Easy Ways to Reduce Trash in Your Home

It all began with a photo of a small trash jar. Bea Johnson, the founder of the zero waste lifestyle movement, challenged people to reduce their carbon footprint by eliminating or drastically reducing garbage that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

Johnson’s family generates less than a litre of waste per year, and her how-to book Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste was an instant best-seller. She shares her five rules for producing as little waste as possible in it:

  • Refuse things you don’t need
  • Reduce what you do need
  • Reuse or upcycle items you consume
  • Recycle any materials you cannot reduce or refuse, so they can be transformed into other things
  • Rot or compost everything else

Many people are enthusiastic about the zero waste lifestyle, and they use the hashtags #zerowaste and #zerowasteliving to share their ideas and success stories on Instagram. It’s a significant step toward a greener future, especially given that Canada is one of the world’s most wasteful nations. We generate 510 kilogrammes of waste per person per year, which is sent to over 10,000 landfill sites. About 2.8 million tonnes of plastic waste are included in this figure.

Here’s how to get started living a waste-free lifestyle:

Just say no

Small, everyday items, such as plastic produce bags, disposable coffee cups, and plastic straws, can quickly add to the trash heap, so refuse anything you don’t absolutely need. Instead, use reusable alternatives like grocery tote bags or ask your local coffee shop’s barista to refill your coffee mug. Due to current COVID restrictions, some larger chains have suspended refill services.
You should also politely decline hand-me-down clothing, furniture, and decorative items that you know you won’t use or enjoy.

Purge your stuff

Donate items you don’t wear, use, or need to reduce your overall possessions. You’re not only reducing waste, but you’re also giving back to the community. Once you’ve gotten used to purging, try to stick to the “one in, one out” rule, which states that for every item you bring into your home, something similar must leave.
Make a date with your closet and bookshelf, and donate or donate anything that doesn’t “spark joy,” as Marie Kondo suggests. Holding a clothing swap, selling items online, and shopping at thrift stores are all sustainable options.

Reuse often

Instead of throwing things away, reuse them. Rinse out your glass spaghetti sauce jar and use it to store other foods, for example. Instead of paper towels, use microfiber cloths. They are machine washable and cost less than $5 per pack at your local dollar store. You get the picture.

Let materials have a new life

It’s great to recycle paper, glass, metal, and plastic, but don’t just throw things in your blue bin and hope they’ll be recycled. Learn the recycling rules in your area; otherwise, items will end up in the landfill. In fact, only 9% of Canada’s plastic waste was recycled in 2019, with 86 percent ending up in landfills. Contamination occurs when food remains in containers or when paper and plastic are mixed together, resulting in the entire recycling bin being destined for the landfill because it cannot be repurposed.
We only recycle about 11 percent of our waste in Canada, owing to a lack of markets for all of the plastic we recycle.

Break it down

Composting your household waste saves tonnes of garbage because most landfills contain around 60% organic matter. Our flower beds and vegetable gardens benefit from the nutrient-rich fertiliser it provides. If your community has a green bin programme for organic waste, it’s simple to fall into the habit of throwing food scraps in there.

Some easy ways to go zero waste

  • Use your own containers to buy food in bulk.
  • Buy shampoo and soap in bars instead of bottles.
  • Wash windows with newspaper (this also helps reduce streaks—an added bonus!)
  • Plant a vegetable garden to cut down on plastic-wrapped produce from the grocery store.
  • Make your own stock from chicken bones or veggie scraps instead of buying it.
  • Swap out plastic toothbrushes and cotton swabs for compostable bamboo ones
  • Buy toilet paper that’s individually wrapped in paper, not plastic.
  • Invest in a bidet, like Tushy or Brondell, and avoid the need for toilet paper in general. If more people adopted bidets into their homes, somewhere around 15 million trees could be saved! Contrary to belief, a bidet uses less water than toilet paper. A bidet uses roughly one-eighth of a gallon of water, while it takes about 37 gallons of water to make a single roll of toilet paper.
  • Cover leftovers with a plate, not plastic wrap.
  • Shop at farmers’ markets where they’ll take your egg cartons and berry baskets back.
  • Use reclaimed or eco-friendly materials in your home renovations.

In a room-by-room breakdown, Bea Johnson offers more great trips and hacks. While adopting a zero-waste lifestyle will not happen overnight, there are simple steps you can take to get there. See how many small, eco-friendly steps you can take to get started on your zero-waste lifestyle!

A Smart Home Guide for Beginners: Where to Start

Devices, appliances, and environmental systems around our homes have become WiFi and internet enabled as the Internet of Things (IoT) has grown exponentially. This has resulted in smart home technology, which allows you to control nearly everything electrical in your home from a single device (typically a smartphone or tablet), regardless of whether you are inside or outside. This is an understandably complex and perplexing new world. It is, however, simple to embrace with a simple start. Let’s look into the fundamentals of setting up a smart home.

What is a smart home?

Smart homes are made up of all the devices (including appliances) that can be controlled and automated remotely over the internet via a home wireless (WiFi) network. From home security systems and kitchen appliances to something as simple as a lightbulb or an electrical outlet, smart home devices are everywhere.Your smart home system can be controlled using an app installed on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, which allows you to connect and control your smart devices. You’ll never forget to run the dishwasher or turn off the lights again with hands-on monitoring, control, and automation.

Other advantages of smart home automation, aside from the convenience of having everything at your fingertips, include:

Increased comfort: With better lighting and thermostat control, your home will always be at the perfect temperature when you arrive home or wake up in the morning.Better energy efficiency: Having more precise control over unused appliances and devices means consuming less energy.

Increased security: You’ll never have to worry about your belongings when you’re not at home with home security and camera integration.

Added security: Don’t worry if you leave something on the stove or oven unattended; you can turn them off remotely!

Better understanding: Smart home systems can give you a lot of information about your habits and how you use your devices around the house.

Where should I start?

When designing your smart home, the most important factor to consider is a smart system app or hub. While most systems apps don’t require a physical hub to give you control over your devices, a smart hub makes voice commands much easier. The following are some of the most popular smart system apps and hubs:

Amazon Alexa; Google Assistant; Samsung Smart Things; Wink Hub. 

If you’re primarily interested in home security and environmental control, you can contact a home security or monitoring company, or even your cellular or internet provider in some cases. Home monitoring is available from Bell, Telus, Rogers, and ecobee, with some even including additional automation features.Note that the services listed above require a monthly plan, and you may be charged a fee if you want to add more devices or appliances.

Smart devices to get started with

The next step is to choose some smart devices to connect to your smart system so that you can get started right away. When installing smart devices, the main difference you’ll notice is the extra steps required to connect them to your WiFi network. It may appear complicated at first, but manufacturers always include simple setup instructions, and if you run into any problems, they usually have excellent customer service to assist you.When looking for these kinds of products, it’s always a good idea to look at customer feedback and reviews on multiple retailer’s websites. You’ll also want to double-check that they’re compatible with your smart system app to avoid the hassle of having to manage your home through multiple apps.

Smart home hub: You’ll still be able to control everything through your smart system app, but the voice command capabilities of this option mean you won’t always need your phone to control your home. Some hubs, such as Amazon Echo and Google Nest, also function as speakers, allowing you to listen to your favourite music whenever you want.Range of prices: $50 to $400

Smart thermostat: This device is more than just a programmable thermostat replacement. Have you forgotten to turn down the heat when you leave for the day? It’s no problem! Your home’s heating and cooling can be controlled and automated from anywhere. Some smart systems can even track your habits and adjust the temperature automatically as a result.Range of prices: ~$40 to $300

Smart light bulbs: You can now control the intensity, timing, and even colour of these intuitive LED options, which are not only more energy efficient than their incandescent counterparts. Simply replace your existing bulbs, connect to your smart system, and leave the rest to your fingers.The price range is $5 to $60.

Smart switches: A modern alternative to traditional switches and dimmers, smart switches eliminate the need to replace bulbs and provide complete remote control of your room lights. Imagine never having to get out of your comfortable bed or dinner to adjust the lights!The price range is between $20 and $80.

Smart outlets and power bars: Yes, even an outlet or a power bar can be smart! Simple objects such as lamps, fans, and basic coffee makers are transformed into remotely programmable and automated devices using these devices.Range of prices: $11 to $40

Smart cameras: If you use a regular CCTV (closed circuit television) camera system, you know how frustrating it can be to sift through hours of footage. Smart cameras’ intuitive motion sensor technology allows them to record only when motion is detected. They can also notify you of any motion detected and you can even view the video feed in real-time using a mobile device or computer. Now if you’re on vacation and someone attempts to gain entry to your home, you can immediately contact authorities.Price range: ~$50 to $500+

Smart door locks/deadbolts: With a smart lock, you’ll never have to worry about fumbling for your keys with an armload of groceries. The mobile phone in your pocket will unlock it as you approach the door. Some locks are also code-enabled, while others can still use a traditional key in the event you forget your phone. You can also text one-time entry codes to family, neighbours, or even service providers if urgent entry is needed.Price range: ~$85 to $350

Smart range/stove/oven: Replacing your existing stove with a smart stove is a culinary game changer. You can pre-heat, adjust, and shut it off remotely. A smart oven’s intuitive cooking technology can even make automatic adjustments based on what you’re cooking so you end up with the perfect dish, every time.Price range: ~$850 to $10,000+

Once you’ve made your home smart and are comfortable with your smart devices, which can be found at most big-box stores, you should definitely look into what these other smart appliances have to offer. Of course, there is a learning curve here, and upgrading your home’s technology is a big change, but the benefits of convenience, energy savings, and overall comfort and security make it worthwhile. Best of luck!