronics or compact-fluorescent light bulbs. Winnipeg’s MY WASTE mobile app, as well as collection days and items recycled, offers instruction on how to recycle and what not to include in blue bins.

Provincial recycling organizations also offer informative apps. The Recycling Council of BC in partnership with the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC), the free app is a quick and simple tool that helps users find over 1,000 drop-off locations and recycling options for over 70 materials or products across BC. BC Recyclepedia App is available for both iPhones Androids, provides users a list of the 10 nearest locations to recycle your item, based on the phones location, as well as a Google map with directions.


EPR stewardship programs are also using apps to educate the public about their programs. Multi-Material BC (MMBC) is announcing its partnership with ReCollect, a BC-based waste collection mobile application developer, to create a new MMBC mobile application (app) for residents in areas serviced by MMBC’s packaging and printed paper recycling program.


Surveys of Canadian cell phone usage report a growing reliance on smart phones as the majority of users “do not leave home without it” and use the phone at least two hours a day. More than one in five Canadian households uses cell phones as their sole telephone service.

Smartphones are allowing Canadians to have information at their finger tips anywhere and at any time. According to Statistics Canada, 84% of household owned at least one cell phone. Canada is the fourth heaviest mobile data users in the world and mobile data traffic is expected to grow by 600% from 2015 to 2020(Cisco, VNI Mobile Forecast Highlights, 2015-2020).

The average smartphone user has 30 apps installed on their device and they have used  12 apps  on their smartphones in the past month.

People are using mobile to change all aspects of their life, whether it’s their job, travel, shopping, the way they communicate with others, and specifically trying to understand the world around them; recycling apps can help.

Zero Waste kitchen ; uses for pits, peels, stems and leaves

appetite-1238250_640When we are consuming fruits and vegetables, we often focus on the flesh of the fruit or the heads of the broccoli leaving usable parts of the produce to be discarded in the compost, but we can get even more value from the goodness of the plant.

In our Zero Waste kitchens our goal is to maximize the use of our food resources. Here are some ideas how to use pits, stems, leaves and skins.

  1. Plant it:heart-1066536_640

Pits: The almondlike seeds in pits from peaches, nectarines and apricots do a good job of carrying on the desirable traits of their parents. You can simply sprout and grow a seed from a great-tasting specimen, and you have a good chance of sinking your teeth into sweet, juicy fruit from your own tree in only three to five years. Choose pits from fully ripe fruit. Avoid seeds from early maturing varieties because their seeds may not develop enough to sprout. Locally grown varieties are more likely to prosper in your garden compared to varieties grown a thousand miles away.

Peels: Grow potatoes from peelings by planting any piece of a potato that contains at least one eye. Work the soil in a sunny garden bed to a depth of 8 inches, incorporating 3 inches of organic compost. Plant your potatoes a month before the last frost, or any time after that through September. Potatoes prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH of about 6 to 6.5.

Stalks: Regrow celery, green onions and romaine lettuce from the stalk ends. Place the bottom end of stalk in water in a glass on windowsill.  Once plant has stared regrowth you can choose to plant in a pot or in the garden.


  1. Cook it, eat itcarrots-1112020_640

Pits: :  For the adventurous cook use pits to flavour vinegar and sauces (warning peach, apricot and nectarines  pits contain  amygdalin, a cyanide and sugar compound that degrades into hydrogen cyanide (HCN) when metabolized so follow proven recipes. Avocado pits are also dried and ground to add to smoothies.

Peels:  Potato peelings make into tasty chips by baking them in the oven. The best part is you don not have to make them right away. You can put them in a bowl, cover them with water and refrigerate you can wait up to 3 or 4 days to bake them. Save them for movie night munchies. Banana peels also can be cooked and banana peels are packed with nutrients like vitamin A, lutein, and other antioxidants, including B vitamins, which your body needs to keep its metabolism stoked. What’s more, they have tons of soluble and insoluble fiber, even more than the fruit itself—both can slow digestion, boost feelings of fullness, and even work to lower cholesterol.

Leaves: Carrot tops are highly nutritious and can be used in salads, made into pesto or included in stews.

Stalks : Broccoli stalks make great additions to stock, salads and a variety of dishes. The stalks can be grated, chopped, puréed to add a mild flavour to dishes.

        3. Homemade beauty products: beauty-treatment-163540_640

Pits: Dry and grind apricot pits to make home-made exfoliate for soaps and facial scrubs.

Peels : Use peels to make lovely scented skin tonics and scrubs, Make  hair conditioner  by  adding the peels of several lemons to a jar, and fill almost to the top with apple cider vinegar). Allow it to sit for 1-2 weeks and strain out peels. Add about 1 tablespoon of this citrus vinegar solution to 1 cup of water, and use as a conditioning rinse after shampooing. Allow the rinse to remain on hair for a few minutes, then rinse out or just leave in.

4.Cleaning products:

Peels: Citrus peels contain oil called D-limonene which is a powerful solvent for dirt and especially grease. Citrus peels are an ingredient in homemade furniture polish and cleaners.lemon-1313650_640

We can make the most of many fruits and vegetables we consume by using all parts from stalk to skin.