Today is the first day of Waste Reduction Week in Canada! A week dedicated to learning more about a circular economy and the vital role it plays in creating a sustainable future. Each day of the week (Oct 15 - 21) will focus on a different topic that will help illustrate the circular economy theory to help educate people and promote reducing waste!
To help get the word out, we've outlined the seven theme days below with some facts and ideas for how businesses and individuals can take strides towards a more sustainable future.
Monday, Circular Economy & Kick-off
To kick things off for the week, the theme of the day is to focus on educating people about a circular economy.
What is a circular economy?
A circular economy focuses on designing products so resources can be reused and reinvested in new products again and again. Reusing materials becomes part of the design and manufacturing process itself. In a linear economy, products are primarily designed and manufactured based on was the most economical and convenient with little or no regard for waste and resources.
All types of businesses can be a part of the circular economy cycle by choosing to use materials that are sustainable and by developing processes that repurpose materials. As individuals, every dollar you choose to spend on products or services can either contribute to waste production or to a more sustainable circular economy. It's up to you to decide what you want to support.
As manufacturers of seed paper, Botanical PaperWorks proudly puts this circular theory into practice by using recycled materials to manufacture and design an alternative to traditional paper and plastic products. Our eco-friendly seed paper products are made to be planted and transformed into something new that benefits the environment rather than be tossed away to end up in a landfill.
Clothing isn't generally the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about pollution and waste, but it's actually one of the big contributors. According to the EPA, 13.1 million tons of textiles are trashed each year! And what is perhaps even more alarming is that nearly half of the population still tosses perfectly good reusable textiles when there are tons of places to take used items. (SOURCE)
Individuals can help reduce the waste stream by:
- Choosing to support sustainable brands
- Donating used clothes
- Shopping at thrift stores
- Repurposing items that are too worn or damaged to donate into rags for cleaning
- If you know how to sew, reuse portions of old clothes to make something new such as a quilt. If you don't sew, share your materials with someone who does.
- Get crafty and use old clothes to make decorations for parties rather than buying one-time-use party supplies.
Textile-based businesses can make a difference by:
- Incorporating processes and programs to reuse materials
- Choosing better materials for long-lasting wear
- Choosing eco-friendly, natural fibers such as hemp
- Banning harmful chemicals and dyes
- Partnering with sustainable suppliers
Wednesday, Celebrating Champions & Innovators
This day is dedicated to celebrating leaders who exemplify sustainable business practices that contribute to a circular economy. Below are a few examples:
Method - This green cleaning supplies company uses infinitely recyclable materials, renewable energy and discarded plastic from the sea to make its packaging.
Levi Strauss - Every Levi’s store accepts old clothes and shoes of any brand, which they repurpose or recycle by transforming them into things such as insulation for buildings, cushioning material and new fibers for clothing.
Timberland & Omni United - The two brands teamed up to create a line of tires that are meant to be recycled into footwear outsoles once the tires are no longer usable.
Do you know a business that is leading the way within the circular economy? Post them in the comments and tell us how they are making a difference.
Plastics and Packaging Thursday
According to the BBC, as of 2015, approximately 6.3bn tonnes of plastic had been generated. Only 9% has been recycled, 12% incinerated and a whopping 79% is accumulated in landfills and the natural environment.
The circular economy drives changes towards recovering and reusing plastic waste as well as the development of alternatives to plastics that are biodegradable and earth-friendly. For example, Botanical PaperWorks offers Sustainable Packaging Solutions made with seed paper, a zero-waste plantable alternative that actually benefits the environment.
Food Waste Friday
It is estimated that $31 billion worth of food is wasted in Canada each year which is about 40% of the of food produced yearly in Canada. (SOURCE) Considering how many people in this world barely have enough to survive, we need to take those numbers very seriously and make some changes.
Here are some great ways to cut back on food waste:
- Plan meals more carefully and avoid impulse buying
- Can fruits and vegetables seasonally
- At restaurants, order in moderation and always take your leftovers
- Freeze leftovers if you don't want to eat the same thing for a while
- Store food properly so it stays good longer
- Only buy what you need and avoid over stocking the fridge
- Donate unopened goods to food banks
- Compost any left over bits, skins, and peels
Saturday, Swap, Share, Repair
Extend product lifecycles by avoiding disposal and focusing on reusing or repairing. For example, individuals can host a clothing and accessory swap party with friends. Everyone brings a few items of clothes and accessories that they no longer use so you can swap with each other. The same idea could be used with other items such as video games, home decor, or books.
Businesses can contribute by offering refurbished products which are energy saving and cost-effective. Clothing outlets can also offer consignment programs to help give items a second life.
We live in an era where technological advancements are hard to keep up with. Not only do we have all kinds of gadgets but they are also constantly changing and being replaced by newer versions of the same thing. According to theworldcounts.com, we generate around 40 million tons of electronic waste every year, worldwide. That’s like throwing away 800 laptops every second!
That's why recycling your electronic waste is so important. Those old gadgets might seem useless to you but they are packed with valuable resources that can be harvested and put back to use. Just be sure to take your e-waste to a Certified E-Waste Recycler. If they are not certified, your e-waste may just end up in a landfill in Asia or Africa where they will not only harm the planet but will release toxins that are harmful to the workers, many of whom are children. (SOURCE)