All Posts By

Dawn Francom

Live Waste Free

Zero Waste Shawi

       

     If you follow my social media, you may have noticed that I made a big change recently. My husband and I decided that it was time to try to live a simpler life. This, for us, meant moving away from Montreal to a much smaller town. We now proudly call Shawinigan home.

     In general, I’ve adjusted well to the change. I sleep better, I eat better, I’m outside way more often. It’s rather incredible! The tougher situation of this change is on the Zero Waste side. I’m basically starting from scratch. Back in Montreal, I knew where to go, I know who accepts jars and who to avoid. I have my favorite stores to visit. Here, I need to start over completely. Despite our best effort, we still find ourselves filling up the recycling AND garbage bin (mainly because we still haven’t found a composting site… YET). At first, I was quite bummed out by this and thought it would be hopeless. As if all my previous effort was gone to waste (pun intended). This feeling of self pity however, did not last long. I care about my projects and really wanted to succeed in them. I have since taken this seemingly dreadful news and turned it into a new super challenge! And let me tell you! I was pumped!


     First thing was clear, I needed to find places that would allow me to shop Zero Waste. They did not need to fully understand what Zero Waste was, but they needed to let me do my thing. The info will come, since I DO NOT stop talking about it 😉 First store on my list was an easy one: Bulk Barn. There are Bulk Barns in many cities (big and small) and luckily enough, we have one too! I brought all my jars for the first big shop and chatted about Zero Waste with the clerks (as well as activities to do in the area). They had no issues helping me out by taking the tare of the jars and to my surprise, it was one of the most pleasant experiences I’ve had in this store…EVER! Not to say the previous experiences were bad, they were just less memorable for me.  The clerks were so kind and so chatty that it felt so comforting.     

     During this hunt for new stores, I have uncovered a few places that flat out refused my containers, but seeing as how this is not my first rodeo, I was used to rejection at the expense of my own containers. I decided to remain optimistic and continue on! I began seeking out smaller stores and bakeries and kept on asking. Persistence was truly key here. Eventually I found a small bakery that has no problem with my bag for buns and breads. Bonus points go to it being across the street from my new employer and absolutely delicious! SCORE! While on this treasure hunt, I also found a shop that not only sells kombucha, but they make it in house! Making it super local! This place is great! Delicious flavors and they even have a consignment on their bottles. So we bring the glass jars they offer back once we’ve finished and we can take a fresh one. These jars will then get washed and sterilized and stay in circulation as long as they are usable! Much like our own jars and bottles! DOUBLE SCORE!


     These 3 small wins felt incredible! I’m no longer feeling bummed out by my lack of ZW options, I see potential here. It’s all about getting creative and not giving up! I am also incredibly excited for the summer time. Local produce will be everywhere! Much more local than previous options and direct from the farms. At the moment, it seems to be too early in the season for farms to open their stands, but I certainly look forward to when they do!

     Ultimately, this move has done wonders for us. It’s only been 3 weeks but I already feel comfortable and I’m quite happy with the choice that we made. Zero waste is still a lifestyle I intend on striving for and I definitely won’t be giving up on it anytime soon.

     

     For more stories on this new chapter of my Zero Waste journey, or for general tips and tricks follow along on my Facebook  Live Waste Free at  or check me out on Instagram at @livewastefree.

Take care! Until next time!  

Live Waste Free

A Minimal March

 

    March has come and gone and I think it was my least wasteful month yet! I am genuinely impressed with my efforts. I am beginning to feel much more confident in my choice of lifestyle and I feel less strained in making educated decisions. Before, I used to feel almost deprived. As though I was refusing myself, stuff that I enjoyed, in the name of reducing my waste. I decided to not dwell on this and change my views. I now look to my cravings for inspiration. For example, a big thing I miss are chips. It is crazy how often I crave those crunchy-salty delightful crisps. Now whenever I get these cravings, I seek out an alternative. I make popcorn and put on some popcorn toppers that you can find at bulk barn or can make yourself! I also have turned to crackers or other chip like snacks that I can find in bulk. Pretzels are also wonderful craving cravers in moderation. All found in bulk! YES!

     One thing I struggled with, yet again is cheese. I’m trying you guys. I really am! For my dad’s birthday, we had him over for supper and I know how much he likes brie and how rarely he eats it. So I served some up with crackers as an appetizer to help make his day more special to him. At the time, I could not find it in bulk, so I bought two wheels for the occasion (we had multiple people come over that day). Other occasions, I chose to make vegan nacho cheese, which is incredibly simple, delicious and I found all the ingredients in bulk! I just need to focus on the change that I want to make and stop making excuses. I will get there sooner rather than later. I just know it!

     For now, let’s take a look at what’s in my jar this month. Unfortunately, I did not have an opportunity to weigh it, but it was significantly less in terms of volume! I am so encouraged to continue applying everything that I learned and implement it into my day-to-day life.

1-   Two Brie wrappers (dad’s birthday mentioned above).

2-   Plastic that went around some organic bananas. I feel this is crazy that organic items need to be marked with plastic wrapping. It’s quite unfair.

3-   Vegetable stickers. I feel as though these always sneak into my home. I try to choose veggies without them. Time to start shopping more often at the farmers market!

4-   Dryer sheets. Last month I upgraded to compostable dryer balls. These were the last two I had. Now that they are all used, I will not be turning back!

5-   Sticker from a shampoo bar. I shopped quickly this day and just grabbed the bar. When I got home, I saw a sticker. Woops!

6-   A ring from my milk. This particular day, there was no bulk milk in stock, so I bought milk in a glass jar on consignment. This milk brand had a small plastic ring around the cap. Overall, I’m happy with how little milk I actually bought this month. I am getting better every day!

7-   Dryer lint. As summer approaches, I’ll be using my dryer less and less. Aside from line drying or burning this (which I do not fully feel comfortable with because of the micro fibers in my clothing), I have no solution for this item.

Much less than the previous 2 months and I am so happy with this!

     I also want to take this opportunity and say that I decided on not doing a jar for the months of April, May and possibly June.  We are moving and I have started packing everything up. Although, I still do everything that I can with food and being responsible to dispose

of anything old and unwanted, there is bound to be more trash in this process than can fit in a jar. I just know it.

(Just below, you can see all the trash I’ve produced in my three months)

     I like to think that minimalism and Zero Waste go hand in hand. Minimalism being the state of mind and being content with what you own and Zero Waste being the actions we take in living this way. There is however, a first stage before the two that I am working on; decluttering. I have begun selling old furniture that I do not intend to use in the next apartment. I am also taking this chance to purge whatever I do not use/want in order to create a more open flow of space in my home. Once we are settled in our new place, I will take it back up again. I pinky promis! 

     Of course I know that some people prefer to have things around them to feel comfortable, and that is fine for their lives and it is fully their choice. I had also lived that way for the majority of my life. Moving forward, I am choosing to go the opposite route that I have for so long. My idea is that through decluttering, I will learn to appreciate more what I do have. I do not need many belongings to feel happy. Already through this process, I feel much calmer. I feel less stressed and spend much less time cleaning. Once I am settled, I will practice more minimalist and Zero Waste, just as I had before and continue to be accountable for my waste. I will also be making more eco-friendly choices in terms of furniture and household items.

        I hope you enjoyed hearing about my March and my plans for the immediate future. For more tips and tricks, head over and like my page on Facebook Live Waste Free. Where you will get daily ideas to keep you going on the Zero-Waste path. Or follow me on Instagram @livewastefree for random pics and funnies!

 

Live Waste Free

A Faulty February


     Another month has come and gone. It was filled with new experiences and its fair share of struggles. February was a ROUGH one for me. Many personal issues made it hard to focus on my goals to reduce my waste. I had a hard time with being motivated to meal prep and to make some choices that I know I should have made. I found myself down and simultaneously overwhelmed with everything at once. My personal issues played a large factor in this month’s trash. 

 

Below is my official list from February 2018:

1- The seal to a salad dressing. I was hoping that since t

he bottle was glass (and I intend to reuse it for more dressings) that it wouldn’t have a seal. I was clearly wrong.

2- 4 small plastic coffee creamers from work. My milk happened to run out on one particularly tough day (I do bring my own to work that I buy from bulk) and it was one of those days that called for coffee.

3- Plastic tag holder from a new shirt I bought. 90% of the time, I do second hand clothing, but this once I allowed myself to buy a new shirt. It came with one of these tiny tags.  

4- A paper/plastic bracelet from the spa. I had a wonderful day with my mom at the spa this day, but it came with a bracelet showing that we had access to a specific space.  

5- A Bandaid.

6- The sticker came off of my squeezy toothpaste container. We refill the toothpaste from bulk and reuse the container. I don’t like putting toothpaste into a jar because I’m too lazy to scoop it out. This keeps it easy and is reusable.

7- 2 cheese wrappers. We decided to buy this extra large cheese from a bulk store and we cut it and froze it in slices, to avoid smaller packaging while saving a bit of money. Next month, this shouldn’t be a problem since we still have a bunch left.  

8- A package for a tea from a restaurant. Again, I was hoping for the best, but it still came in this packaging.

9- Protective plastic from another sauce. Bought in a glass jar that I intend to reuse and refill at my local bulk stores.

10- Fruit stickers.

11- The handle from my brush that I keep at work. It broke off 🙁 The head still works and I intend to keep using it until it fully gives up.

12- Toothbrush bristles. We have bamboo toothbrushes, but the bristles are plastic. In order to put the handle into the compost, we need to remove the bristles.. *I’m open to any suggestions in finding a toothbrush that uses natural bristles* HELP!

13- Dryer lint.

14- Dryer sheets. I’m happy to say that we finally used up the last of them! We’ve since switched to using natural wool dryer balls. So there will not be anymore after the March jar! 😀 YAY!

     So that’s that for February. A total of 49 grams of trash. I’m finally feeling better and more centered and realigned with my goals (thank you meditation and yoga). I’m going to keep moving forward and continue to try my best at reducing my personal waste. I have decided to add a few extra goals to the list as we’ll and see how it all goes. 

March 2018 Goals:

  • Reduce my intake of dairy products. Many years ago, I decided to go vegetarian because I didn’t want to be a part of the problem with the amount of waste that factory farms produced. I’m finally at the point where I feel comfortable with reducing my dairy intake in a step to even further reduce my carbon footprint.
  • Get the hang of making my own sauces. I love cooking and do a pretty good job, but I can always improve and get creative with it.
  • Meal prep more.

     To see how the next month unfolds, or for tips and tricks to living Zero Waste, head over and like my page on Facebook Live Waste Free. Where you’ll get daily ideas to keep you going on the Zero-Waste path.

Or follow me on Instagram @livewastefree for random pics and funnies!

Live Waste Free

Dumpster Diving Extravaganza

 

 

I tried something new a few weeks back. It was adventurous. It was rebellious. It was a little bit dirty and just on the edge of dangerous; and it was freaking awesome! Let me paint you a picture. I’ve been taught all my life that once things are in the trash, they’re no good. Which in theory is pretty sound practice. Except sometimes, people trash things based off of rules that may not always be relevant. For example, best before dates on products in grocery stores are largely just sell before dates. The store has to sell the items before this date to avoid selling perished goods. Makes sense right? The store doesn’t want to harm anyone by selling them food that’s turned; but what about the food that’s still perfectly fine yet, it has this date? They still have to trash it! This is where Dumpster Diving comes in!

     A coworker and I were discussing food waste recently. We both work together at a Zero Waste Grocery Store in Montreal. We’re both pretty good in keeping our waste to a minimum and seeing as how we both love working for this amazing company, it’s clear we had the same ideals when it comes to our negative output. We were putting out the compost when the discussion of dumpster diving came up. I was telling him of the movie “Just Eat It” where a young couple decide to spend 6 months only eating what was wasted. It showed them going through dumpsters and pulling out piles and piles of perfectly good food that a number of companies just tossed away. He mentioned how he’s done it a couple times before and that we should try it together sometime! Clearly I was down. Even if I couldn’t get past the wall that was created in my own mind, that was telling me this was icky and that I shouldn’t touch anything, at least we would have shared this new experience. So we had the idea and we made a plan and invited a friend each to join in on the fun. We aimed for a night that was supposed to be cold because it’s basically like a giant fridge outside. There would be less spoilage in our minds. I wanted to try this at least once in my life. The couple who did the documentary were actually the same couple who inspired me to go Zero Waste in the beginning. Being made aware of all the wasted food products around the world was incredibly shocking to me and I needed to see it first hand.

     The day finally arrived and we got ready to head out on our mission. I don’t feel comfortable mentioning which store we went to, but you should know that there’s legitimately a map on google that shows dumpsters that are available for this. It’s probably one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time.

You can find it here: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1Mrqn74LBNi7TELf7D4bukTgxMrs&hl=en_US&ll=45.53302282848061%2C-73.59178619121684&z=13

     The area was very well lit from street lights and the store itself. We all surrounded the dumpster as if we were about to attack it and just like that, she was gone. My coworker’s friend had just hopped right in like a seasoned pro. Up and over and she didn’t even skip a beat! Now this dumpster was about 7 feet tall, had no proper place to hold onto or to climb. She pulled herself up using a small ledge on the side and poof, she was gone into the near empty dumpster. We had each taken up space on the side to help grab items out. To collect everything and of course, to help her out afterwards. We were in and out within 10 minutes.

     Once we got back to my friend’s place, we were able to see just what treasures we had! Let me tell you. I was in shock and awe. I COULD NOT believe how much we gathered of still good food that night.

Here’s a detailed list of the goods keeping in mind that we were only there for 10 minutes:

  • 17 dozen eggs (after we picked out the cracked ones)
  • 6 yogurt in glass jars
  • 9 packets of 500 gram cheese
  • 6 bricks of marbled cheese
  • 2 coffee creamers
  • 2 full cases of yogurts in the cups
  • Chocolate milk
  • 2 yogurt with crunchy bits
  • 1 large bag of probiotics yogurt
  • 4 Philadelphia cream smoothies
  • 1 tube of Pillsbury cinnamon roll

 

    The biggest shock to me were the eggs. Mostly free range and it seemed as though there was a spill or something on the cartons because they only expired February something (we did this back in January). Or maybe a top dozen had broken and all the cartons were now soiled because of this. This was the case for 2 large boxes. Another contained many dozen eggs, but one egg had been cracked, so the dozen was tossed. We tossed the bad ones into the compost bin, gathered the good ones, washed everything and sorted through the piles to make an even distribution. We were 4 people and my husband and I ran off with 7 dozen eggs (I’ll pause here to let that sink in. 7. DOZEN. EGGS.) along with many other treats.

     For a first time experience, I could not have asked for a better time. It’s been awhile now, all the food has either been eaten since or frozen (did you know you can freeze cheese?). I, my husband and my friends have not gotten sick in the process. I drank both cartons  of the creamer and shared with anyone at work who wanted some. They eventually both went and nothing was wasted after all. I’ll definitely be trying this again sometime, at least during the colder months.

     I hope you enjoyed this story, I’m very happy to be able to share my experience with you. If you’d like more tips and tricks to living Zero Waste, head over and like my page on Facebook Live Waste Free. Where you’ll get daily ideas to keep you going on the Zero-Waste path.

Or follow me on Instagram @livewastefree for random pics and funnies!

As a final note, I would like to add that this could be dangerous. It was icy that day and we could have slipped and fell. Or gotten stuck in the dumpster without a proper way out. If you choose to try it out, please be safe. The dumpsters are designed to keep people out because they don’t want us to get hurt. I do not believe that these big corporations are evil geniuses trying to keep us from the goods. They just don’t want anyone to get injured because of their practices. Be safe friends xo.  

Live Waste Free

No Spend Month

     

 

     Welcome back! Let me ask you something, have you ever tried to commit to something you know you’ll struggle with, just to see how far you’ll get? Well this was me for the whole month of January (I know I’m late in posting this blog :P). I decided I wanted to try to give this ‘no spend month’ a go and see just how far I’ll go without cracking. I find the idea of non consumerism and Zero Waste go hand in hand, so I figured… why not?! Let me tell you, it was NOT easy and I definitely did not achieve what I sought out to do. This being said, I learned a lot about my own spending habits and my limits. All in all… a pretty eventful month.

The rules I set were simple.

1) Regular bills (rent, hydro, car payments, savings, insurances, etc) do not count. They’ve already been minimized as much as they can. Trust me!

2-) For stuff like groceries and other basic necessities, I had a budget that I tried to follow closely.

3-) I do not buy anything new (as a general rule, I shop second hand if I absolutely NEED anything).

4-) Rather than going out to eat/party, I encourage something that’s free or done at home  to avoid the extra costs.

     For the most part, these rules did work for me. We had board game nights with family and held suppers with friends for entertainment. On more than one occasion, my activity was going for a swim at the local indoor pool or for a walk, even when it was cold. It got me out of the house and it kept me active. On one particularly frigid night, I tried my hand at homemade hot chocolate for a friend and I… easier than it sounds and surprisingly delish (recipe here)!

     Speaking of walking, I really got in the spirit and even decided to start walking to work, despite the temperature. If you’ve spent any time this month in Montreal, you know exactly how challenging this aspect was! I’m usually really lazy, but this felt amazing to commit to. I wasn’t able to do it every morning. Some days did not permit it at all, but I made a solid effort to relax on the gas. Not solely for the cost of it, but everything. In general I try to use my car as minimally as possible and this challenge really encouraged me to prioritize when I actually NEEDED it versus when I WANTED it.

     Our groceries were the usual and primarily Zero Waste (at least mine were) and we tried to eat more from the stock in our freezer which needs to go at some point anyways. This helped SO MUCH! I never realized how much food our deep freeze held until we were 2 weeks in and have only bought items like fresh fruits, Kombucha, milk and candy. It also helps that I don’t eat meat and love legumes. Dried beans and lentils cost so little and are easy enough to add to so many meals to create a balanced diet. If you want to cut costs in your grocery order, I suggest learning how to re-hydrate these bad boys (link here).

Downfalls

     Within the first few days of my challenge, I found myself to be particularly lethargic and was too easily convinced to go out for breakfast. I was lured with the idea of deliciousness I did not have to cook or clean myself. Strike one.

Other stuff/events I spent on:

  • Headlight bulb for my car
  • Clippers for my cats nails (rather than going to the groomer once a month)
  • Breakfasts with husband (X2)
  • Lunch out (X1)
  • Supper with Vince (X2)
  • Supper with friends (X1)
  • Ordered in with co-workers *it was a big thing and I’m so happy I decided to participate (X1)
  • Textbook for school (second hand – bought from kijiji for less than  ⅓ of the new book’s cost)
  • Reusable Cake Box/Cover (could not find used, so I bought new – with a discount coupon)

     Finishing up this month, I have a way better understanding of myself and my own personal limits. I feel great in that I gave it a shot and worked hard at finding alternatives. When I was younger and had no concept of a budget, I would spend spend spend. On CRAP! Nothing I needed and caused so much waste in the process. Living in the Zero Waste lifestyle has really taught me to prioritize what I need and that there are almost always alternatives that suit you and your needs.

     At the end of the day, I’m incredibly proud of what I was able to accomplish this month and although I may not be as strict on myself in the upcoming months, I’m happy I did this and will keep this challenge in mind for future purchases.

For more stories like this, or general tips and tricks for living Zero Waste, head over and like my page on Facebook Live Waste Free. Where you’ll get daily ideas to keep you going on!

Or follow me on Instagram @livewastefree for random pics and funnies!

Live Waste Free

Easiest. Hot Chocolate. Ever!

Welcome back! I have exciting news… I figured out how to make hot chocolate and it’s basically the easiest thing ever! It’s been awhile since I’ve had one. The only way I knew it growing up was either in small pouches or in a giant tub. Both of which create waste and are basically just sugar mixed with flavors. Delicious sugar mixed with delicious flavors mind you, but it’s all completely processed. So if you’re looking for a nice treat to help warm yourselves up on during these icy times, without adding to your trash bin, look no further!

Time: 5 minutes max

Serves: 4

What you’ll need:

1 small pot

1 metal whisk

 

Measuring utensils of choice

Ingredients:

2 cups of water

4 cups of 2% milk

1 tsp of vanilla essence (yes, I found this in bulk 😉 )

1/2 cup cacao powder (I had the dark kind because that’s what was offered in bulk section)

4 tbsp sugar

Directions:

First, add all the liquid ingredients to your pot and put on high. Cover and bring to a boil whisking sporadically. Be careful that the liquid doesn’t boil over. Speaking from experience, it’s not pleasant!

Once you’ve reached your boil, turn down the heat to low-med. Add the powdered cacao and sugar. Whisk constantly at this point to avoid clumps. Whisk until it’s all dissolved and well combined. It should take about 2 minutes.

That’s it! You now have a delicious treat, with no waste and is perfect for those chilly nights. You can use this as the base and add any other flavor you want. Some ideas include, but are in no way limited to:

  • Whipped cream and sprinkles
  • Marshmallows
  • Creamed liqueur
  • Cinnamon
  • Coffee
  • Wanna try a vegan version? Use coconut milk or almond milk instead!

The list can literally go on and on. The next time, I think I’ll add a pinch of salt to see how that fares. There we have it friends, the simplest and tastiest hot chocolate base you’ve ever tried. I hope you enjoy this!

For more recipes, tips and tricks to help live a Zero Waste lifestyle, head over and like my page on Facebook Live Waste Free. Where you’ll get daily ideas to keep you going on the Zero-Waste path.

Or follow me on Instagram @livewastefree for random pics and funnies!