Waste Reduction Week has started and is running from October 18 – 24, 2021. Last year we focused on one day of the week, looking at how to upcycle t-shirts and reduce textile waste. This year, we are going to briefly share each theme day with you.
What is Waste Reduction Week?
Waste Reduction Weeks began happening around Canada back in the 1980’s but, 20 years ago in 2001, Waste Reduction Week became official. With a focus on a circular economy, Waste Reduction Week is a national program run by the Circular Innovation Council.
Waste Reduction Week in Canada is a year-round program, focused on the principles of circular economy, resource efficiency, and waste reduction. The program’s primary purpose is to celebrate our environmental efforts and achievements while encouraging new innovative ideas and solutions. The celebratory nature of the campaign is what motivates learning and behaviour change.Waste Reduction Week – About
Why do we need a Waste Reduction Week?
From using up all of the world’s natural resources to individual overconsumption, we have a waste problem. People have become consumers with little knowledge of what goes into the things we are buying. Not only this, but our over-consumption is creating a situation that our planet will no longer be able to handle.
Watch The Story of Stuff to find out more about the systems that surround our stuff.
Waste Reduction Week Theme Days
Each day of Waste Reduction Week focuses on a specific area of waste creation.
Monday: Circular Economy
Even though every day has a different topic, each day of Waste Reduction week will be presented with a focus on moving towards a circular economy.
What is a linear economy?
A linear economy has a beginning and an end. It continually depends on pulling out new resources to create new products that eventually become waste.
What is a circular economy?
A circular economy is a closed loop system. It is a system that finds ways to reuse the resources within it to minimize waste.
A circular economy is essential for our planet’s survival as a way to minimize resource extraction and minimize waste.
Take action and learn more about the circular economy by checking out these links:
- Watch this 2 minute video: What is a circular economy and how does it benefit you and our planet?
- And this 2 minute video: How the Circular Economy Tackles Climate Change
- Check out this infographic from Recycling Council of British Columbia: Switching to a circular economy
- Learn about and support businesses working towards a circular economy, such as fairechild. Read about this children’s clothing brand and our interview with them: Sustainable Children’s Wear: fairdchild
We talk about fashion and textiles quite a bit on our blog. The reason is that fashion is a HUGE contributor to climate change.
Want to know the nitty gritty of your closet? Calculate your fashion footprint here: ThredUp Fashion Footprint Calculator
Read more about fashion, waste, and what you can do about it:
- Learn about fast fashion and some sustainable clothing brands: Sustainable fashion series
- Take action: How your clothing helps the planet
- Do something positive: How to upcycle your old t-shirts
Electronic waste (e-waste) is everything from your cell phone to the battery powering your remote control to lightbulbs and cords. Every room of our homes has some electronics in it, which makes it a big area to focus on.
One big problem with e-waste is the risk to the environment when disposing:
“Toxic and hazardous substances such as mercury, brominated flame-retardants (BFR) or chloroflurocarbons (CFCs) are found in many types of electronic equipment and pose severe risk to human health and the environment if not handled in an environmentally sound manner.” – Global E-Waste Monitor
Learn more and take action with these ideas:
- Use your electronics (and all of your things) longer. This is a guaranteed way to reduce your impact on the planet.
- Purchase from a certified re-seller of second hand electronics/phones.
- Donate your old electronics to charities that will use them.
- Properly dispose of your electronics: 10 Unique Recycling Programs
- Read more about how using electronics impacts our planet: How your internet use choices help the planet
- Make your choices matter: Use an eco-friendly hosting provider, such as Green Geeks
Oh plastic. Our never-ending problem. Our eyes were opened even wider the first year we participated in Plastic Free July. Plastic essentially doesn’t go anywhere once it’s created and so much of our plastic is single use. That means we use it once and then it sits in the landfill for hundreds and hundreds of years.
Consider your plastic use and start taking action with these ideas:
- Watch 4- minute animated The Story of Plastic to learn more about the problem: The Story of Plastic
- Do a waste audit to identify where plastic sneaks into your household: How to do a waste audit.
- Choose one area of your household to focus on and reduce the plastic in this area.
- Learn about where oil and gas companies are causing damage in your communities and take action, like with what is happening in the Wet’suwet’en Nation: Yintah Access History and Timeline
Friday: Food Waste
It’s a staggering fact that Canada wastes half of the food in it. 50% of food goes to waste. With the amount of food insecurity that exists in our country, that is information I have trouble wrapping my brain around.
Food waste is also a huge contributor to climate change.
“When organic material is sent to landfill to decompose it releases methane into the atmosphere, which is a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and is the single largest waste stream found in landfills.” – Waste Reduction Week
Tackle your food waste with these ideas:
- Meal plan, shop your fridge and your cupboard before the store, and eat your left-overs.
- If you have food you won’t be consuming, try finding someone who will. Give it away to your friends/family/neighbours, to a food rescue organization, to someone in your Buy Nothing Group, or a homeless shelter.
- Learn the difference between Best Before Dates and Sell By Dates and what these actually mean for your food: Date labelling on pre-packaged foods
- Preserve food that is at risk of going to waste. Freezing items is an easy way to keep food from going to waste: 20 unexpected foods you can freeze
- Read about 3 simple changes you can make with your food choices: How your food choices help the planet
Saturday: Sharing Economy
Reducing the amount of things that we buy is a simple way to reduce our waste. Sharing and borrowing items is a perfect way to refrain from buying something. If you watched The Story of Stuff above, you have an even better idea of why reducing our consumption benefits us and the planet.
Start building your sharing community:
- Look up your local Buy Nothing Group.
- Talk with your friends and family and normalize borrowing from each other.
- Be okay with not owning things that you can easily borrow. You are not missing out, nor are you worth any less, if you share belongings instead of owning them.
Sunday: Swap and Repair
One of the best things you can do with “stuff” is keep it functioning longer. It’s one of the reasons why a sharing economy and shopping second hand are vital for our environment. The linear economy model, which promotes planned obsolescence and a continued need to buy things, is creating devastation for our planet.
Try out swapping and repairing for yourself:
- Look up your local Repair Cafe, a free space to help facilitate repairs.
- Make a difference together with friends: How to host a clothing swap
- Learn a new skill, such as visible mending.
- Search out how-to videos on You Tube.
Reducing our Environmental Impact
If we even begin to implement a portion of these actions and address a few of these topics, we can take huge steps to reducing our impact on the planet.
What topic from Waste Reduction Week are you most passionate about?
Which topic do you find most challenging?