Did you know Canada produces 720 kilograms of waste per capita on average every year?
According to the latest Conference Board of Canada report in 2016, waste generation results from several factors, including household revenue and lifestyle. And while waste generated in Canada did decrease by six per cent since 2002, it may still not be enough.
It’s trash — like water bottles, plastic bags, etc. — that end up making their way into landfills and sometimes oceans, impacting our environment and even sometimes killing wildlife.
Take the example of a young male sperm whale that washed up off the coast of Spain in February. The whale was found to have 64 pounds of garbage in its digestive system, including trash bags, ropes and more in its stomach, The Washington Post reports.
It’s examples like these that show why it’s important that people start thinking about the waste they generate in their homes and how they can reduce it, experts say.
“The amount of global waste that’s going into the oceans and into landfills is unsustainable,” Deborah Doncaster, president of Earth Day Canada, says. “We need to be mindful about our actions and our behaviours and if you can’t be mindful about the planet, then I’m not sure what you can be mindful about.”
In honour of Earth Month, Doncaster, along with Kathryn Kellog of the website GoingZeroWaste.com, offer up some tips on how you can limit the waste you generate within your home.
The first thing you can do is to try eliminating plastic bottles and takeaway coffee cups. Instead, use reusable water bottles for your beverages, Kellog and Doncaster suggest.
“I recommend a double insulated water bottle because it works for hot drinks and cold drinks,” Kellog adds. “That way you only have to carry one item with you.”
Another suggestion Doncaster has is moderating or eliminating disposable cleaning products.
For example, paper towels can generate quite a bit of waste. Instead, swap them out for cloths you can wash and reuse.
Also, start bringing reusable bags when you go grocery shopping Kellog suggests. It will eliminate plastic bags from your home.
While you’re out grocery shopping, Doncaster says to pay attention to the amount of packaging your food is wrapped in. This, she says, generates a lot of unnecessary waste. Try sticking to foods that have zero packaging (like fruits and veggies and other fresh foods). Not only will this cut down on packaging, but it will also help you eat healthily.
Next, be mindful of the amount of clothing you buy and throw away. With stores today generating clothing lines at a fast pace, more and more clothing is hitting the shelves and the landfills, Doncaster says. So try donating them to consignment shops, swapping clothing with your friends (rather than going out and buying more) and finding alternative uses for your old clothing.
Lastly, try switching your toothbrush to an electric one or one made of bamboo, Doncaster advises. Toothbrushes made of plastic contribute to the plastic waste that ends up in landfills and oceans. By using an electric toothbrush, you only have to change the heads rather than throw the whole thing away, Doncaster explains, while toothbrushes with bamboo holders are much more friendly to the Earth.