Shifting to a Zero Waste Lifestyle: What We’ve Learned

A guest post The Apothecary in Inglewood

Making huge changes to your lifestyle (or adopting a new one altogether) isn’t something you can reasonably expect to achieve overnight. Or even over the course of one month of Plastic-Free July, for that matter! 

If you have a goal of going zero waste, you might be wondering where to begin. The Apothecary in Inglewood team is here to tell you: take it one step at a time! Definitely do not get caught up trying to do everything at once. 

Step one: choose one thing and start there.

This was the inspiration and motivation that led us to open Calgary’s first refillery in 2017, adding it to our existing wellness shoppe in Inglewood.

Very soon after adding our refillery, we noticed the practice of reducing and reusing rippling out into all areas of our lives. Although all of us here at The Apothecary were already operating in a sustainability mindset, the move toward zero waste pushed us further in that direction. A simple habit like remembering to bring cloth bags when we take our dogs for a walk, because we know we’ll be passing the grocery store, means less waste in our home and quickly becomes second nature.

Making the Shift

Making the switch to buying bulk, refillable products — whether that’s dish soap, body lotion and toothpaste or popcorn and loose leaf tea — requires a core shift in how you shop and how you move through the world. 

Here are five simple changes you could make today, to shift your thinking and actions toward a lower impact. Start with one!

1) Try DIY

Can you make it yourself? Or fix it yourself? Then do it! It’s fun and fulfilling to make your own personal care products, and even better, you have complete control over the ingredients. In the kitchen, you can save money and reduce waste by making things from scratch. And if you can repair an item you already own, you keep that item out of the landfill (saving money while you’re at it)!

2) Shop Local!

It’s more important now than ever to support your local retailers, and we sure do appreciate your support! Getting to know your local business owners helps to build community, and keeps your money in the local economy.

As a bonus, you can often walk or ride your bike on these local trips. If that’s not possible and you have to drive, combine errands to reduce your mileage.

3) Reuse and Repurpose

If you have the option to reuse an item before you recycle it, you should always do so. As we’ve learned over the past few years, recycling isn’t the saviour we had maybe thought it was, and because of this we know that it’s always best to get as much life as possible out of absolutely everything. Of course, always start with reducing your consumption (not buying something in the first place) — and then reuse or repurpose next.

4) Bring Your Own Container

Headed to a restaurant or your local refillery? Bring along a container for bulk goods or leftovers! If you’re unsure of current Covid regulations, call ahead. But it never hurts to bring that container just in case! Just make sure it’s super clean and dry.

5) Refuse the Bag

You’ve made your purchase… do you really need a bag? Even with some stores not currently accepting reusable bags, you still might not need to take a plastic bag. Often stores give you a bag as the default, when in fact, you could really just carry the items in your hands. 

Above all, don’t beat yourself up for anything you’re not currently doing. Instead, have faith that you’ll get there in time. In the meantime, do what you’re able to, and share your process with others — especially your successes! Sometimes we don’t even realize a change is possible until someone we know relates their own efforts. So tell your loved ones what you’re up to and how it’s working!

About the blog

This post was supplied by the team at The Apothecary in Inglewood. The Apothecary in Inglewood is our presenting sponsor at our 2nd annual, Zero Waste Festival, this year online!