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Dawn Francom

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!

Live Waste Free

Begun with a Bang! -January’s Waste-

    

Hey Hey! So if you’ve seen my blog post from the beginning of the year, you’ve seen that 2018 is the year of accountability for me! I decided to dive head first into the deep end and go all in! I started a trash jar and am learning so much about what waste I still have in my home! Some things just crept up and I had no clue! Now that I’m aware, I’m actively seeking alternatives and have found a bunch for the most part. I had a few guidelines before I began (listed here) and I tried hard to stick to them and let me tell you, It was not as simple as I had hoped!

     One of the most popular questions I receive from others who want to cut their waste is ‘where did you begin’? My answer is often the same. Do a trash audit. See what you’re using the most of and find reusable options or try to live without that product. It’s easier than you think to analyse, but trickier to stick to the principles. This is how I’m looking at my trash jar now. Being able to collect it all and see exactly what I have, I know to look for my alternatives.

     Some products in the jar (which really, is now a plastic clam-shell from strawberries my husband bought) were things that were already in my house, but that broke or were finished because I used it. Oh and a lot of fruit tags Those sticky suckers really know how to cramp my style.

Here’s the bigger than-I-thought-it-would-be list:

1-) Plastic wrapping from our toilet paper

We used to buy our tp from Costco and still have a few months supply left, because ya know – Costco. Since I use it, I kept the bag to show that I am contributing to waste. Our goal is to find a more sustainable toilet paper wrapped in paper or is naked (not impossible to find). Also, once we move, we’re going to look into a bidet. I’m actually quite enthusiastic for this upcoming change!

2-) Plastic bag from milk

The store I usually buy my bulk milk from had none left this particular day. Which would not have been the end of the world, however, I had a cake to make that called for milk. Typically, I would have just waited it out, but I had a deadline and I was unable to wait this time. Next time, I wait for them to re-up on their order before buying the packaged variety.

3-) Plastic from a co workers coffee gift to us

A friend brought our office back coffee from his trip to Trinidad. It came in a small plastic pouch, so I kept it. Since I thoroughly enjoyed this delicious treat!

4-) Stick from cat toy

Cat’s toy broke. We’re still using the other part. But this was the end of the stick. One day, I swear, I’ll make her own wooden toys, but for now, she’s stuck with this broken toy she loves, a few balls of yarn and more boxes that even she can handle.

5-) Miscellaneous plastic wrapper

I cannot remember, for the life of me, what this is from and it’s really bothering me! GAH!

6-) Vegetable stickers

I try to look for naked fruits and veg, but sometimes they sneak in. No one’s perfect right?

7-) Plastic clam-shell from strawberries

Husband bought, but I ate some. I took accountability for it.

8 -) Lint from dryer

This one’s a bit weird I know. I just don’t think that lint from the dryer is compostable since my clothes have microfibers. I make an honest effort to buy more responsible clothing, but a lot of my old clothes that are still good have these fibers. What I try to do is avoid washing more frequently. It extends the life of the clothes and the majority of them aren’t even dirty. So why wash them? I’ll happily re-wear sweaters, work shirts and jeans for as long as I can! Underwear and socks are a different story, but I have enough to tide me over until I wash my next load in a few weeks. In the summer I hang dry my clothes, so there will be no lint there, but the wintertime is a bit trickier to hang dry. It would take more energy to heat the room it’s in to hang dry items, then it is to run the dryer. I feel that washing less helps this overall impact.

9-) Plastic screen protector from my cell phone

Came with the phone a few months back and finally peeled off. I’m going to be careful to not damage it, but there’s a chance I’m going to get a glass cover protector. I’d rather extend the life of the phone by keeping it protected by buying sturdy products.

10-) Foamy cover from an ibuprofen bottle

I’m human and sometimes have pain. I try hard not to take pills, but other days I can’t help it. My consumption has gone down considerably and maybe one day I won’t take any at all!

11-) Medical tape from some blood tests I had

I couldn’t figure out if it was compostable. I don’t think so. The cotton ball was fine, but this I kept incase. The rest is pretty self explanatory and unavoidable

12-) Floss

I recently found a fully silk one, but I will finish what we have before converting. Rather than wasting a product that’s still usable.

13-) Wrapper from vegetables that were essentially loose

This wrapper held together a bunch of spinach. Its a wire wrapper but covered in a material I can’t quite distinguish. So rather than wishfully recycling (or wish cycling) it, I kept it.  

Not Pictured or Weighed

  • Bag of chips from work

We buy office snacks and I ate quite a bit of these snacks!

  • A small packet of butter from a family supper

I use the leftover butter from a small packet my husband had (at a family supper) and I forgot to bring home the small container. Boo! Avoidable completely!

     Total weight for January batch of waste, including the container itself was a whopping 50 grams! Seeing as how it’s the first month of being accountable, I’m quite happy with this. I’ve learned a lot and fully intend to implement what I have learned. Stay tuned to see how my February goes and how my will power will hold up against Valentine’s day candy! <3

     To follow more closely my journey to being accountable, or even 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!