The Green Medium is an Emerald Award-winning, youth-run blog that seeks to innovate how we discuss and inform ourselves on environmental concerns.

Minimal Waste Living

Minimal Waste Living

  Image sourced from National Geographic

Image sourced from National Geographic

A significant step towards environmental consciousness is reducing the amount of waste produced by the individual. Canada is among the most resource-dependent countries in the world, producing nearly 800 kilograms of waste per person annually and ranking 15th out 17 developed nations studied by the Conference Board of Canada (cbc.ca). Lessening the environmental impact of this waste begins with the efforts of individuals to reduce their own waste production.

Limit the use of plastic products

Excess plastic packaging is common for mass-market products, and creates millions of tonnes of waste each year. As a result of chemical additives in its production, plastic can cause disruption to biological functions in humans and animals, particularly marine mammals. These and other effects could be eliminated over time if plastic production and consumption levels were reduced. This is achievable by turning to plastic alternatives like reusable water bottles, shopping bags, and food containers, and by buying food and household products in bulk. Replacing plastic-packaged toiletries with alternatives like bar soaps and wooden toothbrushes (to name a few) can also decrease production of plastic packaging waste. While legislation has been adopted in Canada to promote reduction efforts, simply limiting the purchase of plastic products and their use in the home can have a great impact.

Go digital

The rise of technology has led to changes in approach to paper use, like the digitization of information in offices and schools. Businesses have begun digitizing operations to increase productivity and accessibility - for example, online banking has become a popular means of accessing financial information, and paper consumption is reduced through digital bank statements. Schools have also experienced a digital transformation, with online resources and the availability of technology to students. Students can access textbooks online through websites like OpenStax, which lowers financial costs for students and decreases paper waste and pollution. In addition, through applications like Google Classroom, students can receive and submit homework assignments digitally. Taking after businesses and schools by “going digital” can greatly decrease paper waste production and its overall impact.

Buy secondhand or shop sustainable brands

Trends in fashion constantly fluctuate, and many corporations produce clothing cheaply and at rapid rates in order to keep up. These “fast fashion” brands allow “trends to be designed and manufactured quickly and inexpensively to [offer] current clothing styles at a lower price” (Wikipedia). Fast fashion is not only unethical, but also “the second largest polluter in the world”. Water use, toxic chemicals in dyes, and carbon dioxide emissions from shipment are just a few dangers clothing production poses to the environment. To counteract this, shopping secondhand reduces harmful manufacturing demands and keeps clothing out of landfills. In addition, buying from transparent brands like Reformation and Everlane, who are honest about the ethical and environmental costs of producing their products, allows the buyer to make an informed decision about the impact of their clothing purchases. These brands “think about all the costs in creating fashion—not just the price tag” , and are excellent names to support in an effort towards sustainability.

If you live in Edmonton, donating to the Reuse Centre is another great way to minimize waste disposal and give things you don't use anymore a new life. 

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