Keep it clean and green

My attempts at trying to live a cleaner life.

On one of my most recent trips, I was surprised at how passive people appeared to be about generating waste. In the city we were in, there was garbage everywhere; I even saw one guy just toss a fast food drink cup onto the street, not far from where a trash receptacle was.

While I’ve tried my hardest to be as “green” as I can, I admit it can be tough. This year, though, I’ve turned it into a bit of a game: how many things can I do to create less waste throughout the day?

Glass is the brass

I’ve been trying to carry around a glass water bottle when I can. I have a little 300 ml one that fits snugly in my backpack and only cost me about $3! There really is no reason to be buying bottled water anymore, and it’s a good idea to try and avoid plastic water bottles if possible. At home, we like to use water filters through our faucet, and at work I have non-stop access to the water cooler, so there are really no excuses if you like to stay hydrated — but find yourself stopping at the corner store for bottled water. On days where I forget my water bottle (or I have no room to bring it, which happens when I have to transport camera gear) I’ve got my own mug at work that I use. Plus, having a smaller mug or glass bottle forces you to get up from your desk more, and stretch your legs when you walk over to the cooler for a refill.

At home, I prefer to use a mason jar. I’m still struggling with my water intake, so I tend to flavour my water to help with that. Eventually, I’d like to be off the flavouring, but for now, my mason jars are a great way to make sure I’m getting my recommended eight glasses of water per day.

Unplugging power cords

I first saw the term “vampire energy” a few years ago, and in my head, it paints quite the picture. Vampire energy refers to the standby power that’s consumed — even when your product is turned off — when your device is still plugged in to an outlet. This doesn’t just apply to game consoles and cable boxes, it can also apply to those ubiquitous phone chargers. It doesn’t hurt to make it a point of trying to remember to disconnect those products when you don’t need them.

Reusable (and fun!) cozies

One of the reasons I love buying things locally is because relative to some of the mainstream stuff for sale, there isn’t as much packaging involved. What’s more, if I’m at a craft fair, I can ask the seller/maker about the product.

When I saw these cozies at a New Westminster craft fair earlier this month, the light bulb in my head went off. Sure, I’ll usually recycle my cup sleeves when I get one, but did I really need a cup sleeve from my local Blenz or Starbucks all the time? Could I do better? Absolutely — and a couple of these cozies were going to help me do my part.

The cool thing about cozies is that you can use them for just about whatever cup you want. I typically like to use them for warm drinks, but it’s not uncommon for people to put them around mason jars for cold drinks.

Just make sure you don’t forget to remove them before you get rid of, or wash your cup!

Upcycling and thrifting

These days there is no shortage of places to go if you’re looking to find clothes and other goods that can be upcycled. I have a great pair of earrings made from some mystery material that are go-to everyday favourites. And they were less than $10 at a craft fair!

As for thrifting, whether you’re looking to buy, sell or donate, sometimes you can find some really neat things at your local thrift store. Near me, there are thrift stores and consignment stores along Main Street in Vancouver and along/not far from Columbia Street in New Westminster that I like to hit up! Some workplaces will host clothing swaps; these are fun activities that allow you to change up your wardrobe. (And you never know what you’ll find!)

There’s always room to be more sustainable; I believe I’m off to a good start but I have a long way to go. If you have tips — don’t be shy and drop a line in the comments section!

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