Tag Archives: Zero Waste Lifestyle

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.

Cynthia and Carol with C 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.

Create Warm Fuzzy feelings Not Waste

Psychologists, 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

Apps 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.

Canada’s first Zero Waste grocery store

More and more consumers are realizing to achieve their Zero Waste lifestyle goals they need to change their methods of shopping. The demand for less packaging of materials, less plastic, more local products and less food waste is growing.

This week, Zero Waste Canada interviews Crystal Lehky, the owner of Green, Canada’s first Zero Waste Grocery.

Green, located on Salt Spring Island B.C., has recently opened in June for business. The grocery store offers a one-stop shopping experience where shoppers can eliminate packaging by purchasing products from bulk-style bins, using their own jars, bags, containers or baskets. The store offers a choice of over 300 products that are locally sourced, non-GMO, organic, natural or low-spray, with local products and producers from Salt Spring Island, the Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island featured. Green’s selection includes dairy products, fresh produce, eggs, pastas, herbs, cleaning and personal care products.

Crystal Lehky and Kevin Feisel are Canada’s new breed of Zero Waste grocers

ZWC: What was the motivation to open a Zero Waste grocery store on Salt Spring Island?

There were two reasons.  First, I think that Salt Spring people are open and ready for this business model.  They really care about the environment, and also about where their food is coming from.  I’m not saying that everyone everywhere doesn’t, I just think that if anyone is going to be early adopters of the concept, it’s people for whom recycling is a challenge (because it really is on this island). They also really care about local food and products, and there are tons of things being grown and made on Salt Spring.  People who don’t live here may not realize this, but it’s a farming community first and foremost.   The second reason was that I knew I’d have to live where I started my first store, and Salt Spring is a place I have always wanted to live.  It turned out to be a good choice.  Starting a business is so stressful, but it has been really hard to be stressed out on Salt Spring, it’s so relaxed.

ZWC: What will you be stocking to assist individuals with a Zero Waste lifestyle.

We do have an excellent selection of cotton drawstring bags and lovely jars for folks to buy and fill up with delicious whole foods.  However, I don’t think you need to go out and buy a bunch of things to start living zero waste. You probably already have a ton of jars and plastic containers lying around your house – probably tons. We would prefer that people bring their own containers and reuse what they already have instead of adding more ‘things’ to the environment. It’s mostly about making good decisions in the stores you visit. Most foods are packaged in plastic and you just have to learn to say no. We offer the same products with no plastic, and I feel that’s the main way we are helping folks do zero waste. We do carry a great beeswax food wrap product that eliminates the need for saran wrap and plastic baggies- that’s kind of a game changer in my opinion.

ZWC: Will any of the products you sell be in packaging? If so will your customers be able to recycle or compost this packaging?

Yes we have several products that have some paper type packaging on them.  Sometimes it’s unavoidable.  Dairy products need to be labelled by law, so they need that packaging.  We knew this was going to be an issue early on, and worked hard to try to find a solution so we could really call ourselves zero waste.  The solution was a worm farm.  A pound of worms can eat up to half a pound a day in paper scraps and vegetable waste (50/50 mix) per day.  We got a worm farm and sure enough they love eating the paper!  So we encourage our customers to bring back the paper on any products we carry and we will feed it to the worms.  It really helps with office paper waste and debit card receipts people leave behind as well.  Between our home and the bit of vegetable waste from the store, we keep them fed very nicely.  They seem like very happy worms.

ZWC: On your website you spoke about researching and working with suppliers to have reusable or recyclable shipping materials, how difficult was it to create a greener supply chain?

We are always trying to help our suppliers find alternate ways to package their products that would be better for the environment. We do this by sharing information on what other suppliers are doing to cut down waste. Honestly most of our suppliers are constantly looking for a better way to do business, and we appreciate that about them. We really have the best suppliers on the planet. In order to create this green supply chain though, it was necessary to cut out the distributers altogether and go directly to the source. Distributors have no power to change the way shipping happens. For some of our suppliers they just made a small change, and you know what, any change is awesome. Ship us things in reused boxes that I will reuse and then repurpose on a farm!  That’s using the item three extra times, so no waste in that.  One customer is using vegetable cellophane instead of plastic now.  It’s amazing what people are interested in doing, and spending money on, if only the demand arises. I spend a lot of my day speaking with new suppliers and trying to find a way to get the products my customers want in a zero waste way.  I’m very close on about six products right now but some will be a huge challenge. The bigger the company the more difficult the change is the trend I see. For that reason we work with a lot of small companies that are more open to change and don’t have active policies that work against being more green.

ZWC: How will you be minimizing waste at your store?

Well the worm farm really helps to take care of any waste we do accumulate. That takes care of any paper and vegetable scrap problems, and we don’t have any plastic garbage for the most part.  What we do have gets reused as much as it can, and then recycled. We do have a lot of cardboard that comes in shipments.  We have dealt with this cardboard in a bunch of ways, but a few of them are really cool.  We have a Salt Spring resident that was building a path through is forest and mulching cardboard as the base for the path.  That took up a ton of cardboard and is fantastic reuse of material.  Our cardboard can also be used in goat pens to create a ‘floor’ that works better for goat health.  Honestly I’m not sure how that one works, but they come and get the cardboard pretty regularly.  We have also given some of our larger boxes to local children for fort building.   We’ve had a great time watching where our ‘waste’ ends up being reused instead of recycled.

ZWC: How will you reduce food waste?

We work with the local food bank to make sure that nothing here goes to waste.  They have been wonderful in taking things off our hands that we really don’t want to throw out but can’t have displayed in the store anymore.

ZWC: What did you do before opening the grocery store?

I have done many things on my journey to this goal, but only a few are pertinent. I was a manager at a large grocery chain and I started another company as well, that is still in operation but I no longer manage the day to day operations. For the last several years I was really just trying to figure out where my passion was leading me.  I had this amazing idea last year but I really didn’t know where to start.  Having a husband who has unconditional confidence in my abilities really helped.  When you have enough passion for something it’s easy to see the obstacles as opportunities for learning.  I get a lot of ‘opportunities for learning’ with this business, but I love a challenge.  I love that people said this couldn’t be done, and now here it is up and running and doing great.


Crystal Lehky describes herself as an environmental crusader and a Canadian grocer, Zero Waste Canada is proud to introduce you to the new breed of Canadian entrepreneurs helping us achieve Zero Waste.

Green is located at 110-150 Fulford Granges Rd., Salt Spring Island, BC V9L 2T9. Telephone: 778-256-2437, Proprietor, Crystal Lehky, crystal@greenssi.ca.  Hours: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily.

Homesteader skills for a Zero Waste lifestyle

In our modern society we are leaving our roots further and further behind, skills that early homesteaders or even our grandparents used have not been learned. Early homesteaders to survive had to be self-sufficient. While most of us do not live off-the-grid, we can benefit from learning some of these self-sufficiency skills to help us create a more sustainable Zero Waste home.

Here are 10 homesteader skills that will help you with your Zero Waste journey

  1. Canning: Canning is an economical and environmentally- friendly way of preserving fruits, vegetables and meats. It allows you to eat holistically all year round. As well as preserving summer bounty, it reduces packaging and allows you to eat locally grown foods throughout the year. Many communities now offer canning workshops for those wishing to learn. Also you can find recipes and techniques such a small batch canning on the internet.
  2. Sewing:  Basic sewing skills help to keep clothing maintained. The ability to replace a button or fix a hem will reduce the amount of clothing discarded. Sewing skills can also help us to repurpose or upcycle garments.  Check out your local library for books and our local fabric store is a great place to get advice.
  3. Make cleaning supplies: Making your own cleaning supplies can cut down on toxins in your home as well as packaging waste. You’ll spend a little time for preparation but save lots of money. Declutter the cupboard by using multi-purpose ingredients like vinegar and baking soda.
  4. Sharpen a knife, axe or other cutting tools: Buying good quality products and then caring for them extends the useful life of tools. Using a dull knife is causing mishaps in the kitchen. Be safe and learn to sharpen .
  5. Nose-to- tail dining: A generation or two, homesteaders made the most of less popular cuts of meat including livers, intestines and extremities. In recent years, chefs and butchers have been embracing The Nose to Tail Movement which stems from a desire to be more responsible and waste as little as possible of the animals we kill for food.
  6. Eat weeds: Many weeds are rich in vitamins and antioxidants and are inexpensive nutrition. Instead of fighting with weeds we can benefit from learning how we can use them to supplement our diets.
  7. Using left-overs: Food was too valuable to waste, early homesteaders ate simply and used left-over food to make new meals. Food is still too good to waste. Older cookbooks or Cindy Chavick’s cook book ,The Waste Not, Want Not Cookbook: Save Food, Save Money, and Save the Planet can inspire.
  8. Repair: There was no “going and buy a new one” for many early homesteaders instead if something broke or needed repair they fixed it. Machinery, furniture, dwelling and fences were all repaired to make them last. Today consumers can learn to repair  products like small appliances, cell phones and  computers by accessing online guides from wiki-based sites like iFixit .
  9. Sharing skills: It was not unusual for a community to band together to raise a barn or help a neighbour in the past. Today a sharing economy is developing in many communities with organizations like Repair Cafes  that are helping individuals to repair items.
  10. Repurposing: Homesteaders often didn’t have a lot of stuff or money to buy stuff: biscuit tins were reused, flour sacks became clothing and towels and rags became rugs. Crafting projects and facebook sites are a great source of ideas for repurposing household objects for us today.

Keep in mind that learning skills may take some time, perseverance, and patience, but learning new things can only enrich our daily lives. Maybe visit a senior and give them an opportunity to pass down some Zero Waste skills.

Three Start-ups That Want To Reduce Your Waste

This week Zero Waste Canada decided to give a shout out to three start-ups businesses working hard to grow their businesses. Taking a great idea making a product and then finding people who will use and buy is always a challenge. One expert likened growth hacking to building an engine while you are barreling down a freeway.

Here are three different start-ups offering products that reduce waste.


Launched by entrepreneur Andrew Stromotich from Gibsons, British Columbia his platinum silicone products offer a solution to single-use plastics. Andrew’s product line includes bagz, pouches and lids.

His products are boilable, bakeable, sterilizable, dishwasher-safe, airtight and watertight, not to mention multipurpose and endlessly reusable.

As a start-up, Andrew has used crowdfunding such as Indiegogo to help finance several product innovations.

To market his products he has a website, twitter and facebook. He also used video presentations to show the uses and benefits of his products.


Karen Moore and her sister Lisa wanted to help other women become more healthy, environmentally friendly, and confident during their period. Karen, who is currently a student in the health field and Lisa, an ESL teacher used their sewing skills to turn a hobby into a product – colourful reusable pads.

SmartyPantsPads are a Canadian made product made from cotton, flannel, Zorb( a highly absorbent fabric that can absorb 10 times its weight) and a polyurethane laminate as a moisture barrier. The benefits of using cloth menstrual pads include both saving money and reducing waste. You can do the math: assuming a woman menstruates for 40 years, buys $8 pack of disposables every other month, it eventually adds up to $1,920 over her lifetime. If she’s using a pack a month, that’s $3,840. A half-dozen set of reusables for the same period, at an estimated cost of $84, replaced every five years, total only $640.  An average woman will use up to 16,800 disposable pads and tampons during her lifetime.

SmartyPantsPads are currently available on Etsy. Karen has a Faacebook page to promote the product.

Leaf Republic

For three years this start-up based in Munich Germany been doing research in the area of sustainable packaging. Leaf Republic wants to push the market a bit further towards sustainability. Believing: “Revolutions are not started by a market leader, but by lateral thinkers following a clear vision: Not to work within the system and to accept the standards as given, but to change the system and to set new standards”, Leaf Republic is the very first company to develop sustainable one-way disposable tableware and food packaging material made of nothing but tree leaves.

The tableware and packaging is made leaves with no synthetic additives, no colouring, no glue and no trees have been cut down. The product is biodegradable in 28 days. It is free from petroleum derivatives and genetically modified components.

The company has launched a 29 day Kickstarter campaign to introduce its’ green, biodegradable and vegan tableware (one-way dishes) to the public.

Leaf Republic has a well-organized marketing campaign that makes use of social media, media announcements and a website.

Check out these innovators and help them grow.

Waste is the sum of bad habits

Our lives are essentially the sum of our habits. It is important to remember that lasting change is a product of daily habits, not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.

Some of our habits are good and some could be called bad.

Creating waste can be the result of bad habits.

Good news that it is possible to change habits. You can kick the wasting habits. Creating a Zero Waste lifestyle does require forming some new habits that support creating less waste.

Identify those tiny daily habits that add up. Do you throw recycling in your waste bin in the bathroom? Do you regularly leave food on your plate?

Backtrack from the garbage bin.   The contents of your garbage can tell about habits you need to change.  Are the late night snacks of potato chips creating waste packaging in your bin?

Start with one habit you want to change or form.  Here’s your action step: Decide what you want your new habit to be. Now ask yourself, “How can I make this new behaviour so easy to do that I can’t say no?”

Say you want to take your own bags for shopping is the habit you want to form, ask yourself what routines  do you already do that could be a reminder to bring your shopping bags. Placing shopping bags with car keys at the door may help to remind you to take shopping bags.  Attaching a shopping list to the bags may be the reminder if you have a routine of taking shopping lists to stores.

Use shopping bags that you like and make you feel good using. We want to continue things that make us feel good. And because an action needs to be repeated for it to become a habit, it’s especially important that you reward yourself each time you practice your new habit.  Acknowledge each time you perform your new habit by congratulating yourself.

Make habits you want to perform more visible and the ones you want to change less visible. If you want to make it easier to break a bad habit, then you need to increase the number steps required to perform that habit.

Move the garbage can from the prime spot and replace it with a recycling bin and compost bin. Design your environment to make the reminders of your Zero Waste habits more visible and the reminders of your wasteful habits less visible.   This simple strategy makes change easier and is quick way to tailor your environment to support your goals.

A Zero Waste lifestyle can be achieved by creating good habits that are practiced on a daily basis.

Shopping and Waste

Women have consumer power. It is time to use it wisely.

Did you know that women control $20 trillion in annual spending in America and Fleishman-Hillard Inc. estimates that over the next decade women will control two-thirds of the consumer wealth in the U.S.  Women make the decision in the purchases of 94% of home furnishings, 92%of vacations, 91% of homes, 60% of automobiles, 51% of electronics purchases and make the majority of decisions of groceries and household products.

What we buy and how much stuff we buy is having a huge impact on the world.

Women are can make a difference. Women, as the dominant retail shoppers, need to realize that the choices being made impact the ability for our world to become a Zero Waste society. Self-awareness and change must be part of the increasing powers of the female consumer.

Here are some startling shopping and waste facts

The average woman owns 20 pairs of shoes but only wears 5 pairs regularly

77% of women use less than 10% of beauty products they purchase (the average woman spends more than $15,000 on make-up in her lifetime)

The average woman buys more than 52 items of new clothing a year. (The average Canadian disposes of 14kg of textile waste per year)

One in three bags of groceries purchased is wasted

Women outspend males $10.31 per trip to grocery store

Almost 13,000 chemicals are used in cosmetics (women put 168 chemicals in their bodies daily)

The average woman throws away 300lbs of “pads, plugs and applicators” in her life-time

Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup collected 20,000 tampon applicators out of 4 million total pieces of reclaimed plastic.

10 Things Women Can Do To Reduce Waste

  1. Avoid “retail therapy”: Try to find other activities to reduce stress or to create positive experiences. At very least just look.
  2. Use the buyerarchy for consumer decisions
  3. Make a shopping list for all household purchases and stick to the list.
  4. Plan meals so that you use food you have and are using leftovers.
  5. Avoid single-use disposable products: While they may seem convenient or time-saving single use disposable creates lots of waste. Lessen your impact by not using products like disposable razors, plastic straws, take-out disposable coffee cups, and convenience snack foods packaged in non-recyclable materials. Use alternatives to single-use.
  6. Stop trying to fill it up: Stop filling up your closet, your home and your shopping bag and the refrigerator with stuff. Think of minimizing first by changing shopping habits. Consider buying quality by quantity.
  7. Consider using less toxic, more eco-friendly hygiene products.
  8. Realize that beauty does come in a bottle. Reduce the amount of cosmetics purchased. Remember many cosmetics have toxin issues plus most of the packaging is not recyclable. Use products that are refillable or have packaging recycling programs, or make your own.
  9. Give love not stuff. Think about what you can give other than more stuff.
  10. Slow down and get organized: Sometimes our hectic lives create bad habits and waste. Take some time to create management systems that create efficiency and promoted waste reduction. Create systems that organize the refrigerator and cupboards, create compost and recycling opportunities in the kitchen, bathroom, home office and garden and enlist other family members to help.

Women have the power to create change by becoming conscious consumers.


“Women have an essential role to play in the development of sustainable and ecologically sound consumption and production patterns and approaches to natural resource management.”

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development