Fish in the Sea

Something that I have never understood, is why so many people fail to consider fish, as meat. Perhaps it’s a religious thing. I hear Christians eat fish on Fridays or something. Or maybe people just don’t care much about fish. They aren’t cute furry animals that we have close bonds with and the fishing industry is so out of sight.

There are many vegetarians (actually pescatarian) who still eat fish despite giving up all other types of meat. So what’s the deal with fish?

  • Omega 3 – Fish is an excellent source of Omega 3 Fatty acids which are essential to human health and functioning
  • Protein – like other meats, fish is high in protein. However, it is considered to be healthier and it is recommended to eat fish at least one or two times a week. In particular, salmon is packed with vitamins and protein

Omega 3s, protein and vitamins – what more could you want in a meal? Yes, fish tend to be high in these things, but there’s a catch. . .

  • Mercury – most sites that address mercury levels in fish will tell you that it’s nothing to worry about. But then they continue to warn you not to eat too much and that pregnant women should avoid it (bad for fetal development) . . . but I thought it was nothing to worry about? Their main point is that fish amass higher levels of mercury over time, so larger fish (such as tuna, shark, etc.) will have higher levels than smaller fish such as salmon. Stick to small portions and small fish
  • Plenty of Fish in the sea – In 2012, a professor from the University of Toronto estimated that if we continue to fish at our current rate, we will run out by 2050. So Perhaps you think the answer is farmed fish
  • Farmed Fish – not all fish are equal. Farmed fish tend to have lower levels of Omega 3s because they are fed fishmeal
  • Plastic – human beings are not the cleanest species. We produce a lot of trash and a lot of it ends up polluting waterways and oceans. Plastic makes up a large portion of this debris. Aside from eating it, microscopic plastic can also enter a fish through its gills. It can take up to 6 times longer for this to exist its system than if it was ingested orally. With the amount of plastic floating around out there, I wouldn’t be surprise if you were eating a bit every time you take a bite
    • In addition to this, millions of sea turtles, seals, birds and other marine life die every year because they get tangled in plastic debris, or mistake it for food. To help stop this, reduce the amount of plastic you use and remember to recycle. 4Ocean has a great campaign that works on cleaning up the ocean that I would totally recommend checking out – https://4ocean.com/
  • Bycatch – bycatch is when fish or other marine life are caught unintentionally while catching a target species. Bycatch can include the wrong species (even turtles and dolphins), sex, or undersized fish of the target species. Some of the bycatch species are endangered and this is a serious threat to their population
  • Carbon Footprint – fishing uses up a lot of fuel. The fish that require the most fuel to catch are: Shrimp, lobster, salmon, scallops, tuna and sardines. Due to the depletion of wild fish, boats have to go out further to find them. After meat and dairy products produced on land, fish has the highest carbon emission, with that of tuna being equal to chicken
  • Contaminants – factories, farms and storm runoff all contribute to the growing contamination of water. It’s bad for the fish, kills aquatic plants and can be a harm to you as well
  • All the other stuff – Don’t forget about all the other reasons why you should not eat meat: The Meat Myth

Okay . . . so maybe there are a few downsides to eating fish (2 pros – 7+cons), what should you do? For one, you can cut down on the amount of fish you’re eating, or cut it out altogether.

  • Be Aware – it’s important to be aware of all your choices and the consequences they have, both for your health, and the world you live in. When you buy fish, find out where it came from, how it was caught or farmed. Was there bycatch or habitat destruction as a result?
  • Support local & sustainable business – a lot of fish in North America is imported, which mean it has a higher carbon footprint. Do a little research and find out where you can buy fish caught locally and sustainably in your area
  • Get your nutrients from other sources – you don’t have to eat fish to get omega 3s. Leafy greens, flax, walnuts and soybeans are all plant based sources

References

https://www.thestar.com/life/food_wine/2012/11/09/is_fish_good_for_you_here_are_the_pros_and_cons.html

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2003/sep/16/food.lifeandhealth

http://marinesciencetoday.com/2014/08/29/the-pros-cons-and-ethics-of-eating-fish/

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/marine-animals-are-dying-because-of-our-plastic-trash/

https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/bycatch

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Meatless Monday

Two years ago today, I emptied my freezer and gave whatever frozen/canned meat products I had to my house mates. And that was that – I stopped eating meat. It was such an easy thing to do once I made the decision. Making the decision and carrying it out was the hard part. Sure, it sounds easy, but forming habits is hard. Anyone who has made a “commitment” to change their diet or start working out knows the struggle.

The summer after second year, I was taking a philosophy class with one of my favourite professors, Dr. Matthew Grellette. The class was about Ethics, and at one point we were discussing animal rights. I remember him saying that the only reason he still ate meat was that he was too lazy to change his diet. All the evidence pointed toward a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle being superior. But people (like my professor) don’t adopt this lifestyle because it means putting in some effort to make a change.

It was shortly after that class that I decided I wasn’t going to be that lazy person. I was going to make a growth choice, one that would benefit my health and the environment. At the end of the summer, I told myself I had until New Years to make it happen. That would give me time to figure out how I was going to feed myself. Less than a month later, I was ready and I didn’t want to wait any longer.

Obviously ‘not being lazy’ isn’t a good reason to commit to something, so here are the reasons I have stuck to my vegetarian diet and continue to cut down on dairy products:

  • Fish are Friends, not Food – humans are not better than any other species, we have no right to dictate when they die. You can’t love animals and eat them too
  • Global Warming – the production of animal products is a leading cause of climate change
  • The Meat Myth – humans don’t need meat to survive. We are better off without it in our diets
  • Got Milk? – Cows milk is for baby cows, not humans
  • Carnism – we have been socialized to think eating meat is normal

Over the past two years, I have would have eaten over 400 animals, and almost 400 pounds of meat. By choosing not to do this, I have saved 3220 pounds of CO2 from entering the environment. If I was vegan, these numbers would be even higher. In addition, I have saved other resources, such as water, forests and grain. To see what impact you have, check out the thevegancalculator.com or thevegetariancalculator.com

 

Blood Suckers

Having a period sucks. I think that’s something pretty much everyone can agree on. The only reason we like it, is because it means we aren’t pregnant. Everything to do with it sucks. Cramps, blood, mood swings. To be honest, mine is pretty mild and it still sucks, so I can only imagine what some of you have to go through.

Even though I’ve been getting my period for almost ten years, I still feel like I’m never prepared for it. Perhaps that’s due to a lack of education or the fact that everything to do with the female body is taboo. I still feel like a preteen when I’m trying to figure out what tampons to buy, or googling how to get out blood stains.

But yea know, I wrote a 20 page paper on The Female Orgasm a couple months back so I figure I am brave enough to tackle periods. Also I need to educate myself and stop being so clueless.

One of the reasons I am doing this is because I keep hearing about how feminine hygiene products are bad for your body, and more obviously, the environment. It’s estimated that women use about 20 feminine hygiene products per period. If every women in the world is using 20 products every three weeks . . . that’s a lot of waste created and a lot of money spent that you’re literally throwing away.

In addition to this stuff filling up landfills, it’s filling our bodies with chemicals. Tampons are made using cotton and/or poly fibers that are usually farmed using harsh pesticides. The cotton is then bleached using chlorine. Then you stick these things into an incredibly absorbent part of the body, which soaks up all the chemicals. So now you have all these chemicals entering your body (some of them unknown because tampons are virtually unregulated, and do not have to disclose the ingredients used to make them) and we don’t even know what the effects of these chemicals will be. One can avoid most of these chemicals by using organic tampons, but they still create a lot of waste.

Something that is a totally new idea to me, is that the average pad contains the same amount of plastic as four plastic bags. Obviously this is creating a ton of waste, but it’s also exposing a rather sensitive part of your body to a ton of plastic and the chemicals in it. This can lead to yeast and bacteria growth or even organ damage.

The solution to all of these problems is the menstrual cup. There are a ton of different brands available, most notable is the Diva Cup. Menstrual cups are little cups inserted into the cervix that catch all the stuff flowing out. The cups are safe for your body and are reusable (they recommend to replace them about once a year), saving you cash and preventing a lot of waste from ending up in landfills.

I found the Diva Cup website (http://divacup.com/) to be super helpful because, like I said, I know nothing. However I didn’t choose to buy a Diva Cup. I looked at several reviews that basically all said that every brand is good. So I ordered a Blossom Cup off of Amazon, mostly because it was only $20 and I get free shipping.

I think I’ll feel pretty good about this thing once I figure it out. It will mean I’m saving money, putting less chemicals into my body and producing less garbage. Apparently it is also supposed to prevent any smell and leaks, so that’s a bonus.

There’s one more reason I think menstrual cups are so great. Millions of women around the world cannot afford feminine hygiene products. I think in some places, the government might cover the costs, but it’s a rarity. In many places when girls get their period, they are prevented from leaving their homes because they do not have these products. The menstrual cup is the perfect solution and would be a great item to donate to families in need. If you are interested, you can donate here: https://www.femmeinternational.org/donate/

http://divacup.com/sustainability/

For the Love of Animals

I’ve been visiting zoos ever since I can remember. The Bowmanville Zoo has always been a ten minute drive from where I grew up and there were many years where we would take school trips to the Toronto Zoo.

It seems so normalized – a great way to spend the day with your kids, teaching them about the animals that bring a smile to their faces. But is this how we should be teaching our kids about animals? That animals should be locked up and under our control? That because we have the intelligence, we should dictate the fate of every living thing?

They probably get enough of this at home, seeing you boss around the family dog, set traps for mice, buy special garbage cans to keep away racoons. All along you’re sending the message that humans are in control, making the decisions. And we are. But if we continue to run the world the way we do, there won’t be many animals left to teach your kids about.

My main reason for writing this, is that I haven’t been able to understand how I feel about zoos. On one hand, I love animals, just seeing them brings me so much joy. However, I also find visiting zoos to be very painful – so many animals display obvious signs of stress and it makes me sad to see wild/exotic animals in a cage, far from home, being gawked at. My goal is to explore the pros and cons of zoos in order to educate myself and hopefully raise awareness of this issue.

For the Love of Learning

Might as well start out on the positive side since I have a feeling this will be the losing end. I think it is important to keep in mind that when considering the positive aspects of zoos, that it is an ideal and not always a reality. The arguments for zoos describe what they are potentially capable of, but is usually not representative. I would also note that although most of these points seem positive, there is another point that counteracts it.

So far the only argument I found that seems of any worth is “Some zoos help rehabilitate wildlife and take in exotic pets that people no longer want or are no longer able to care for.” Every other point fails to stand up to scrutiny or ignores the whole point – the animals. I’m actually disgusted that someone thought these were arguments for why we should have zoos:

  • Zoos are a tradition, and a visit to a zoo is a wholesome, family activity.
  • Seeing an animal in person is a much more personal and more memorable experience than seeing that animal in a nature documentary.

These arguments seek to draw away from the fact that zoos imprison animals and often fail to take proper care of them. Human experience is more important than the lives of millions of animals. Who cares if the animal has a miserable life as long as you get a fun day out with the family.

I’m not even going to bother to list the rest of the points, but you can read them here https://www.thoughtco.com/arguments-for-and-against-zoos-127639 . Every argument on the list is later canceled out by the list of arguments against zoos.

Caged and Controlled 

Not all zoos are the same but after recently visiting Clarington Family Outdoor Adventure Park (formerly the Bowmanville Zoo), I was pretty disgusted. The highlight of the trip was feeding and petting the pygmy goats that hang around and seeing the animals is always cool. But that’s about where it ends. goat.jpg

Two fully grown lions lay on cement slabs in a cage about the size of a suburban backyard. A group of Baboons share a cage even smaller, staring out at us, sometimes grooming each other, but obviously bored. A Serval paces and rocks in a similar cage, clearly in distress. A giraffe stands in a slightly large pen, which is barren except for a camel. It attempts to stretch its neck enough to reach the trees outside its fence but fails. Nearby a lion cub is passed around a group of people who paid a fortune for a chance to hold the wild animal.

I’m guilty of this myself. Last year, a group of friends planned a similar trip and I paid my share for this opportunity. We spent half an hour in a small pen with the cub and a handler. Although it was an incredible experience, it was very painful for me, watching the cub pace along the perimeter, calling to its sibling who was in a similar situation, several feet away. The handler repeatedly pushing it away, attempting to stop the cub from pacing and pawing at the wall. It had no interest in the people standing around, enthralled by it, attempting to play with, or pet it. I did get some beautiful photos, because of course it’s a beautiful creature – but I can’t help feeling guilty. Guilty about giving my money to people who force a helpless baby animal into this situation, day after day. And for this reason, I’ll never do it again.

cub

This is one of the main criticisms of zoos – it’s a money grab. They charge a lot of money to visit for the day, and even more for any extra activities (encounters, feedings, rides, etc.). Babies are regularly the victims of these moneys grabs. Cause duh, they are cute AF – people will pay a lot of money to see them. Hell, I’m a prime example of this – cute animals are my weakness, I’d probably pay to play with a puppy. However, this means that young animals are taken away from their mothers for extended periods of time and are put on display, expected to put on a show. Can you imagine someone doing this to your child? For it to be treated as an object, something to buy and sell, for the entertainment of others?

This also means that some species are more desirable. Primates and big cats are favourites but this means they are also targets. They are imported from the wild and bought from other zoos because they are a big attraction.

Many claim that this is to help protect endangered species, but it does nothing to protect the animals in the wild or their habitats. They also tend to ignore animals that could benefit from this protection but don’t have the same type of public appeal. Keeping endangered species captive is also rather controversial. Animals bred in captivity cannot survive in the wild. Even if the species survives, it will only be in captivity. The money that the zoos allot to endangered species usually ends up being spent at the zoo, not on protecting the animals natural habitat.

In addition to zoos, there are other facilities that hold animals captive that are even more controversial such as Sea World and Marine Land. These facilities are known to house Orcas, dolphins and other marine life in tanks that are grossly undersized. In the wild, these animals would spend their days covering vast distances, not being forced to perform. After incidents and the deaths of orcas being largely publicized, these institutions seem to be feeling the heat. But for some reason, the general distaste towards these places has not entirely transferred to zoos.

Many animals in captivity show signs of stress and depression. This is evident when animals (often big cats) pace or rock. Similarly with marine life, we see their fins drooping. Animals can also be bullied by their cage mates. Many animals in captivity are trained and forced to perform. Starvation and punishment are common tools used when training animals. They may also be forced to give rides or be the subjects of research.

Conclusion

The sad part is, it can get even worse. Normally, when I think of zoos, The Toronto Zoo comes to mind. A huge place that has large habitats and lots of opportunities to learn about animals. In my mind, they seek to educate and genuinely care about their animals. But this is not the reality everywhere.

The Bowmanville Zoo is probably somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. In the past, they had shows, where big cats were trained to jump on boxes for a chunk of meat. The previous owner was accused of animal abuse and forced to close his business. I suppose it is a type of roadside zoo, but there are definitely much worse. The Dodo reports on zoos across the world where animals starve to death and ‘zoo keepers’ are more likely to torture animals than care for them.

It strikes me that maybe some people open zoos or work in them because they genuinely love animals and want to care for them. But this is not the way. Sanctuaries are great alternatives to zoos and aquariums. Sanctuaries are places where animals are protected and able to live out their natural lives. Different types exist around the world. For example, here http://veg.ca/animal-issues/animal-sanctuaries/ are all the farm sanctuaries in Ontario. In other parts of the world, there exist sanctuaries for giraffes, elephants, etc. where they protect animals from hunters/poachers. They take in animals that may have been part of the tourist industry, such as elephants who are forced to give rides. Visiting a sanctuary would be a much more positive experience. It fosters an environment of compassion rather than one of dominance.

Although it makes me sad to think I’ll never visit a zoo again, I’m not sure I want to continue support this industry. But it’s a choice, one that I will make, because the animals cannot.

 

Materialism vs. Minimalism

In regards to the interconnectedness of one’s lifestyle, I think materialism (or rather, minimalism) also comes into play, especially in regards to living zero waste.

“Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.” – http://www.theminimalists.com/minimalism/

How could you live waste free and not be edging towards minimalism? It becomes very difficult to fill your house up with stuff without creating any waste. Furniture, appliances, clothes, shampoo, picture frames, etc. – it all comes in packages. And if any of it ends up breaking, you usually end up throwing it out and getting a new one, thereby creating even more waste.

I’ve spent the last four years studying social psychology, and in that process I took a class on positive psychology. It was probably one of my favourite classes, because Dr. Day was teaching it, and because it literally taught you everything you need to know about how to live a healthy, happy, satisfying life. A large part of that, is living in the moment and making the most of your experiences. It isn’t about money or the stuff you have (after you have the necessities of life). Buying things usually provides some type of instant gratification, which usually doesn’t last very long. It’s experiences that add to our lives and contribute to our well-being.

This blog (https://nosidebar.com/benefits-of-minimalism/) describes ten benefits of minimalism which have me pretty convinced that I have too much stuff. Maybe this will become another goal – not only to avoid buying things I don’t need, but also to declutter my life. I like to keep my place clean and clutter free, but I do still have a lot of stuff. Perhaps it is time some of it goes…

I think this will definitely come into play during the coming season. My birthday is in November and Christmas is just over a month after that. I am extremely grateful for the gifts I receive from my family and friends, but I usually end up with a couple things that I never end up using. I think it would be an interesting experience to ask those around me to practice minimalism this season. Give gifts that can be used, and give them in reusable bags rather than wrapping paper. I will make these goal for myself as well. I have already begun to plan gifts for upcoming birthdays and Christmas – gifts that will be useful and create minimal waste. I hope that this inspires others to do the same.

I think having these goals that are all interacting with each other, is making it easier to achieve them. Rather than just working towards one of them (e.g. a healthier diet), I’m working towards a healthier lifestyle and simultaneously achieving all of them together. Eating healthier means eating less fast food/processed food which means creating less waste and eating vegan more often. It means I’m being more mindful. Attempting to produce less garbage has also lead me to buy less stuff – stuff that I don’t really need and that isn’t going to make me happy. It’s teaching me to be happy with the things that I have and it helps me to save money.

Summer Protection

Perhaps you spent your summer at the beach and having campfires. I bet you didn’t escape without a sun burn or bug bite. But luckily for us, sunscreen and bug-spray exist. However, like the majority of our manufactured products, most brands are full of chemicals that are dangerous to our bodies and the environment.

Sunscreen is one of those things that you grow up with. You get to the beach and before you can run off to play in the sand, your mom grabs you and smears sunscreen all over you. You knew it was going to happen but you hate it anyway and run away before she can get you completely covered and you end up with a little burnt patch of skin. After that, you (mostly) learn your lesson and wear sunscreen. You never really think about it, you just know that if you don’t want to get burned, you put it on.

But what we don’t grow up knowing, is that this shit is full of chemicals that are potentially harmful. In contrast, we are led to believe that sunscreen helps to prevent ones’ risk of skin cancer. There is however, no proof of this. In addition, it can actually increase the risk of skin cancer in some cases. Most sunscreens are chemical based and do not last as long or protect as good as mineral based products (http://www.care2.com/greenliving/the-dangers-of-sunscreen-new-report.html). Additionally, all these chemicals seep into our skin and linger in our bodies. When we enter bodies of water, these chemicals wash off of our skin and pollute the environment, and harm aquatic life.

Thank-goodness for all natural products! They are safe for our bodies and the environment. A prime example is Mexitan (https://mexitan.com/). Their sunscreen is natural and biodegradable which makes it safe for the environment. They also believe in the importance of maintaining the quality of their products. And of course they have many other products, including aftercare and bug repellent.

Bug spray is another product that we let sink into our skin that’s full of chemicals. For example, DEET is a bug repellent that is actually intended to kill insects and is harmful to rodents as well. DEET can be found in a variety of bug sprays. I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to spray a chemical on my skin that is capable of melting a fishing net, which is why I have decided to switch to natural bug repellent. Mexitan has multiple forms of bug repellent available in the form of spray and wipes available. Although I haven’t tried it, mixing certain essential oils is supposed to make a worthy bug repellent (https://wellnessmama.com/2565/homemade-bug-spray/). This will leave you smelling fresh, feeling good and not feeling the urge to wash all those chemicals off your skin. You don’t have to worry about putting it on your children, or accidentally getting it in your mouth.

Keep the chemicals out of your body and keep our planet clean!

Carnism

Carnism is a term that was coined by Dr. Melanie Joy in 2001. It is a belief system that conditions humans to eat meat. Like other ideologies, it is manmade. We learn it. We receive positive and negative feedback about our behaviour, and it conditions us to behave in a way that we receive optimal positive feedback and minimal negative feedback. Essentially – we learn to follow the rules (basic sociological theory).

The Secret Reason We Eat Meat – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao2GL3NAWQU (Below is essentially a summary of this video).

People often think that that vegans and vegetarians are the ones who have strong beliefs about eating habits, but that isn’t true. Eating meat is not a necessity (see the meat myth – https://livefree0seizetheday.wordpress.com/2017/02/13/the-meat-myth/) and it is therefore a choice, and choices stem from beliefs. This belief system dictates what animals we eat, and when we eat them (usually subject to geographic location and religion). This is carnism.

Carnism continues to exist by defending itself. The first mechanism of defense, is denial. It denies the truth by making it invisible. It’s the norm, people don’t question it, or really even notice it. It also keeps its victims (animals) invisible, by hiding them away in factory farms and disguising the finished product.  The meat you buy at the grocery store, or are presented at a restaurant, in no way resemble the animal itself and is even given a different name (steak, ribs, pork, etc.). Humans are likewise the invisible victims of this system – in our ignorance, we continue to fuel out bodies with foods that cause us to gain weight and develop health problems.

Justification is the second defence mechanism. We are taught to believe that eating animals is normal, natural and necessary – that these myths, are actually facts. These beliefs are institutionalized and imbedded in society, and like other societal norms, we learn them from our families and schools and are expected to conform. We internalize these beliefs and it distorts our perception of the system. Distortion is the third defence mechanism that prevents us from seeing what is really there. Cows become synonymous with streak. We no longer see the individual animal, but a hunk of meat.

In opposition to justification, denial and cognitive distortion, we have justice, truth and compassion, which ultimately leads to awareness. Awareness threatens carnism because it helps us to understand this system and gives us the freedom to make choices. Awareness has been an aspect of all social movements and has been significantly heightened surrounding this issue.

I’m really happy I stumbled across this video. I had never heard of carnism before, but it makes perfect sense to me and reaffirmed all my beliefs about consuming animal products. I feel especially attracted to this theory because I have spent four years studying social psychology and this is a psychological theory. There are theories and perspectives that help to explain and predict all types of human behaviour, but I never thought to look for one to explain our meat eating habits.

https://www.carnism.org/carnism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnism

Zero Waste Continued: Sustainability

Recently, it has occurred to me how interconnected our lifestyle choices are. I think this has slowly been dawning on me over time, but yesterday (when I attempted zero waste shopping) it really hit me. This was largely influenced by the ever inspiring Melody Grace Alayon (https://www.instagram.com/babestagrams/?hl=en) and my own research and mindfulness.

Let me explain. Living a zero waste life style is difficult at the best of times, but becomes nearly impossible if your diet consist of fast food, meat or almost any processed food. All of these things come with some type of packaging. To give up these things, you would be living a much more sustainable lifestyle, both for your body and for the planet. It is a lot healthier to fuel your body with natural, fresh foods; factory farms are killing the planet; wrappers & packaging end up in the ocean & landfills.

Additionally, individuals who choose to adapt this lifestyle are much more likely to be mindful and make growth choices. They have goals, they are aware of what they are putting into their body, where it is coming from, and they are choosing to take an active role in what they are consuming. Mindfulness is a large aspect of achieving positive psychological well-being.

  • On a side note, I really liked what Melody said in her recent Facebook video about guilt. Feeling guilty about your lifestyle choices and what you are eating isn’t healthy. You should remain mindful, but if you choose to eat some junk food, it’s not the end of the world. This is something I have personally struggled with, as a vegetarian (trying to eat vegan more often). I work at McDonald’s and sometimes, I just want a cheeseburger. If I have a weak moment (when I’m studying for an exam, for example), and eat a cheeseburger, I don’t think I would feel bad about it. However, I know that it is not something I want to be putting into my body on a regular basis.

I think all of these aspects work together, in a circle.  Being mindful encourages you to make growth choices, which in turn, have some added benefit to your life.

The main point of this was my realization that if I was going to shop zero waste, I wouldn’t be able to buy any processed foods. And when I realized that, the first thing I thought was – “do people who do this successfully never eat chocolate bars?”

In the long run, I am terribly unprepared for this for a couple reasons. I don’t have the supplies. Shopping zero waste means taking all of your own jars and containers to a store and filling them with whatever you are buy. I don’t have anything to do this with. I also don’t have a store designed for this type of shopping. Sure, I could get a few things at bulk barn, perhaps some at Nations. But when you live beside a grocery store and don’t have a car, it’s not very appealing to bus all over the city to multiple stores just for some groceries. I also don’t have the knowledge base for how to make this work. I don’t all the ins and outs of my city and I still want the convenience of packaged food. But I’m learning. Hopefully in the near future I can close some of these gaps – buy some containers and find somewhere to shop that will reduce my waste production.

I’m remaining mindful of my choices and my limitations, but not giving up or letting it discourage me. I am continuing to learn and to adapt my lifestyle to become more sustainable.

Zero Waste Shopping

As one of my goals for the future is to produce less waste, I wanted to start today when I went grocery shopping. And let me tell you – its fucking hard. I started by making my meal plan/grocery list, trying to avoid adding items that come prepackaged. Then I looked up some tips for shopping zero waste, which make it sound relatively easy (https://www.treehugger.com/green-home/10-steps-zero-waste-shopping-routine.html). And it probably would be, if I had a zero waste grocery store and the right supplies. But I don’t. On the plus side, zero waste shopping is supposed to be easier for vegetarians and much easier for vegans, and today my shopping list is entirely vegan.

I’m about to head to the store, with my reusable grocery bags in hand. Let’s see how this goes.

I failed. SO hard. But I don’t think it’s completely my fault. Food Basics is simply not set up to shop waste free. No matter how hard I tried, every item I purchased had some form of packaging. Fruit has plastic stickers, bread comes in a plastic bag, milk comes in a carton or bag, etc.

groceries.jpg

However, in light of my failure, I had some small successes. I bought my pasta in a box rather than in a plastic package. The box is much easier to reuse and recycle – the plastic would have been useless once opened. I also took my own grocery bags so I didn’t have to buy plastic ones from the store. In addition, seeing other people shopping, using plastic grocery bags and clearly not giving a flying fuck, did make me feel a little bit better about my progress. I also achieved my goal of only buying vegan products.

Overall, I felt much more mindful of the choices I was making while I was at the store in several ways. I was thinking more about what I was putting into my body, where it came from and the footprint it will leave. I was also actively thinking about how I could reuse some of the packaging, in order to avoid just throwing it out (I would love to hear any tips on this issue because I’m feeling pretty lost).

I will try to maintain this mindful attitude when I go shopping. It has opened my eyes about how difficult this will be. Especially because I didn’t have any household products on my list today, such as dish soap, makeup, shampoo or toilet paper. Short of making your own, it’s difficult to buy these products without purchasing them in a package.

My goal for the future is to continue to reduce the amount of packaging I buy, perhaps starting to make some of my own products. I will also look into finding a zero waste grocery store. I think Nations (in Jackson Square) might be better equipped for this. In addition, I will do my best to recycle all of my packaging and hopefully will find some creative ways to reuse it as well.

Summer Photo Update 

For more photos check out my Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/natalie.craig.568) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/natalieecraig/?hl=en)