Anyone who’s been around awhile will tell you that composting is as important a step as any while living a Zero Waste life; and is often overlooked or forgotten altogether. Once we’ve assured that anything has been used up to the max, it will yet again turn items or food into something lovely and rich to help our plants grow. This idea is what’s called a Circular Economy. Making products, using it up fully and rather than simply trashing it, giving it a new life (through re-purposing and reusing the products) or as a fertilizer.
A Circular Economy is where we need to bring businesses who supply us with everyday products, in order to live more sustainably. This linear mode that we’ve created is clearly doing nothing but damaging us. Items now go from idea, to development, to creation, to marketing, to buying, to breaking, to being disposed of and forgotten. Basically most things now are just hanging out in giant piles that we call landfills. Whereas this idea of being in a giant circle, ideas for products take the same route, but eventually can be disposed of in a responsible manner.
Take the simple idea of a toothbrush. The kind I grew up with were made of thick plastic that we threw away once they had no more use. This happened twice per year (per person) in my household, up until a few years ago. That’s a lot of toothbrushes that are just sitting in the big ol’ pile somewhere, doing nothing. Fast forward to today where we apply this circular movement to our shopping. Myself and my husband choose to use bamboo toothbrushes. Once we are done using them, we actually use the sticks in the garden as markers to help label plants and veggies. We also keep a few around the house to help with cleaning. After they have served this second/third purpose, they can be put directly into the compost. They decompose and help create a rich nutrient base for agricultural purposes. Now imagine for a second, every household across Canada doing this. How many toothbrushes would serve new purposes as fertilizer compared to how many are now sitting at the dump. Also, apply this idea to the businesses themselves who make the regular toothbrushes. The plastic ones that would not sell, would eventually be revamped and changed into the compostable kind, since that’s what people would buy *insert angelic and serene music from the movies here*. This is just a small idea for toothbrushes. Apply this exact concept to any everyday item that typically gets disposed off frequently! Go ahead, imagine it. I’ll wait!
Now, time to get real. It’s not all harp music and cartoon birds floating around a beautiful eco-friendly world. When there is a lot of money backing a product, the likeliness of this item being less expensive and therefore, more sought after will be massive. I get it. I’m also on a pretty tight budget and work hard for my money just like everyone else. I will also search out good deals before I buy something. What I do differently is prioritize my spending. I know a bamboo toothbrush is more expensive, but since this idea of creating a circular economy is important to me, I will buy them.
I know what you’re thinking… “But Dawn, how do we get businesses to listen and create more of a sustainable outcome of their products that won’t cost us, the consumer, an arm and a leg.” Well friends, it takes time but ultimately it’s simple. Refuse what they offer until they change. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but every time you make a purchase, you’re basically voting for that product. This then allows the companies to make more products because they have a market. If nobody buys their products for “X, Y and Z” reason, then they won’t have anyone to sell to. They will then be forced to adapt to the new style that we encourage through living a Zero Waste/Eco conscious lifestyle. We refuse what we know won’t decompose or be repurposed and we reuse absolutely anything we can to the fullest. This forces businesses who want our hard earned money to rethink their business model. Meanwhile, the companies who are producing the eco-friendlier products, will be producing more than before. This generates a profit for them that they can then put back into the production, to sell even more and eventually will be less expensive. Of course, I’m not naive. I know not every business will do this, but a lot do. You just need to find one that works for you that you are okay with giving your money to.
You can see it beginning already. How many more products have you noticed in the last couple of years have come out with more sustainable options. Personally, I’ve seen a lot! Also, every few weeks I hear a new story of another new Zero Waste shop that has opened up somewhere. I find this so exciting! I love hearing that there’s such a need that it prompted someone to fill the gap with this kind of sustainable business practice. If you haven’t had a chance already and you are able to go, pop into one of these stores. Check them out, they’re so frickin’ sweet! Offering up everything from bulk food, to organic household cleaners and toiletries!
The world is changing. We as consumers have a voice and it’s being heard and our needs, met. The more products we buy this way, the more will be offered. A little patience is all that’s needed and everything will come full circle.
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