In the first part, let’s look at five ways to prevent and reduce waste: reflecting on your purchases, buying second-hand, bringing your containers to the stores to refill them, and buying in bulk. I’ve included links to make it easy!
In the second part, I invite you to go beyond personal choices to act collectively and demand faster change from our governments.
When thinking about purchases, ask yourself: do I need this? Does this person I’m getting it for need it? Kathryn Kellogg, my favourite zero-waste blogger, has this simple and powerful rule: wait 30 days before purchasing something. You might find an alternative or even forget about it! Which is a sign that you didn’t need it.
If you do need “that,” try a thrift store. My favourites in St. John’s are the Salvation Army across the Avalon Mall, Neighbourhood on Torbay near Coleman’s (LOVE their customer service), ReStore and Previously Loved, both very close to each other on Kelsey Drive. PLUS! By purchasing you’ll also support their social missions.
Go to Bulk Barn (15% discount on Sundays for your refillables) and Food For Thought. You might need to leave your containers and come back another day so our lovely Nancy will have time to fill them up with her amazing goodies. Stores don't always specify what products are available in the refill system. Call or visit to ask.
Tval will refill with skin products and The Natural Vibe will refill them with dish detergent, shampoo, and other personal use products. Both shops are on Water Street.
My place to go is G. J. Shortall in Mount Pearl. I usually buy large bags of flour and beans. Here is a non-local option: Nellie’s, a cleaning company that sells huge buckets of laundry detergent. We (a family of two adults, one kid, and one cat) bought the 500-load bucket and it has lasted almost 6 years! I’m sure we’ve saved lots of money too.
Sustainability must be the norm so that it’s not about individual choices that depend on preferences or socioeconomic status. For that, we need governments and corporations to make responsible decisions to support an economy and jobs that are truly sustainable. And that's a hard nut to crack!
My journey has been full of joy and frustration, especially when I see our governments making decisions that dismiss the climate crisis and allow for the extraction of oil, the plastic raw material, the very thing we’re trying to prevent. Furthermore, those irresponsible decisions make me feel like I can’t make a difference in the world.
But, there is always hope!
For me, hope comes through initiatives like the Social Justice Co-operative of Newfoundland and Labrador, an out-of-this-world grassroots organization that got the City of St. John’s to declare the Climate Emergency in 2019. The Co-op recently created Climate Action NL, “a passionate bunch who loves Newfoundland & Labrador, works to protect people and the planet and advances the rights of nature.”
Don’t worry at all if you’re unsure where to start. That’s part of the journey, and I’m here to support you!
Reach out to me to learn more about zero waste or ways to get involved in collective work, especially if you have never done it before. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bio Photo credit: Tania Heath at Georgestown Community Composting, St. John's.
Viviana Ramírez-Luna is a Colombian/Newfoundlander & Labradorian, Environmental Scientist, Mom, Founder of Planeet Consulting, Zero Waste Consultant, and advocate.
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