As Canadians clear out their closets and tackle the spring clean purge, a Montreal mother is urging families to think twice before throwing anything out.
Can it by repurposed, recycled, resold or donated?
Those are questions Stephanie Moram, the Good Girl Gone Green blogger, said she asks every single day.
“I’m always thinking, ‘How can I divert this from a landfill?'” said Moram. “‘What can I possibly do with this item?’ Whether it’s a glass jar, whether it’s clothing, whether it’s crayons, whether it’s anything.
“That’s not the average person’s train of thought. It’s automatic trash.”
Moram said she quit using chemicals cold turkey, but the switch to a greener lifestyle can be overwhelming and may not be realistic to go “all in.”
She recommended changing a few daily habits like ditching more plastics and buying in bulk to avoid excess packaging. Use that water that sat in your glass overnight.
“I don’t talk about wasting water all the time,” said Moram when educating her daughter Ella-Jade, 10, and son, Jackson, 7. “They see me using it to feed my plant and not just throw it down the drain.
“My kids don’t know anything different.”
Moram said it’s paramount parents start teaching their children consumable habits by example, especially during the pandemic with the use of disposable masks, disinfecting wipes and plastic shopping bags.
Chelsea Hammond, mother to six-year-old Hunter, said all the waste over the past 14 months has been tough for her to watch.
“It’s really bothered me a lot.
“It’s bothered me a lot and it’s changed the way that I shop. I only go to places that I know are using compostable packaging,” she said.
All the excess packaging for online orders “hurts me,” commented Hammond.
Hammond noted some of her daily green habits have been derailed during the pandemic. Due to health restrictions, her favourite coffee shop will no longer fill her to-go cup so she has resorted to using their paper cup.
“I’ll take the cup but I don’t want the sleeve,” said Hammond, “I don’t want the cap.
“I still feel guilty about the cup because this is just in my mindset but at least it’s not as much waste.”
Hammond said over the years she has tried to incorporate more sustainable living in the hopes it becomes second nature to Hunter.
Paper doesn’t get recycled until every inch has been coloured by her son. A straw will be reused for a craft.
The mother also shops at thrift stores and consignment shops and said “fast fashion” isn’t her style.
“If you see the amount of water being used and see the amount of travel, it makes you never want to buy anything new ever again.”
Moram also said if buying new clothing, she tries to find items made from organic fabrics, but recognized it’s not always easy as her daughter gets more interested in trendy fashion.
“I’m on the struggle bus right now trying to find that balance of, I don’t want the fast fashion, I really don’t, but how can we compromise and find the clothing that she wants?”
Moram wants families to know that many brand-name clothing companies will recycle fibers to stop them from ending up in a landfill.
When it comes to recycling everything else, Moram stressed families need to stop “wish cycling” — wishing and hoping everything thrown in the bin gets recycled.
“Number six plastic is basically Styrofoam,” said Moram, “it cannot be recycled.
“Most places don’t take plastic bags because it’s hard to recycle plastic bags, they get jammed in the machines,” said Moram, “but they throw them in anyway hoping and wishing but they’re actually doing more damage because they’re stopping the recycling production.”
Again, Moram said choose a few things to change in your daily routine and chances are it will stick.
“When you’re trying to live a little bit more green and implement sustainability, do one piece at a time.”
Like Moram, Hammond suggested families take “baby steps” when transitioning to more eco-friendly choices.
“I think that’s a huge thing that a lot of people are just overwhelmed and they don’t know where to begin and then they feel like it’s an insurmountable task.
“It’s the best we can do, is raise children that are a little bit more aware than we were.”