As a junk removal company in Vancouver, we see a lot of waste. The great thing about our job is that we can take that junk, and make sure it goes to the right place: either for recycling or donation. But, we can’t deny that a lot of waste could have been avoided to begin with. And, often, that’s the type of waste we don’t deal with as professional junk haulers; it’s the stuff that goes in daily trash bins. For example, glass jars that can easily be reused, which we wrote about here.
So, to that end, how does one begin a zero-waste life in Vancouver? It may be a micro trend at the moment, but it’s growing. And, it may not be as hard as you think to get started on this sustainable lifestyle path.
Below we’ll list some resources for going zero-waste in Vancouver:
Start by reducing waste at home: see how it’s done by the zero-waste experts
Going zero-waste is not as hard as it may seem. There are many things you can do in your home to start recycling, composting or just avoiding waste in the first place. For example, start bringing your own bags to the grocery store. Or start buying bulk and bring your own containers to the store (many chain grocery stores in Vancouver have bulk product sections that you might be walking past without noticing them). You can also find out what your city accepts in its recycling bins: it may be more than you think. For example, styrofoam or plastic grocery bags may be accepted in your municipality (though not all). And, starting a compost can be cheap, easy and rewarding – especially if you like the idea of growing your own food!
When you start changing your daily waste-producing habits, you’ll find it’s easier to add on new practices. For example, making your own household cleaners, or switching to reusable straws (or drink from the rim of the cup, instead of a useless plastic straw!). Some zero-wasters even use cloth toilet paper! But if that freaks you out, remember that you don’t have to do this in an ‘all or nothing’ kind of way. Every little bit helps the environment!
To learn more about how the zero-waste experts make their waste-free lives easy, check out these resources:
https://wastelandrebel.com/en/ – a blog on avoiding waste
https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=nYDQcBQUDpw – a video that shows a popular zero-waster producing just a single jar of garbage in two whole years! The video explains how she handles the ‘hard’ stuff, like toothpaste!
https://www.meetup.com/Vancouver-Zero-Waste-Meetup/?_cookie-check=6ZuBpd-1WQWHepre – a Vancouver zero-waste meetup group, where you can meet zero wasters in person, for more education on the topic.
Plus you can type in “zero waste” into YouTube and find lots of vlogs on the subject.
Spend your money sustainably at zero-waste businesses in Vancouver
News is starting to trickle into our Vancouver media, mentioning the expected rise of the zero-waste movement into the mainstream population, and current businesses taking on the challenge already. So while the options for shopping at exclusively zero-waste stores are currently limited, we expect – and hope – that the trend will continue.
Big businesses like these ones, and IKEA are already working towards a zero-waste future, and sell more sustainable products as time goes by. Apparently, they’re already achieving zero-waste in their store operations too. Soon, you may see a buy-back program for your old furniture at an IKEA near you. Apart from IKEA, you can also see that fast-fashion stores like Zara and H&M are starting clothing recycling programs. And Starbucks is working on it’s cup waste and useless, harmful straws problem… In short: stay tuned: sustainable shopping may soon be your inevitable future. But Vancouverites can start now!
In Vancouver, you can buy bulk with your own containers, or expect zero-waste at the following retail spaces:
- https://www.nadagrocery.com/ – a waste-free grocery store.
- https://www.thesoapdispensary.com/ – a place to buy soaps, cleaners and spices in bulk.
- http://www.bulkbarn.ca/en/Home – a fun place to buy lots of things bulk, from baking ingredients, candy, foods, soap and more. In the Metro Vancouver area there are are only a handful of these stores, which you can find here. They will weigh your containers before you fill them, so you only pay for what you put in them!
- http://lupiicafe.com/ – a food-service joint that promises zero-waste and sustainable furniture inside.
- http://www.kpu.ca/tfnfarm/box-a-week and other produce subscriptions – companies in the Vancouver area that run farms can let you prepay for organic veggies (or other foods) in advance through programs called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). While you can still shop at local farm markets just the same, either method may help reduce your waste with those useless plastic produce bags and pre-packaged veggies at chain supermarkets. SPUD.ca and it’s offshoot, BeFresh.ca also offer grocery drop offs and farm produce pick-ups. They also focus on waste reduction in their business practices too.
Plus, there are other businesses in Vancouver that are meeting the waste reduction challenges by a large degree, even if they’re not 100% zero-waste, yet. For example Mountain Equipment Co-Op is doing it’s best, and Clover Salon in Downtown Vancouver achieves 99% waste aversion. You can find more ‘green’ salons on this website, too.
Learn about Vancouver’s zero waste initiatives, and take part!
Recently, Vancouver announced it would aim to be zero-waste by the year 2040. They even made a well-researched report about it, which you can read here. Other communities nearby, and in the province, are doing the same. You’ve already seen the city’s compost pick-up, and now other waste (such as the kind we pick up as junk removal haulers) needs to also be properly handled, for care with the environment. Vancouver also opened up a Zero Waste Centre, where residents can drop off recyclables that the city garbage trucks don’t pick up. For example, styrofoam packaging or batteries.
Finally, spread the news, and make zero-waste contagious!
After you being to live the zero-waste life in Vancouver, you can bet that your friends will notice. You can also spread the word. The City of North Vancouver has a guide on how to plan a zero-waste event (such as for parties). Hold one of those, and you’re sure to impress at least some people!
To conclude, being zero-waste in Vancouver is far from impossible. And, it’s not just for the ‘hippies’ either (if you know what we mean). It’s a logical way to live, and in some ways, even economical. You may like it more than you think!
See more about waste reduction on our blog!
- 9 Essential tools you’ll need if you want to be a furniture upcycler or repurposer
- How to donate furniture in Vancouver and beyond
- The sunk cost fallacy and household junk: how the principle can change your junk-collecting habits
- Kitchen renovation junk you can re-use, or make money from
- Making use of upcycled materials in your outdoor space (some call it junk gardening)