Ah, the beginning of a new year is so refreshing and optimistic! Though nothing necessarily changes overnight, it feels good to turn over a new leaf and set some goals for the new year. It’s tradition to make a New Year’s resolution; a promise or commitment to yourself or others to change something for the better in the year ahead. For us at The Apothecary, a New Year’s resolution is an opportunity to commit to ourselves and future generations by striving to be better environmental stewards.
Here are some of our favourite sustainable New Year’s resolutions for 2022:
Reduce food waste
Canadians waste 2.2 million tonnes of edible food each year, which collectively costs over 17 billion dollars. It’s not just the food being wasted, either; it’s all the resources to grow and transport that food. It happens to the best of us. You forget about some produce in the crisper, you go grocery shopping without a list, etc. Food waste is devastating considering the amount of poverty worldwide, and it’s also a massive contributor to greenhouse gases. When produce and food waste is sent to landfill rather than compost it doesn’t have the access to oxygen to decompose and it releases methane, a known greenhouse gas. Food waste and loss amounts to 6% of global emissions, three times the amount of aviation.
How can you reduce food waste?
1. Learn how to store your produce. By doing a little extra work after getting home from the grocery store, you can keep your produce fresh for longer, save money, and even save time when it comes to cooking. Check out these resources to figure out how to store your produce:
2. Meal plan. Knowing exactly what you’re cooking that week, how many servings it makes, and which ingredients you’ll need is a great way to ensure that you’re using everything you’re buying.
3. Get creative with your food scraps. Using your food scraps is a very satisfying way to divert food waste, and there are many resources out there to spark your creativity! Check out The Zero Waste Chef or #scrappycooking on social media for inspiration.
Sadly, not all materials can be recycled, and wishfully putting things in the recycling bin when they should really be going in the landfill can cost extra labour, create more waste by contaminating recyclable materials and even break equipment. Help alleviate the strain on the waste management system and learn how to properly recycle in your area! Bonus: once you know what materials can and cannot be recycled in your area, you can avoid purchasing products that come in that packaging.
How can you get better at recycling?
1. Look up your local recycling guidelines. Check out your city or town’s website for information on waste management! If you’re in Calgary, the City of Calgary website has some great resources on what can and can’t go in your blue cart, as well as the comprehensive guide, What Goes Where, allows you to search materials and find out where they go.
2. Inform everyone in your household. Have a family meeting, make a fun PowerPoint presentation for your roommates, or put up some signage by the recycling bin so that everyone in the household is contributing to reducing wish-cycling! The more people who know how to recycle, the better.
3. Don’t believe all packaging. A lot of companies will put the recycling symbol on their packaging, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a widely recycled material! Check if it has a number in the middle and look it up on your local waste management website to find out if it is recyclable in your area or not.
There is power in numbers, and though personal choices do make a small difference, the climate emergency is one that we can’t personal-responsibility ourselves out of. Getting involved in your local organizations and governments is a powerful way to make change and inspire others to do the same.
How do I get involved?
1. Contact your local representatives to voice your concerns on local environmental and social issues. And be sure to vote!
2. Volunteer with local organizations. Community activism creates change and is a great way to meet likeminded individuals.
3. Support organizations and businesses that align with your values. Voting with your dollar and encouraging others to do the same is one of the best ways to support charities and businesses that are working to make a difference.
Supporting local businesses sustains the local economy, supports your neighbours and friends, and also reduces carbon emissions! The closer to home a product is made the better, as it cuts out the emissions and extra packaging associated with shipping.
Ways to find local options:
1. Ask around. Lean on your network to help find local products, businesses or services – chances are someone knows something!
2. Explore your city. Visiting new areas of your city is not only fun and refreshing, but you can discover so many places you never knew existed.
3. Borrow. For items that you may need to use only once or twice (such as power tools, costumes, or formal clothing) check your local network, Facebook groups and communities. Chances are someone nearby has something you can borrow, and you can save your money!
Repair your clothing
Oh no, you got a hole in your favourite jeans! As devastating as this is, it doesn’t mean it’s over for you and your beloved pair of pants. Mending clothes is an awesome way to save money, divert waste from the landfill, and refuse fast fashion!
Ways to fix your clothing:
1. Learn how to sew. A little time and patience will have you sewing buttons, attaching patches, and mending seams. There are so many free online resources that can teach you how to do the most basic fixes to make your clothes wearable once again. Check out Mend It, Wear It, Love It! for some fun and creative ways to fix common wear and tear.
2. Take it to a professional. If you have a piece that you love and will last you for years to come consider getting it professionally repaired! Though it will cost a little more than trying to figure it out yourself, it will cost less than replacing it all together, and you can rest easy knowing that you prevented still-wearable clothing from going to landfill.
3. Have a mending party. Getting together with friends who also have clothing to mend is a great way to motivate yourself to fix them, plus you can pool your skills for whatever you need to fix.
We hope these resolution suggestions leave you feeling inspired to make a change this year. It’s important to remember it doesn’t have to be all or nothing! A little goes a long way, so instead of trying and failing to eliminate items or habits that may be costly to the environment, focus on reducing. Reduce your energy consumption, your fast fashion purchases, your meat consumption, and the amount of packaging you’re buying. Reducing consumption of materials is easier, and often a more successful and sustainable goal than eliminating them all together. You can’t go zero-waste overnight, but you can go reduced-waste!
We leave you with one of our favourite quotes by Anne-Marie Bonneau, author of Zero Waste Chef: