Getting Personal About Going Green: Courtney

How I got Personal About Going Green

As a disclaimer - I'm already very passionate about this topic and consider myself to already be environmentally conscious. This challenge was a fun way to see how I could push myself even further into creating less waste. It was surprisingly easy once I committed to not only doing the every day things like recycling plastics and paper at work and home, but to think about all the other areas in my life where waste could be reduced.

How I got personal about the environment

For my home life our household already recycles paper and plastics in accordance with the voluntary municipal recycling program available to us. However we don't have a composting program in St. John's as it is largely discouraged in the downtown region due to compost receptacles' tendency to attract rodents. So I asked some friends in other parts of the city if they compost and how they go about doing so. I've learned that there are services available where someone will come by for a small fee and pick up your compost for you and deliver it to farms and other places it can be used. Luckily for me, my friend's dad picks hers up for free, to be used in his personal garden, and she was more than happy to allow me to drop mine off to her for pick up! Given that most of my meals are cooked at home and that I follow a vegetarian diet I create a lot of food waste that is otherwise thrown in the garbage. In the span of three days I created almost a 5 gallon bucket in food scraps alone. It felt good to know that it was going somewhere it could be useful instead of just a landfill.

Green Circle Certified

Recycling at work is also quite easy since becoming a Green Circle salon, it's now second nature. It's a much better program than our municipal one in that all the recycling is separated instead of just being grouped as 'paper or plastic'. In the salon we separate paper, cardboard, recyclable containers, colour tubes, plastic bottles, metals, and even hair! So the three day challenge while at work was a total breeze.

I found the challenge the hardest when I was out in public places, like when I got a coffee at Starbucks there was really nowhere for me to recycle it as they only have plastic bottle recycling receptacles there. When I got lunch at the mall my food was served on a plastic plate with a plastic fork with only a bottle recycling bin available once again. I ended up rinsing things out in the bathroom and bringing them home with me to be recycled, which wasn't as big an inconvenience as it may sound. My biggest issue when I'm out is remembering to bring my reusable items, so by the time Sunday came I set a reminder on my phone to bring my travel mug so when it came time to get my coffee I was prepared.
It struck me how much waste one person can really create in such a short time just doing everyday normal activities. Food scraps, plastic bags, coffee cups, food wrappers, tissue, napkins, soda cans, take out containers and utensils, product packaging, and straws to name a few. Had I not recycled any of that I could have easily filled a large garbage bag all on my own.

Let's Be Green Together!

If I could offer any advice to someone looking to decrease their carbon footprint, it would be to be aware of the impact our waste habits are having on our earth. Do some research and watch some documentaries - it will be a rude, but necessary, awakening. Once you've educated yourself, educate those around you! Take the time to share your knowledge with others! Aside from that, look into what programs are available to you where you live and work. They take a bit of thought in the beginning, but after a day or so it's easy and becomes quite natural to separate your waste. Be prepared when going out! Bring those reusable bags and fancy coffee tumblers and pack your lunch in reusable containers as opposed to Ziplocs. Once you make these small changes a habit it becomes a part of your life and these habits can and will turn into a positive impact on our environment!