As a Zero Waster I notice when people are producing garbage and I notice when things can be less wasteful. It’s not my fault, it just happens… and even when I am not intending to create guilt, people have this overwhelming guilt flash across their faces when they throw something out in front of me. I truly applaud those that try to be less wasteful both individuals and businesses.
I’m here to share some ways that if you ever decide to be a business you can consider. And if you’re already a business.. just can you for a moment, take the time to consider ways to be greener? It saves you money in the long run, seriously. I don’t need to say this over and over again (or maybe I do) but being conscious and green saves you money. Why wouldn’t you want that, if not for actually caring about.. oh you know.. where you live.
So here is a list of places I have noticed that try to make zero wasting in Ottawa easier and my comments on how they can do better. Perhaps this may inspire the future businesses. I don’t know.
1. Tim Hortons (aka the cheapest coffee franchise, once Canadian but since forever ago American, which made it become less about freshness and quality and more about money. Typical ‘Mericans).
You mostly rock my world because of the new kettle chips. But I can bring my own coffee mug and ask for tea and you’ll put it in there, even through drive through. I just say hey, I want a tea and I have my own mug and no one cares. Your tea bags are completely compostable minus the string. Some tea places like Second Cup have staples in them. It’s annoying because I have to take them out and then what? I save those small things and put them in my damn jar. And then I never, ever want to go back. Anyway, Timmy’s (for those not in Canada eh, Timmy’s is short for Tim Horton’s) also rocks because they put those kettle cooked chips in my container for that time of the month when I’m seriously craving chips and making my own won’t suffice.
How Tim Hortons can do better: When people place their order, ask if they want it for here or to go. If they want it to go, ask if they brought their own mug. This makes people more aware, like oh, shit I should bring my own mug next time! What a great idea! If they want it to stay, put their order on the real plates and mugs available. Too often I see people sit inside the place with their single use disposable cup. Fuck those things.
2. Zak’s Diner
I actually have nothing good to say about this place. It was a mistake to go there other than to tell you if you want to eat at a place that serves crappy food and makes a lot of waste go here. The server was nice though but super awkward about me not wanting to make garbage and all. I think the only reason why I went in here is because we were all hangry and the last time I ate here I was hammered 10 years ago. Apparently the person I was with was hammered the last time he ate there too. Which goes to conclude and confirm that when you’re drunk everything is awesome and tastes amazing.
What Zak’s can do better: I get that they are a diner, but they should take a serious look at how much they are throwing away and what that costs them. Then they need to think about using reusable containers for their sauces, cutting out straws and serving on real plates without all that wax paper.
3. Staples Business Depot
This photo was the one at Woodroffe and Carling, they have these bins where you can drop off your empty pens, markers, ink cartridges, wires and batteries. Except why are there plastic bags in them? Couldn’t they put a cardboard box in there or something? The have tons of them kicking around in store.
P.S. Check out their green commitment HERE.
What Staples can do better: Offer more unpackaged items. Including markers. Except they probably aren’t in charge of what the products come in, which sucks.
4. Bread By Us.
Sorry about the crap photo. I was trying to be a ninja. Anyway, I’m in love with them. They cut up my bread and put it in my pillowcase and tell me I’m awesome. They have toys people donated for the kids to play with. You can get loose leaf tea there although I’ve never tried and when we stay for coffee and snacks we get real plates and mugs. I just have to remind them I don’t need a napkin.
What Bread By Us can do better: Eliminate the plastic bags that the freshly sliced and baked bread is put in. Have paper bags or cloth bags instead. Ah.. so close.
I never buy new from there anymore but the one thing I liked was their toilet paper. I clearly liked it so much I had to take a picture of it. Why don’t all big businesses do this? Which makes me wonder.. if I can make my own toilet paper too…
What Ikea can do better: Eliminate all the plastic bags that hold the hardware like the screws and stuff. Wrap them in paper or something.
6. Flapjacks Pancake House
They got me coming in because they kept liking my Instagram but since I pointed out something about Zero Waste, they’ve been liking me less. Oh well. I still go. I’ve eaten there 3 times now and I bring the food scraps and napkins home. They make jams in house, I love the decor, what they serve the food in, that they have water in mason jars and just the overall vibe.
How Flapjacks can do better: Forget the straws altogether, though they are good at leaving them out when I ask for no straws. And also is it really necessary to wrap the cutlery in napkins with a piece of paper stuck around them? Maybe cloth napkins could work and just leave the utensils loose. Ah.. so close.
7. Simply Biscotti
I was asked to get bottled water for my friends and me being the person I am went in search of bottled water that was not in plastic (not everyone has a water bottle like me) and for some reason knew you would be one of the few that served water in glass bottles. You didn’t disappoint. I think I bought 5 bottles for $11. There are a few Simply Biscotti’s now, but this one in particular was on Preston St. This place is lovely for breakfast, snacks and coffees. They serve on real plates. They were actually also nice enough to fill up my water bottle I had.
How Simply Biscotti can do better: I had to ask the cashier if they had these bottles and she went into the back and got them out. They should put a sign up or have them out in plain sight. And eliminate the plastic that some of the items stocked on the shelves are in. Metal tins holding the yummies don’t need to be wrapped in clear celo.
After doing this zero waste thing for almost 10 months, I’ve realized I need to figure out ways to make this life normal and to make being less wasteful normal. My first dream would be that this life and way of thinking would become normal. Period. My second dream would be to open up a Zero Waste cafe / studio / retail store so I could be the change and maybe inspire Ottawa to be like California. Fuck I wish. Sun. Palm trees…
Better get cracking on that business plan or I’m going to have to move.