My zero waste life - exposed

Boundaries - they are important, right?  In any aspect of life. And I think it’s important to have them in your zero waste life as well.  You gotta enjoy life, and having super rigid rules around it just isn’t all that fun! So I thought I would expose my non-negotiables in zero waste living. I’m simply not willing to give up these things.  We’ve made big changes in life, and I feel really good about where we are at, but somethings I’m not changing. Clearly stubborn if you haven’t noticed 

Cans of La Croix

I can’t give them up. Seriously I’m obsessed with them, which leads to a few cans around the house and at the shop.  La Croix are cans of sparkling water, naturally flavoured, and delicious. Really nothing particularly special about this brand, it’s just my go-to because the grapefruit flavour is soooo good. I love them as an afternoon pick me up, or a non-alcoholic choice with dinner.

So the waste produced is the cardboard box - goes into the recycling bin, and the aluminum cans. I’m not trying to say these are the only items in our recycling bin. There are always a couple of bottles of wine and some orange crush cans from the husband in there as well.

A few fun facts about aluminum: 

  1. It’s one of the easiest recycled materials
  2. Aluminum is infinitely recyclable
  3. Canada’s production of aluminum has the lowest carbon footprint in the world
  4. Recycled aluminum takes 95% fewer resources to reuse (opposed to recycled glass, which uses 33% fewer resources)

A good rule of thumb when getting anything that has packaging - if it has an aluminum can option, get that instead! Cans of syrup instead of plastic squeeze bottles, cans of sauces instead of glass jars, there really are a lot of options in aluminum, use those instead!

Plastic bins of Arugula & cherry tomatoes - gasp.

Before we get into this one, I know that you can get bulk spinach, completely waste-free, which I do sometimes.  But I love arugula. Such a good topper on anything I’m making for dinner, and really good in a salad - no dressing needed when arugula is the base.  We eat a bin a week, and it’s a plastic bin (not great obviously), but it’s been a staple on my grocery list and in our diet so long for a reason - we love it!  So it’s not going anywhere. 

Same situation for cherry tomatoes.  Yes you can get big tomatoes, roma tomatoes, etc.  and we definitely do that. But sometimes, I really want the baby ones, so we get the baby ones.  Leads to yet another plastic clamshell. 

While these clamshells are typically recyclable (they are in Calgary, just give them a rinse), they actually don’t end up getting recycled often, if ever.  Recall the clamshell scandal in Calgary last year? The export market for plastic material is down the drain, and the trading value of plastics is really suffering, eliminating the business case to recycle.

Here are some facts on plastic waste: 

  • Canadians produce 3.3 million tonnes of it each year, 2.8 million tonnes of it heading to the landfill

  • 12% of Canada’s plastic is sent offshore for ‘recycling’.  This means our plastic gets on a truck, to a sorting depot, on to a few more trucks, then onto a ship, then across an ocean, then who the heck knows what happens to it.  Doesn’t sound like any sort of carbon footprint offset is happening here

  • Canadians use 15 billion plastic bags a year

That last point, while unrelated to the plastic clamshells we’re talking about, is staggering to me.  And to be honest - you plastic bag users, I’m judging you a little!  

Reusable bags are so much better - you can jam so much more in them, way easier to carry long distances, aren’t going to rip, tear, and make you swear at the broken eggs on the ground.  Have a couple of reusable bags at your front door, a couple in your car, and shove a little tote in your purse for immediate emergencies. The plastic bags are totally avoidable. Okay, my rant is over :) 

The odd shopping spree 

I can’t quite ditch the shopaholic in me.  An easy offset, at least for the time being, is that I’m currently forgoing a paycheque, so shopping doesn’t happen all that often.  And when it does, I try to thrift. But sometimes, your girl needs to scratch her Artizia itch. Can’t help it!

There’s no sugar coating it - shopping for new pieces is really bad for the environment. Simple.  I’m working on a fast fashion blog post right now, so stay tuned on all of the reason’s why!  

If I’m shopping for something new, here are the boxes I try to check:

  • Natural fibre garment

  • Ethically manufactured 

  • High quality (so that I can wear the piece a million times)

A good rule of thumb is: always look for a higher price tag.  And look for North American made, Italy made, etc. Labour standards are more highly inforced, which increases the chances of the garment worker receiving a “decent” wage.

Mouthwash - regular old Listerine baby

This one I genuinely do feel bad about.  I’ve tried mouthwash tabs, I’ve tried DIY recipes, and nothing does it for me.  My oral care routine isn’t complete without a swig of it and I can’t help it. We’ve already run through some of the staggering plastic waste numbers, and yes my Listerine bottles are contributing to that. 


You gotta live your life

Identifying your non-negotiables, trying to make them as zero waste as possible, and letting go of the judgment, is a good exercise to go through.  If you’re going to buy it anyway, you might as not feel bad about it. Except for the damn plastic bags - seriously feel bad about those.

I’m not trying to say these items above are the only waste we produce.  Not true. We eat meat and cheese and those always have some sort of plastic associated. We have the odd chip bag, snack wrapper, whatever.  But these items are the wasteful items in my life I’m not trying to change, or adapt, I’m just embracing them.

So what do you think?  Am I a fraud? Who knows, but that’s just me, being imperfectly zero waste.  

What are your non-negotiables?  Your wasteful “can’t live without” items?  Give them some thought and share them with me on insta, comment on the blog, whatever your avenue, but I would really love to know!

As always, thanks for reading!



ps - My recycling facts were found from:

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  • Michelle Meagher on

    I was really interested to read that aluminum is better than glass… I’ve read elsewhere that cans are often lined with nasty chemicals. Perhaps just from a recycling standpoint cans are better? Just curious!

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