This blog post includes the Q & A component of the Zero Waste Bulk Shopping Info-Session hosted by the UVSP with guest speaker Sally McIntyre, an employee at Zero Waste Emporium and the chair of Surfrider Foundation Vancouver Island. This event was hosted on December 14, 2020.
Questions from the work-studies:
"What are some key tips for those who want to start minimizing their waste?"
Look at your trash and see if there are areas where you can reduce your waste in
Use up what you already have first before going out to buy new zero-waste products
Share with one another useful tips/resources you find about living minimally
“What are your go-to zero waste items and/or zero waste practices? What are you looking for when you are going to buy something new?”
Buy something that you’re going to use every day and is useful
A food container, especially ones made out of steel, as those are very versatile
Something to clean dishes with, such as a bottle brush with wooden handles
Things you can’t easily DIY
Beeswax wraps to help prevent food waste
Bamboo toothbrushes (Side note: Only the bamboo handle is compostable. The bristles are plastic and has to be plucked out with pliers and recycled after finishing with the toothbrush)
“What are some key tips for those who want to start shopping in bulk?”
Having a list before coming into the store
Calling the store if they have it in stock before actually going in
Come in with pre-washed containers or bags (Zero Waste Emporium has pre-weighed containers that others have donated that you can use, as well as jars for you to use that is by deposit)
Be prepared when coming in
Don’t be intimidated or afraid to ask questions; all the workers at zero waste stores want to help you
“When you were looking for jobs, what were some key company values and practices that you were looking for?”
Sally came to Vancouver Island after the completion of her masters degree and began volunteering with Surfrider Foundation. She then worked with a consulting company, but realized that her workplace didn’t have the same values in terms of environmental conservation. She decided to switch gears last year and apply to Zero Waste Emporium.
Sally talked of how important it is that no matter what work you do, that your work environment shares the same values as you. Since you spend every day with them, it’s important to make sure it’s healthy for you and you’re passionate about what you do.
Sally works at Zero Waste Emporium because of passion and purpose. With working at Zero Waste Emporium, she is helping people transition their life and building community by talking about lifestyle changes.
“When looking at the entire sustainability and environmental movement in the current climate, it looks very white. How do you practice anti-racism in the zero waste community? How can we diversify this movement?”
“People that look at this movement usually see it as new and trendy, and people usually jump it on because it’s trendy and not making the connection between the environment and the movement. We need to recognize where these ideas come from in order to diversify and decolonize it. A lot of these ways of living have been around for thousands of years. For example, Sally has a friend from India who already had stainless steel containers. He came from a city where people were already living this way for generations and making things from the plants around them and not terminating anything. It is important to recognize the people that have done this for generations, and involve them more in conversations. To live how our ancestors did and the people who were on this land. When you look deeper, zero waste isn’t revolutionary. Zero waste is a lofty goal for us, and it’s hard to say that anyone’s able to fully do that right now.”
Q & A from the audience:
“Do you have any recommendations for zero waste gift wrapping?”
Using materials you already have in the home, such as tea towels
Furoshiki- Japanese wrapping with cloth (looks pretty and is useful)
Craft paper (it’s compostable!)
Beeswax wrap (useful afterward)
Cloth produce bag (useful afterward)
Give the gift naked
Do it in a creative way, such as a scavenger hunt
“What are your thoughts on if Costco is sustainable?”
Depends on what it’s packaged in (ie paper wrapping is more sustainable)
Some people that shop at Costco thinks that it's less expensive but they're hoarding all this food and has to throw it out because they can’t finish it all in time
“Is a sale great if you have to buy 5 and have to use it in time before it expires?”
“Where's the waste going to? Landfill or compost?”
“Do you think zero-waste shopping is affordable, and how can you make it affordable?”
Seeing what you have already
Do you really need it? Is it going to be revolutionary?
Don't be distracted when you go in; going in and leaving with what you need
Depends on if the foods are organic and seeing what you can afford. This in itself can be a socioeconomic barrier on why some people cannot buy this food
Fill in the gaps of what you don't have that you need to buy
Being on track with what you need instead of being distracted
“Do you think the zero waste movement encourages the thinking that it is the individual’s responsibility to “fix” these greater issues? How can the government/industry etc be held responsible for our one-use culture?”
Change has to be on all levels. It’s hard because consumers have free will and can make choices on their own accord, but sometimes marketing can get people to act differently. Individuals' actions have an impact, but there has to be a bigger change on those that manufacture these products to find sustainable alternatives. We as a society have to analyze what's actually ‘sustainable.’ People think biodegradable plastics are sustainable, but they’re not because a lot of the composting facilities can not handle these materials. It’s on the producer to find sustainable alternatives and ask “what kind of society do we live in and how will the product add to people's lives.” Also, governments need to have regulations. A lot of recycling doesn’t really work because it’s mostly going to go into the landfill. In order to influence governments and producers, we need to put pressure on them and demand change as consumers. Companies want to hear what consumers want, and if they don’t hear feedback, they won’t change. Doing what you can individually is going to make an impact on your region and your locality.
“What is available for low waste flossing?”
Zero waste emporium carries silk floss by Ola Bamboo (it isn’t refillable, so you have to recycle the packaging) and Dental Lace (glass tub that you put the silk floss in, and you continue adding refills in).
Location of Zero Waste Emporium in Victoria, BC:
Author's Note: Thank you for reading and I hope you found this summary helpful! We at the UVSP hope to see you at our next event! Follow us on Instagram, FaceBook, and sign up for your monthly newsletter that can be found at the bottom of the Home Page to stay up to date on what we do. Happy New Year everyone!