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Live Waste Free

New Year – New Goal

Happy New Year everyone and welcome back! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, full of rest and happy memories.

Let’s hop right into it shall we… resolutions. Hate them or love them, we all have dabbled with one or two in the past. I have learned that they do absolutely nothing for me. Whereas some thrive with them. What I enjoy more is trying to make more healthy choices overall: get outside more, less screen time, remembering that self care is important. These small actions are things that I strive for on the regular, rather than setting one specific resolution. I AM however trying one thing that’s fully new and I’m so excited to share. In the past, I have done everything that I can to avoid waste, but sometimes, slip ups happen and I try to go with the flow. This year, I have decided to be fully accountable for my waste. Yes, that means that I too now have a jar sitting on my counter where I will be able to keep all of my waste. I call it my “Oops” jar. I’ll be going through it each month and auditing it in hopes to cut the waste out the next month.

I have a few guidelines that I am adhering to in terms of this jar:

  • Anything that I have in the house already will be disposed of regularly. It’s absolutely minimal anyways since I’ve been cutting my waste now for a few years. I truly believe that within the few months, it’ll all be cleared out and everything will be complete!
  • What my husband brings in is his own. He does a pretty good job with his waste as well, but it’s my thing, not his. I am only accountable for myself.
  • The cat food and litter. The bag for the food is the largest we can find and paper. No problem recycling it. The litter box is recyclable, the bag gets reused for recycling then goes into recycling. The trash litter will get thrown away. It’s unfortunately not compostable, so I’m stuck trashing it.
**If anyone has any ideas to change up this routine, I‘m happy to listen!
  • My business is separate. It’s focused on Zero Waste products to help eliminate trash, but there are small bits here and there. HMMM… Maybe I’ll make a separate jar for this too! Only time will tell!
  • Anything ‘new’ coming into this house will need to be “alternatively new”. Clothes, kitchen appliances, books for schools (I really hope this one will be possible!) will need to be second hand items or repairing anything to the absolute max!
I know this seems like a lot, but it’s really quite fine. I’m so excited to see how this year unfolds! You have no idea! Stay tuned to see how this month unfolds!

Anyone else out there have any Zero Waste themed goals for the next year? Feel free to share in the comments!

As always, for more tips and tricks, 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!

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The Circular Economy: How it’s Zero Waste and why we need it

     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!

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     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.  

     For more tips and tricks, 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!

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Carrot Top Pesto

Hey all! I assume since you’re here reading this blog, you’re either: a good friend of mine who’s doing me a solid by proof-reading before publishing, my mom (who has always been my number 1 super fan) or you are genuinely intrigued by the phrase ‘Carrot Top Pesto’. Regardless of the reason, welcome! I’m happy to have you!

As some of you may know (and have followed), I attempted my very first Urban Garden this summer. With this garden came many challenges and much effort. It also allowed for immense growth, on my part and that of the veggies 😉

With my garden, I was introduced to a new form of Zero Waste revolving around my own personal food chain. I like to consider myself pretty creative and gutsy in the kitchen; always taking into consideration that I need to make sure that whatever I don’t use, I need to at least compost afterwards. Well now, I’m on a whole other level of being aware that most of what I’d just toss into the compost can be used up. Not just used up, but used in a way that’s incredibly yummy and nutritious. By experiencing first hand what it takes to make vegetables grow, I am way more reluctant to just toss out whatever does not appeal to me. Now, the cores and peels of the veggies now get frozen until I’m ready to make a broth and the leafy tops to oddly shaped carrots got used up in a way I never thought of. I cannot take full credit. I did see someone in one of the many Zero Waste groups on Facebook discussing what they could do with their tops. Someone on there mentioned a pesto and I swear, it was a eureka moment for me. Of course! Why not?! So simple and huge bonus points go out because I frickin’ love pesto! So thank you, random person on a post that I saw that one time, in that group surrounding ZW. Thank you for this idea because I now can use up the tops of my carrots in an excellent way!

If you’ve read any of my recipe posts before, you’ve caught on that I try not to use exact measurements. Alter the quantities based off of what tastes good to you. I also go based from how much I actually have lying around. I won’t go out of my way to leave ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder in my jar because the recipe only calls for 2 tsp. You bet I’m tossing it all in there and starting fresh the next time I shop! With this in mind, please enjoy my version of a carrot top pesto!!

 

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of whole salted almonds (they can be crushed almonds of you prefer-it’ll all get chopped in the end)
  • 1 bunch of carrot tops-approximately a cup and a half packed
  • ½ cup olive oil (maybe ¾ cup if you find the mixture too thick)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder

Directions:

Cut the carrots from the stems. Put them aside, because they won’t be used in this sauce.

Wash the carrot tops under cold water. Coming from the garden, they were understandably full of dirt. Do your best to get out all the residue. Once you’re confident that you’re in the clear of crud, pat the stems dry.

You’ll need to grab out your food processor (or use some serious knife skills-which I sadly do not have). Start by pulsing your almonds finely, into tiny chunks. To the nut chunks, add in the stems, basil and oil. Pulse everything together until it makes a green smear against the walls of the food processor. To the smear, add in the rest of the ingredients. Pulse the processor until everything is well incorporated. As stated before, add more oil if you find that the mixture is too thick. Taste as you go. If you prefer it saltier, add more salt. If you want it more ‘basilly’, add another couple of leaves.

Boom. That’s it! Add the sauce to your favorite recipes. I eat it often on cold pasta salad and it’s fantastic!

It’s also noteworthy that leftover sauce freezes quite well. I put the extra in my ice cube tray and once they were frozen, added them to one large Tupperware. I take out the cubes as needed. Enjoy!

For more tips and tricks, 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!

 

 

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Surprise! It Was Zero Waste All Along!

Gather round friends! Let me tell you about something that happened this weekend that was amazing and accidentally Zero Waste!

We all have that one friend (in some cases, many more) who has the exact same views as you and who’s passion is absolutely encouraging! No? Don’t have at least one? Please find one! You’ll thank me later!

So my eco-est friend’s name is Sonia and she’s absolutely epic in her homesteading. I have learned so much from her and continue to do so with every visit. I met her several years ago when I started at my old company. Despite having that company shut down and have both moved on to new professions, we still make an effort to stay in touch.

This weekend, she had hosted a corn roast as a way to reunite with a few of our old coworkers. All in all, the day was incredible. It was so nice seeing everyone again and catching up over delicious food and tasty drinks! The weather was better than it had announced and everyone left with a feeling of satisfaction with the joy of having spent a wonderful day together. At the start, I don’t think Sonia had anticipated for it to be close to no waste, but that’s what ended up happening. With every turn, there was some form of small challenge that we either surmounted together or she ALREADY had a solution!

Here’s how our challenges broke down:

Food: Sonia had made appetizers and deserts using veggies from her garden. We had kale chips galore! And she even treated us to a delicious vegan zucchini bread.

The event was also a potluck, so everyone brought a dish to share or their own food. With all the different diets, it was easiest this way instead of trying to accommodate for everyone’s personal preferences. I had made a lovely bean salad (see here for recipe) that was completely Zero Waste! I even used some of the cucumbers that grew in my urban garden. They were so good!

For the main event, a friend had stopped at a local farm on her way over and bough a GIANT bag of corn for everyone. I believe the bag itself was recyclable and none of the corn went to waste! Legit, no waste from the corn at all! Between everyone chowing down on 40 + corn cobs and us cooking ALL OF 60 STALKS and using everything to the last kernel by cutting off the corn on the leftovers and using them in future meals (or just freezing them), everything was used! The corn husks were added to her compost heap out past her garden and her chickens got to enjoy a large pile of empty corn cobs as a treat. In reality, I’m sure it was about 2-3 days worth of treats for them. We even saved some of the water that the corn was cooked in and she’s going to be making soups with it as her broth. I thought this was GENIUS! It’s basically a veggie stalk, so WHY NOT!? After she got 3 large jars worth of broth, we took the leftover water, put it in a canister (waited a bit for it to cool down) and drenched her plants. She lives on an acre of land and loves plants, so there were plenty of flowers, veggies and fruits that were happy to receive a nutrient rich watering.

Dinnerware: She has this set of plastic plates… I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out. These plates have been used for parties for years now. She has about 20 for such occasions. Yes, one day they will wear down and probably won’t be able to be fully recycled; but if you keep them in good condition, they can be reused quite a few times.  We had also used her regular forks and spoons as well as serving utensils. Along with these, our glasses and mugs were her every day mugs and she even busted out some cloth napkins!

Borrowed items: Instead of going out and buying something to cover us in case of rain, she had borrowed a covering tent (with a mosquito net from her parents). They also had lent her the super large pot and base to cook the corn. So nothing was bought for this occasion. We used her picnic table as a serving/eating table and some of us even brought extra chairs just in case there weren’t enough. There was really nothing in terms of setting that wasn’t planned on being used again for years.

So yep, an amazing day overall that was about 95% Zero Waste (there were a few recyclable items that were brought from the guests’ potluck dishes) and it wasn’t even planned to be! It’s amazing what can happen when things become second nature. Personally, for years before I started this journey, I used to buy plastic plates, cutlery, cups, decorations and party favors. It’s crazy to think of all the waste I used to contribute without even acknowledging/realising it. I look back sometimes and am shocked at what I used to buy with the intentions of throwing it away afterwards. Now I see these things as silly and unnecessary. Why would I want to spend money on something I’m literally going to get rid of? Put aside for a second the waste that amounts with parties like this… Think of the money! I used to budget about 30$ per party in crap that was not needed. It adds up quickly, especially if you really enjoy hosting such events. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m content now not wasting my money on single use items. I’m also extremely happy that I no longer contribute to our culture’s waste epidemic! IT’s really a big win all around!

For more tips and tricks, 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!

 

 

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One Mean Bean Salad

You guys! I made possibly the best bean salad I’ve made in forever! It’s beautiful, delicious, vegan and fully Zero Waste! I decided to go the vegan route on this one because it was going to be my potluck dish for an event my vegan friend hosted. I figured, she’s being so generous and hosting this event at her place, the least I could do was make a dish that she could also enjoy. So I got at it and added all kinds of goodness. The best part, I already had everything on hand and took maybe 15 minutes to prep.

Side note: My beans were already prepped and in the freezer, so it took a simple rinse to unfreeze them and into the salad they went. You can find how I did it here.

Ingredients:

Salad-

1 cup of cooked red beans

1 cup of cooked chickpeas

1 cup of cooked black beans

1 red bell pepper diced

1 yellow bell pepper diced

2 cucumbers diced (you can peel them if you don’t care of the skin)

1 small head of broccoli (about a cup worth) cut into small chunks

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

Dressing-

½ cup of extra virgin olive oil

½ lemon, juiced

½ teaspoon of garlic powder

½ teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of dried parsley

Dash of dried basil

Directions:

Wash and chop all veggies. Toss them all into a large bowl.

Add all dressing ingredients into a bowl and mix. I added mine to a mason jar, sealed it up and shook it like crazy. You can play with the dressing to adjust it to fit your tastes better. I took what was closest to me in my spice drawer and took a chance. It was a good thing I did because it turned out to be a win!

Add half the dressing to the salad mix and store the rest for later. It’ll save for a few weeks in the fridge. Mix the dressing and the veggies together and voila!

You now have a super fresh, simple and delicious dish for any time. I’ve also made this for week lunches and picnics. It’s just lovely.

If you wish to add a non vegan twist, feel free to throw some feta or bocconcini cheese into the mix. Whatever you can find at the fromagerie (cheese store) without packaging. This salad is great both ways! So the next time you’re looking for a protein packed salad and are tight on time, keep this recipe in mind. Bon Apetite!

 

For more tips and tricks, 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!

 

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Urban Gardening – How a Zero Waster grew a few beans -Pt. 2-

Welcome back! Last time, I had shared a bunch about how I started an urban garden, and ya know, have a new appreciation for farmers and love my green beans that I have a bunch of. Today, is all about my challenges. There’s been so many bumps in this road that it’s comparable to Montreal’s infamous pothole problem.

I want to start by saying that despite the difficult periods, I am loving this new hobby. I’ve really come around to the idea of spending a bit more free time on it. After all, it’s a hobby! Hobbies are activities you enjoy and do in your free time! For me to think that I wouldn’t want to spend too much time on it was silly and misguided. The fact that I get yummy food out of it is a gigantic bonus.

Before I started, I had no idea how much/how often I should be watering my plants. I still really don’t. I kind of go with whether or not they look dry, if we’ve had a lot of rain recently or if the leaves have started becoming yellow or brown. I was trying to water them about everyday which was super time consuming, but fully necessary when it was hot. I saw a way online that then altered my watering game for good! Basically, I now use a self-watering system using glass bottles. I had a stash of old clean glass bottles from a sparkly juice that I love. I filled them up with water and dug a small hole into the side of the pot beside the plants stalks. This allows for the roots to drink up the water whenever they need. This has made my watering go from every day to about every 3 to 4 days. I can now go away for a weekend without having them wilt or worry that they’ll die. I do still water the plants manually using a small hose and a bucket, but the self-watering system has really cut down my need.

On the watering front came another challenge that I did not anticipate. Being on the second floor, I did not realize the impact of the weight on the structure of the balcony. Originally, I had all my buckets lined up against my railing, it was super cute and would have been very easy to maintain the way I had it. Within 24 hours, my landlord came out and was like “Hey, sooo, you need to move your plants. The balcony has no support in the middle (between my apartment and the neighbors) and the gallery is starting to droop.” I never even realized that it would be so heavy, but thinking it over, between the dirt and the water, I understood. I had to move just under half the buckets to my front gallery to even out the weight. I also moved the remainder from the railing, to right beside the brick wall where the gallery met the outside of the apartment. It all worked out in the end, but it was  a bit stressful, I thought that after all the work I had put into it, he was going to ask me to get rid of them. I would have cried!

A small something I noticed was the importance of LABELLING YOUR SPROUTS! My goodness! With all the excitement I faced (Yes, excitement! I loved the beginning stages!) I totally forgot to label what I was growing. When everything started to really grow, I was all. ‘Hmmm, I wonder what you are!’ There’s still a few that I’m questioning. Eventually they show and you can figure it out, but it would remove A LOT of the guess work that I had. For example, I thought I was growing broccoli, turns out its peas! The peas had these tiny flowers budding and it reminded me of the tops of broccoli! After they all budded, the peas started growing and I’m all… UMM you’re not broccoli! IMPOSTER! It’s turned into quite a big inside joke and I smile every time I look at them. J But yeah, for the future, label what you’re growing!

Some more trouble I had was at the beginning stages in keeping it 100% Zero Waste. Aside from the packages from the seeds that you read about in part 1 of this blog, I had no clue where to get dirt that did not come in a plastic bag. I still don’t. *If you know how to get plastic free dirt in the city please feel free to email me. I’d love to know!* I had bought the largest bags of dirt that I could find, in hopes that it would be a smaller amount of plastic instead of buying a whole bunch of small bags. It really bothered me at the beginning. If I had a downstairs apartment or my own yard it could have been different. But that’s not the case and I did the best job I thought I could at the time. I did decide however that next year, I’ll attempt to re-add some nutrients to this soil (using fertilizer and compost) in an effort to reuse the dirt.

 

I’ve found that I really need to weight the good from the bag with this project.

 

BAD GOOD
Plastic bags for the dirt Attempt to reuse the product for years to come. Which will eliminate MORE waste from packaging.
Plastic buckets to hold the plants
Seeds from packaging
Glass bottles to water the plants.

 

Saved from recycling plant and made them into a multiuse tool, instead of an almost single use item.

 

I know it may seem like I’m making excuses, but the reality was that this was not a fully Zero Waste project and I am content with the progress that I’ve made.  Now I get the most local vegetables I could possibly ask for. They are organic and fresh and steps away from my kitchen. All these things make me incredibly happy. Legit, I make supper, run outside and grab some beans (and now, cucumbers!), give them a quick rinse and throw them into my supper! It’s amazing! Did I also mention how tasty the veggies are! Because they are! I’ve also grown so many beans that I bring them to suppers as small gifts. People tend to like small gifts and I like that it was an easy gesture to make someone happy.

Those are my challenges to date. Be sure to come back and read part 3 of this blog once more veggies start to show. I can’t wait to share some awesome Urban Garden based recipes with all of you! YUM!

For more tips and tricks, 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!