Tips for Waste Reduction Week in Canada

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Waste Reduction Week in Canada. The campaign runs from October 18 to 24th, and is used to promote responsible consumption and better waste solutions. The official event only runs for one week, but Canadians are encouraged to their household waste and take sustainable action year-round!

Did you know that Canada produces more waste each year than almost any other developed country? It’s true – one person produces an average of 720 kilograms of waste. This is why initiatives like Waste Reduction Week are so important. Thankfully, adopting a zero waste lifestyle in Canada is becoming easier. We are starting to see more innovative resources like compost pick-up, refill and bulk stores, and repair cafés – all of which help businesses, communities, and individuals adopt more environmentally conscious choices.

In this article, I will be covering the seven themes of Waste Reduction Week in Canada, and how you can make simple changes to reduce waste in these areas. Remember, small changes over time can have a huge impact on the environment. Are you ready to take action? Let’s get started!


1.  Circular Economy

The first theme of Canada’s Waste Reduction Week is the circular economy – which is basically beginning with the end in mind. Products have traditionally been designed to serve their purpose, but not much more – this is what we call a linear, wasteful economy. In a circular economy, products and services are designed to last as long as possible with an aim to eliminate waste entirely.

You can contribute to a circular economy by applying

  • Buying from stores that have take-back programs for items.

  • Re-purposing commonly used items around the home. Instead of throwing out old wash cloths or t-shirts, turn them into rags for chores.

  • Before throwing something away, always try to repair it!

A great product example is Furoshiki - a Japanese fabric wrap.  We all love gift gifting – but with it comes the use of wrapping paper, tissue, and bags. Furoshiki wrapping is a fantastic alternative to conventional gift wrap. Include it as part of your gift – so that it can be used for another gift or something totally different. Nothing like a gift that keeps giving – and that’s what a circular economy is all about!

To learn more about the circular economy and why you should care about it, read my previous blog post here.


2. Textiles

Did you know that it takes 2,600 litres of water to make one new t-shirt? Or that a whopping 85% of unwanted garments end up in landfills? The growing population and rise of fast fashion are key factors in the world’s textile consumption.

Make more conscious clothing with these tips:

  • Donate clothing to shelters, consignment stores or thrift shops. This can extend the life of textiles, reduce environmental impact, and help someone in need. Sounds like a win to me!

  • Outgrown or uninterested in what’s in your closet? Try swapping clothes with friends. This is a fun way to get a new outfit for your next event!

  • See if you can re-purpose old clothes to make rags or sew them into new items.

  • When you are in need of new clothing, try to buy ethically sourced pieces from sustainable brands. Avoid big box stores and fast fashion brands that have new styles arriving daily. Check out the zero waste fashion section of my online shop here.

Fashion moves quickly – let’s slow it down by decreasing unnecessary textile waste.


3. E-Waste

Between new technology and changing desires, electronic waste is becoming one of the world’s biggest waste streams. E-waste refers to unwanted products like smartphones, computers, used batteries and burnt-out light bulbs.

Why is e-waste such a big problem? Because the disposal of electronic devices contributes heavily to Canadian landfills. Most of these products leak toxic chemicals that are harmful to the environment when they sit in the landfill.  

So before you put your old computer or TV to the curb, consider the following options:

  • Is there a recycling or drop-off program in your province? Proper disposal allows electronic resources to be re-used.

  • Donate or sell your electronic item. An old product may seem useless to you, but could potentially be very useless to someone less fortunate.

  • Organize a collection event for e-waste in your community.

  • Bring electronics in to be repaired. Sometimes we are too quick to run out and buy new at the first sign of trouble.

Ask yourself this question: is there actually a difference between this year’s and last year’s smartphone? The best way to reduce e-waste is to make sure that we get the most use out of our gadgets before replacing them with the latest model.


4. Plastics

It wouldn’t be Zero Waste Reduction Week without discussing the all too familiar plastic waste issue. This subject has gone mainstream in recent years, with documentaries like A Plastic Ocean and Plastic Wars outlining the dangerous environmental impact of plastic waste. By 2050, it’s estimated there will be more plastic in the ocean by fish.

Take action to reduce your plastic waste with these recommendations:

  • Shopping with reusable shopping bags is one of the easiest swaps to make. In fact, many grocery chains have begun to ban or charge a fee for the distribution of plastic bags. These produce bag bundles are a multipurpose, eco-friendly option.

  • Say goodbye to single-serve coffee cups and plastic water bottles! For on-the-go drinks, always bring a reusable cup or bottle. This stainless steel water bottle is double-insulated, and will keep your beverages hot or cold for up to 12 hours! 

  • Say goodbye to cling wrap – you don’t need it! This plastic can easily be replaced with some fantastic beeswax wraps. Not only does this solution preserve your food, but beeswax wraps are also 100% compostable once they are worn out.

 Going plastic-free is not only great for the environmental impact – it can also simplify your life. I highly recommend investing in some quality zero-waste products to get started.  


5. Food Waste

Canadians throw out more food than they realize – more than $10 billion of food is wasted annually. This level of food waste greatly contributes to greenhouse gas emissions once it reaches a landfill.

Here are a few practical strategies to reduce your food waste:

  • Plan meals in advance. Before you go to the grocery store, make a list of what you need and follow it. This will reduce the likelihood of overbuying food – and the chances of wasting it.

  • Compost your food. Organic food scraps can be transformed into nutrient-rich soil to grow even more food. Composting doesn’t have to be complicated! In fact, it’s as simple as adding an indoor compost bin to your kitchen.

  • Increase the lifespan of extra or leftover food. Maybe your eyes were bigger than your stomach when preparing your plate – we’ve all been there! Try storing extra food in eco-friendly containers like this one. You can even bring a reusable container when you go out to eat at a restaurant. Not only will you reduce your food waste, you’ll reduce your spending too!

For more tips on how to avoid food waste, check out this blog post.

6. Sharing Economy

They say it’s better to own than rent – except when the environment is at risk! Today, more Canadian cities are engaging in some cool sharing initiatives that contribute to a more circular economy. 

  • Share a car ride. Apps like Uride and Poparide make it easy to reduce your carbon footprint by splitting a vehicle to reach your destination.

  • Rent books from the library. If you are a book lover, consider renting books from a local library instead of buying new ones. There are also other reading alternatives like using a Kindle or listening to audiobooks.

  • Rent formal wear for a special event. This type of rental service is seriously clever – it’s no wonder it keeps growing in popularity. Instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars on a tux or new dress to wear for a few hours, why not rent for a fraction of the cost?

The sharing economy is an important pillar to reducing everyday waste in Canada. By shifting to access over ownership, products and services must be created with reusability as the primary focus. As environmental awareness grows, the sharing business model is only going to get bigger!

7. Swap and Repair

The idea of swap and repair is just how it sounds – before you buy something new, try to fix it or use it differently. It’s all about getting resourceful and extending the life of everyday products.

Before replacing a household item, ask yourself: does it really need to be replaced? Can it be repaired or repurposed? Can it be gifted or donated?

The swap and repair theme is a chance to get your creative juices flowing - and give used items a second life. Check out this post for 22 awesome DIY projects that you can do with commonly used items around your home.


Going zero waste is not a one-size-fits-all type of lifestyle. Start by making small, sustainable changes that work best for you. Remember, you can’t do everything - but you can still make a positive impact by doing your part.

What zero waste swaps have you made in your everyday life? Let me know if the comments below!






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