Zero-Waste Grocery Store by The Green Medium

It’s common knowledge that plastic bags are bad for the environment. Everyone knows they’re a a "no-no". By trying to weed out plastic bags with reusable bags, it seems like the grocery shopping experience has become more “environmental". However, it’s easy to overlook what is actually going into the reusable bags: lots and lots of packaging. Packaging plays a big role in keeping food fresh and increasing its shelf life and it must be made out of relatively inexpensive material because its use is so fleeting. It has become a ritual experience to unwrap a product and throw away the remains without a second thought. Packaging makes up so much of our waste, and although it does prolong shelf life, preventing waste, in a lot of cases extra packaging is used for aesthetic reasons to help sell the product. A study conducted in 2012 in the United States, discovered that containers and packaging make up the biggest portion of MSW produced, over 75 million tons.  

 

Most packaging contains some sort of plastic. Yes, some plastics can be recycled and recovered, but lots can’t, especially when different types of plastic are mixed and it becomes difficult to separate them. This causes a need for sorting the different types of plastic, (increasing the cost), as well as each time its recycled, it looses its quality and is exposed to contamination of other types of plastic. It’s important to be aware of the items you buy, as well as how they are distributed. Especially since 50% of annual plastic production is attributed to disposable use, such as packaging. 

This is Valerie Leloup, she is attempting to find solutions to this issue. Packaging is such a huge topic because there are so many different types and methods to packaging, it's hard to narrow down a solution. Her solution is to create a zero waste grocery store. “NU Grocery”, is located in Ottawa and plans to open on Saturday, August 19th! The owner explains on her website, (http://nugrocery.com/our-story/), that she was shocked to hear that a study released by the World Economic Forum explained that by 2050, there would be “more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans”. She attempted to find her products in bulk rather than in single-use packaging. However, Valerie struggled to find all her products at the same store and had the idea to consolidate all zero-waste grocery needs into one place. Not only are the products sold in NU packaging-free, they are also natural and as much as possible, organic and local. All you have to do is bring in a reusable container and you have access to packaging-free produce, dairy, wheat products, cleaning products and much more. Basically anything you would need from your normal grocery store, you have access to packaging-free. They hope to expand across Canada. 

With more awareness being brought to this issue, hopefully Valerie’s idea will gain even more momentum and inspire consumers to follow her lead by working to reduce packaging waste. Make sure to check out her website! They also have an online store … 

 

 

-Allie Quigley 

 

https://www.plastics.ca/PlasticTopics/EnvironmentalSustainability/WasteManagement 

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/documents/2012_msw_fs.pdf

 http://nugrocery.com/our-story/ 

https://www.thespec.com/living-story/7089409-bring-your-own-containers-low-and-zero-waste-food-stores-try-to-go-green/ 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3791860/ 

http://www.wemma.org.uk/img/landfill.jpg 

This Term's Writer: Allie Quigley by The Green Medium

*ahem … tap. tap. tap … Hello…  is this thing on?

Hey there! My name is Allie Quigley and I’ll be your resident writer for this week! I am a recent high school graduate, (W.P Wagner) and am heading to the University of Alberta in the fall, for the Faculty of Arts. When asked to describe myself, my go to is always, I’m a Musician! Music is a huge part of my life! I recently completed my Royal Conservatory 10 Piano Exam, I like to compose and I teach private piano lessons. Although it takes up a lot of my time, I’m planning on spending the next year exploring other “loves", such as history and political issues. I discovered the Green Medium through my friend Kaelin, who was a resident writer a couple weeks ago. This platform is super awesome and reading the various perspectives from youth is really encouraging, knowing that there ARE other people who care about the environment and can voice positive perspectives, the issue often can seem hopeless. I hope you enjoy some of my thoughts. :)

 

 

Tiny Houses: A Not-So-Tiny Movement by The Green Medium

I think we can all say that there have been certain TV channels that we have been obsessed with. I know I can, but one channel in particular has always made me want to stay up until 2 AM: HGTV. Even if you are a part of a HGTV Hate Group, you can’t deny that the homes they show are beautiful. I’m here to pay attention to the tiny ones, which offer a fresh, more green way of living.

The tiny house community is growing with each passing day, with the idea of living large in a small space becoming increasingly popular. To put it simply, a tiny home is a house that is much smaller than the traditional home, but the positive impacts it has are huge. Of course, the main concern here is, “How could I ever fit all of my belongings in such a small area?”. I won’t ignore that problem, but haven’t you ever sat back and just thought, “Huh, I guess I really don’t need a lot of this stuff, like this movie ticket from 2011 or the coffee table in the basement that’s almost broken down”. Would you trade your space for a greener, more sustainable and affordable style of living, or even for a greater quality of life?

In 2017, tiny houses are here to save the day for people who can’t afford seemingly “traditional” living. These pocket-homes provide an alternative that is wallet-friendly. There is no doubt that tiny homes are way more affordable than regular house living (and even apartment costs!), but the simpleness and the positives of the small cannot be ignored. To start off, tiny houses are extremely efficient and cannot be beat.  It’s all about finding the best way to fit in all of the pieces of the home in the least amount of space as possible, so that nothing is ever wasted. Whether you have cabinets specifically for the plates you never use or cupboards under your staircase, it is a fact that the tiny home gets the job done and WILL store all of your most-prized possessions.

Getting down to the amazing implications that arise from tiny homes and why everyone should become pro-tiny-house, little residences like this are beautifully green. Since your home is considerably smaller in size, heating and cooling costs are greatly reduced. In fact, you can even have your tiny house be completely powered by solar panels at the fraction of the cost that you would normally pay to power a traditional home with solar energy. A popular feature of tiny homes are composting toilets, which help reduce water consumption and are also regenerative by turning waste into useful compost! Even if you were to hook up your little home to a city power grid and have your residence take in water and electricity like a normal house, energy and water intake is lowered significantly. In terms of electricity, heating, and cooling, tiny houses require 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year to maintain them, which wins by a landslide when we look at the incredible 28,000 pounds of carbon dioxide demanded each year by traditional homes on average. Another thing worth mentioning is that you could build a tiny home from approximately half of a logging truck of lumber, reducing the amount of materials needed and decreasing the toll on our environment.

Acknowledging the fact that 1.8% of greenhouse gases come from residential homes, it’s easy to see that we can all lessen our impact by choosing to live small. Consumption of fossil fuels has depleted our environment significantly, with the consequences of mankind’s actions too severe to fully describe in this article. Global warming, extinction of some of the world’s greatest species, depletion of the ozone layer, and levels of pollution that are constantly climbing are just a handful of the hundreds of problems that we face today. We can minimize our release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by crafting a great life in a tiny space.

It’s obvious that green and affordable go hand-in-hand for these mighty little homes, proving that the tiny-house way is one that looks out for us and our planet. I guess the question now is, does size really matter? 

Thank you,

-Valerie

Sources: 

[1]: http://www.countryliving.com/life/a6110/tiny-house-infographic/

[2]: http://greenliving.lovetoknow.com/low-impact-living/can-tiny-houses-help-environment

This Term's Writer: Valerie Willier by The Green Medium

Hey everyone! My name is Valerie, and I'll be this term's writer. I hope it was a sunny, beautiful day for you. 

I'd like to first acknowledge the fact that getting the opportunity to write on a blog like this is such an honour and a privilege. Trust me when I say that I have tried to run a blog MANY times, but consistency is such a huge problem for me, and it never worked out personally (except for the Tumblr blog I made in 2012 to show off my devotion to the Beatles - that was actually awesome). It makes me incredibly happy to see something like this take off, and for it to be carrying on steadily, happily, and healthily. 

Currently I am enjoying my summer vacation in my little town by the lake, focusing on my all-time favourite things, which include but are not limited to: music, visiting my crazy cousins as much as possible, sleeping, organizing, planning ahead, and taking care of my two dogs (who are the loves of my life) Bennie and Bo. I am tremendously proud to say that I am an Indigenous student/scholar/dreamer attending the University of Alberta, working towards a degree in Physics. Although I have to say, that math degree looks pretty tempting too! 

Thank you for reading this, and I hope to share some information that you find interesting over the next couple days. I apologize for this introductory post being so late, but it is getting to that time of year where time needs to be dedicated to lining things up smoothly for whats to come (I'm talking about you, fall semester!). Cheers to you, I'll be back soon. :) 

 

A picture I took of the lake near my home one summer evening (Slave Lake, AB). 

A picture I took of the lake near my home one summer evening (Slave Lake, AB).