As an artist, this is one of the most difficult areas yet. I have not bought new supplies – canvases, paints, markers – anything – and am in the process now of finding creative yet useful ways to use materials like empty bottles, dead markers and pens so that I can attempt to divert it from the landfill. Useful being the key word. Let’s be honest for a moment, and as an artist I can actually say this – art is not particularly useful BUT it is a form of therapy and a way to brighten up walls and lives. While I can’t and won’t eliminate it entirely from my life I am finding ways to be responsible, sustainable and since my performance – deliver messages about waste issues to audiences that I may not reach via words.
In the past months I have not been perfect. We are not perfect as humans and in reality, 6 months is a very short period of time to drastically change one’s entirely world and lifestyle. In the past few months I have made purchases that have had plastic, as well I have (as mentioned in a prior post) thrown out a small garbage bag separate from my jar that was from before my Zero Waste lifestyle. 29 years of being raised in a society that feeds off of “fast” and “disposable” and also “unaware” has obviously led me to accumulate items that are now sitting in my home making me wonder:
a) What am I going to do with this shit now? and
b) Why the hell did I buy this in the first place?
Which has led me to do a little recap list of places in my home that have undergone change to be more Zero Waste.
Toothbrushes: A bamboo toothbrush that is compostable except for the bristles
Toothpaste: A recipe of coconut oil, baking soda, peppermint oil and since this recipe, I’ve added eggshells (local and organic farm) that I grind up into a powder.
Shampoo, Soap & Conditioner: A castile soap like Dr. Bronners and a home-made shampoo bar that I can also use on my body. My friend makes these and we recently discovered and made a recipe to make your own conditioner. The conditioner I store in the fridge.
Shaving: A reusable razor and blades that can be stored in a Sharps container and brought to a place where they do needle drop offs. I’m lucky to know someone who is a tattoo artist that has one of these with him. I use my homemade soap and later A LOT so my body parts are super slippery and covered before I try to shave. If you don’t have enough soap on you risk getting razor burn or cut. Be cautious when you first attempt to shave with a reusable razor.
Menstrual: A Diva Cup and reusable pads with snaps to keep them in place that my friend made me
Deodorant: A homemade concoction of baking soda, cornstarch, coconut oil and tea tree oil, stored in a glass jar that I keep in the fridge.
Food Storage and Shopping:
– Mason jars for bulk and leftovers
– Cloth bags for produce and bread
– Reusable bags to carry groceries
Dish Soap: A mixture of castile soap, hot water and washing soda and tea tree oil
Bath tub, toilet, sink: Baking soda Pour baking soda, wet a little and scrub. Bought in bulk and stored in a glass jar
Mirrors, faucets and even toilet seat: Water and vinegar and wipe using a cloth, similar to the washcloths that you get for babies. I haven’t found a place to buy white vinegar in glass jar but have found apple cider vinegar. I still have vinegar from before Zero Waste that came in bulk, however I am considering making my own apple cider vinegar to cook and clean with. Stored in a plastic bottle that I had before Zero Waste.
Laundry Soap: Baking Soda mixed with an all purpose home made soap. No fabric softener used after.
4) GROCERY STORES TO SHOP:
This is a place I newly discovered about two weeks ago but I will shop here more often as a co-owner and as someone who is working with the Well to keep them in business:
West End Well Co-op (Hintonburg)
What I buy there:
– it’s a restaurant and a grocery store
– single eggs (you can bring your own carton)
– bulk dates
– bulk pasta (kamut)
– bulk beans & nuts
– Produce like apples, kale, avocado, bananas, tomatoes etc.
Planet Botanix (Bank St.)
– essential oils
– anything to make soap or home-made stuff
– she lets you bring your own containers to store everything
Prior to this place, I mostly frequented:
Rainbow Foods (Britannia)
– great bulk section, but no pasta and no dates
– local yogurt in glass
– toilet paper packaged in paper
– great bulk section – I’d come for dates and some snacks before I found West End Well
Whole Foods (Lansdowne)
– bread and baked goods
– lots of organic produce
Art-Is-In Bakery (Lebreton Flats)
– at the end of the day in the last hour they have 2 for 1 bread for $5
Farm Boy (Britannia)
– baked goods, buns and cheese bread
For advice on how to grocery shop, here is the standard list I bring with me. I have since eliminated any painters tape that I used, and only write on scrap paper and bring a pen with me to jot down bin codes and a permanent marker to write the tares on the bottom of the jar.
5) FOR CLOTHING or SECOND HAND ITEMS:
I don’t buy new. I first thing I do is clothing swaps or visit:
High Jinx (they are moving so I’ll wait to give you their address)
Freecycle (Facebook groups and sites like Trash Nothing etc. to get rid of things as well buy)
These places are great to find dishes or home items.
Or for the real handy if you can sew your own clothes:
Eco Equitable – a non-profit that sells upcycled fabric and products from these and supports newcomers to Ottawa by giving temporary jobs
6) RESTAURANTS TO EAT:
I’m always adding to this list but after a while, you’ll get the idea that anywhere you eat can be Zero Waste as long as you REFUSE first.
7) And finally, here is a post on tips to living a Zero Waste lifestyle, with things that are as simple as getting a reusable water bottle and saying NO to water bottled in plastic.
Hopefully this can be useful to anyone wanting to make a little bit of change to better their world they live on. In the future I will be working on more ways to replace art supplies as well as organize waste clean-ups, with friends like B who say amazing things like “Let’s pick up garbage together.”