Our mission is to make the Zero Waste lifestyle fashionable and accessible to everyone. Because it is time to take sustainability seriously. PAREdown Home Website is Canada's number one site for information on living Zero Waste; sharing DIY tips, our favorite brands and products and stores across Canada. We live Zero Waste and our goal is to inspire you to do the same.
On one hand, striving to live Zero Waste requires discipline and committing to the principles of minimalism. But at times, my fierce commitment to this goal has overshadowed the simple sentimental pleasures in life that bring us joy; like displaying family photos. We have exactly, zero. Isn’t that sad? I struggle with the fact that photos are not recyclable. Traditional photo printing paper is coated with polythene, which reduces drying time and water absorption, but this means photos are a non-recoverable item that will one day be destined for landfill.
On the other hand, nostalgia is one of the most extraordinary sensations we experience in life. And, for each of us the sounds, sights and smells that trigger feelings of nostalgia are different; save one universal exception – photographs. Photographs of the people we love, the places we’ve visited, the adventures we’ve been on have the capacity to draw us back in time, allowing us to re-live those precious moments. For me, nothing compares to curling up on my Dad’s couch with our family photos. Even now, I remember how the album covers feel and how the sticky plastic covers on each page crinkle as they release from one page to the next when turned. Photos are tangible memories, a part of our legacy, and are often the possessions we cherish the most in life.
Luckily for me, The Universe decided to aid me in my plight, and I was contacted by a forward-thinking photo imaging company, Fracture. They asked me if was interested in participating in their October #FocusOnMoments campaign. Before, agreeing to participate in their campaign (more on that soon), I needed to learn more about their product and their commitment to sustainability. Here’s what I learned:
Fracture prints images directly on glass (not plexiglass, not Lexan and not a mix material with paper) this is important to note because those other items are not easily recycled and therefore often not accepted in curbside programs.
Fracture’s design is unique and intentionally minimal with no frame required, and they are ready to display the moment you receive your package, using a metal display stand or wall-mount screw, that is provided.
One of the company’s early goals was to be carbon-neutral. Through adopting an attitude of energy conservation inside the warehouse, maximizing natural light in their offices and planting trees, Fracture has achieved a carbon-neutral status.
Fracture recycles all excess un-used glass, in the warehouse.
Fracture ships your package with sustainability in mind, using 99% renewable & recyclable materials that are intentionally designed to be lightweight thus requiring less energy to transport.
Fracture is changing their design to be 100% recyclable. It’s important to acknowledge that no one imagines throwing their precious photos in the trash, however the reality is, one day, far far into the future, your images will be discarded. And, for me, there is peace-of-mind in knowing there are photo printing options that do not need to end up in the waste stream. Currently, the only component of the Fracture that is not recyclable is the foam backing used to preserve the image, this component will be changing to a recyclable backing in the next 16 months.
On my journey to live sustainably, one value that is important to me is to support sustainable business practice. However, this can be tricky to navigate at times, as two fundamental principles of living zero waste that compete with this value are to choose second hand whenever possible, and to challenge our wants vs our needs.
While purchasing second hand photos of other people, vice printing our own, has a certain humorous appeal, it doesn’t really apply in this situation. But challenging our wants vs needs absolutely applies. But, understanding Fracture’s commitment to sustainable business practice and reflecting on the importance of displaying our family’s most precious moments made partnering with Fracture an easy decision.
Fracture’s #FocusOnMoments campaign reflects their commitment to the environment, and, hopefully inspires you to act! Their campaign challenges you to get outside and start taking images of nature, of yourself in nature, or of you doing something positive for nature (such as a beach cleanup, planting a tree, growing a garden – you get the idea).
Sometimes, the first step is as simple as getting back into nature to remind us of her fragility and evoke that protective sense of responsibility that is within each of us. We need to change the narrative from, “but what can I do as an individual?” to “look at the positive steps I am taking”.
Follow Fracture on Instagram, @fractureme, and share your photo and story tagging #FocusOnMoments
On October 27th Fracture will announce 20 winners, YES you read that right, who will each receive 135 USD worth of Fractures.
Check out Fracture here to learn more or shop now using discount code: PAREDOWN10
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There are a lot of zero waste swaps that you can make while transitioning to a low-waste lifestyle. Many of these changes have HUGE financial savings! One of my fave swaps was ditching my plastic razor and disposable blades for a safety razor and stainless steel blades. Shaving with a safety razor is not scary or difficult (contrary to popular belief), and it’s way easier on the wallet! Talk about a #winwin
I don’t know about you, but I was spending a couple hundred dollars a year on razor blades and shaving cream. I cringed every time I saw the price tag for my new blades. It had never occurred to me to buy a safety razor before going zero waste because they aren’t available at the drugstores where I bought razor blades. Plus, the blades are over-packaged and my shaving cream came in an aerosol can. GASP. Talk about so much waste going to the landfill!
Your legs, armpits, and lady bits (or man bits) do not need to be trashy!
Safety razors are legit. They’ve been around for over a hundred years, and you can find them second hand or buy new (prices seem to vary from $10 to $100). Check out your local thrift stores or shop online, and you may find some sweet vintage styles. They’re such good quality that your razor may last a lifetime. The razor blades can last for quite a few shaves too, and are WAY less expensive than their fancy 5-blade counterparts. I have seen 100 blades available for less than $20!
Another bonus is that you don’t have to worry about the latest and greatest razor and blade options that come with mainstream disposables. One minute you’re shaving with 2 blades, the next they’ve come out with 3 or 4 blades, and now you can buy 5 blades, all boasting the best shave of your life. This is the result of planned obsolescence. With new blades comes new razor styles, and you’ll end up replacing them often over the years (that or you may be shaving with single-use razors, which is still money down the drain and trash in the can). To that I say, “NO THANKS!”
Okay, so investing in a safety razor and the stainless steel blades is easy on the wallet and creates less trash. But, and there’s always a but, “it’s scary and I might cut myself all over and it could look like a murder scene in my bathroom.” Those are valid concerns, for real.
Let’s break it down into some easy steps:
Get to know your razor: This is the first step to becoming comfortable with a safety razor. Feel its weight, and practice holding it. Check out some YouTube videos on how to install the razor blades, and get it ready for its first shave!
Get comfortable: If it’s your first time using a safety razor, run a bath or fill the sink with water. Throw on some good tunes and maybe even light a candle. This is the ultimate self-care opportunity!
Lather up: You can buy shaving cream in the form of a soap bar, which is zero waste – and less chemicals – compared to the aerosol options. You can use the shave soap by itself with water to create lather on your legs, or use a brush to create the lather. The bonus of using a brush is that your shave soap will last way longer, but it’s not necessary.
Shave: This is the fun part!! Safety razors need to be held at a 45-degree angle to shave. Let the weight of the razor do the work, there’s no need to apply pressure.
Take your time: When it’s your first shave, take your time and don’t rush. I nicked myself once with my first shave (which is average for me anyway!), but I was incredibly mindful of the entire process. Eventually shaving with a safety razor will become second nature, and it will be quicker. But for now, go slow to get the hang of it.
Moisturize: Your legs will be noticeably dry after you shave, perhaps more than normal. Body butter or moisturizing cream will do the trick, and you’ll feel super pampered afterwards too!
Cleaning and Storage: Rinse off your razor when you’re done shaving to get rid of any shave soap left on the blade, and then store it in a dry place. Every once in a while, wash your razor thoroughly. I’m new to the safety razor, but I’ve read that soaking a razor in water and vinegar (1:1 ratio) for about 5-10 minutes, then scrubbing the grit and grime off with an old toothbrush will do the job.
Disposal: How and where you dispose of your dull razor blades will vary depending on where you live. Contact your municipality to find out how you can recycle the blades. You can store your used blades in a ‘blade bank’ (you can even use a mason jar for this purpose) until you’re ready to dispose of them properly.
Shaving with a safety razor is a transition in and of itself. Once you get in the swing of things, you’ll be rockin’ this zero waste routine in no time. Ultimately you’ll save money, and by recycling your blades, you will create less waste. Good luck and have fun!
Have any recommendations on shaving with a safety razor? Comment below!
The post The Safety Razor: A Stainless Steal appeared first on PAREdown.
My top 10 Zero Waste product and lifestyle swaps to replace single use items and unsustainable habits.
If you goal is to get as close as you can to Zero Waste then becoming acquainted with essential oils is a must. I use essential oils daily in the products I make, from: strengthening our toothpaste and sunscreen to giving fragrance to our dryer balls and household cleaner – Essential oils are a godsend to any DIY’er or Zero Waste’er.
Understanding how to properly use essential oils ain’t no joke.
I highly recommend scouting out a local shop with knowledgeable staff that can guide you in all your DIY recipe adventures.
Two of my favourite places to find essential oils are:
Nezza Naturals in Victoria, British Columbia and,
Anarres Apothecary in Toronto, Ontario
Both shops offer online sales, discounts for refills, and staff is well educated in how to properly use essential oils.
I use my reusable bags for produce, bulk and making nut milk. They are easily in my TOP 5 favourite purchases since going Zero Waste.
For the first 18 months I washed and reused my plastic bags , but when they started sprouting leaks I knew it was time to invest in a better option. There are many options for reusable bulk bags out there: muslin, hemp, cotton and lycra mesh versions like the ones pictured in the image.
Personally I use Carebags, they are a multi-purpose Canadian brand that holds up to 11 lbs and lasts up to 2o years – think of all the single-use plastic bags you are no longer using! Cashiers can easily see the product and read codes through the mesh and there is no problem if the bags get damp in the fridge crisper.
Stop saving cloth napkins for guests! Using cloth napkins is a simple swap that costs nothing – in fact it will save you money.
A tip from my family to yours!
We own a plethora of coloured napkins and at the beginning of each week we each are assigned (a job fought over by the small humans in our household) a different coloured napkin to use. This way we each know whose napkin is whose and we reuse them throughout the week until they need laundering.
Seriously, whenever I write or say this brand name out loud I am nostalgic for my childhood and can think of nothing other than my brother’s Batman comic collection.
“Pow, Blam, KA-POW!”
Sorry – too easy to get carried away! Cuppow canning jar lids are easily one of my favourite and most used items. I used the lids on 250 ml mason jars to turn them into toddler sippy cups, I use them to turn my mason jar into travel mug or to transport my smoothie or water on the go. No need to invest in reusable water bottles and travel mugs – just invest in a Cuppow lid that will transform you mason jar collection!
Making the switch to cloth diapers is not as difficult as we make it out to be. As I get older I am realizing that human nature is to over-think, stress-out and create obstacles where there aren’t any.
Ninety-nine percent of the time when I look back, at something I had to mentally “work up to” I think to myself, “wow, that wasn’t as complicated as I thought it was going to be.”
PROS: save money | no hidden chemicals | no late night diaper runs | potty training will happen sooner |less frequent diaper blow outs.
CONS: an extra load of laundry each week | high initial investment | carting home a soiled diapers if you’re out.
Whatever the pros and cons there are options to mitigate. We purchased a hose attachment for our toilet to spray off dirty diapers before putting them into the diaper bin. You can also purchase leak proof wet bags to take with you on outings and a wet bag to line your laundry bin – toss the bag along with the diapers directly into the wash. Finally there is no rule stating that if you use cloth diapers that you can never use disposable ones. We used disposable diapers at night because keeping bums dry = better sleep = better parents!
So we go from diapers to menstrual cups – seems a natural segue.
I kid you not, the menstrual cup is LIFE CHANGING.
I have said this many times before and I will continue to praise the almighty good work of the Diva Cup. This is my single favourite switch since going Zero Waste.
A short, yet comprehensive list of the benefits of choosing a reusable menstrual cup over disposable menstrual products: save money, with proper care a menstrual cup can last up to 10 years | save time, the Diva Cup only needs to be emptied every 12 hours | less unnecessary leakage | reduce exposure to toxins | sleep in ANY position you want.
If you are lucky enough to live in a neighbourhood that boasts a farmers market, take the time to check it out.
Farmers markets are about so much more than local produce, although that in itself is awesome! Farmers market provide the opportunity to engage with your community, support your local economy, find unpackaged produce, all while enjoying live music, prepared foods and entertainment.
When we lived in Victoria our family viewed our weekly farmers market trip as a fun family outing. We brought our picnic set to purchase dinner from a local food truck and enjoyed it in the park, with friends, listening to live jazz music while our children danced and played.
A welcome alternative to the grocery store grind.
Skoy Kitchen Srubbers
One of my favourite switches are from kitchen sponge to Skoy scrubbers.
Dish scrub cloths are not even slightly sexy – but Skoy scrubbers are cute and they work fantastically well!
These scrubbers are made of cotton and a food grade, non-toxic hardener so they are 100% compostable. What is even better is that they last for months, after cleaning my pots and pans for the better part of six months my scrubber receive a second life cleaning bathroom sinks and toilets – How Exciting!
Woody 3 in 1 Pencils
Wax Crayon | Water Colour | Coloured Pencil
These pencils are one of our latest swaps. My kids are at the age where they love drawing and I wanted to find a product that could take the place of felt pens and traditional crayons.
The Woody Pencils are FAST becoming one of my favourite swaps.
Their chubby design makes them easy to hold and difficult to break. The colours are vibrant and modern and with a damp paint brush they easily turn any picture into a water colour masterpiece.
They Draw on:
Cardboard | Windows | Glass | Dark Surfaces | Blackboards | Metal | Paper
Making them a multi purpose tool for any Zero Waste household.
Made with 100% PEFC certified wood. PEFC guarantees that the wood products used come from sustainably managed forests.
Bokashi Kitchen Composter
If you do not have access to municipal compost programs or if your thumb is more brown than green, you need to learn about bokashi composting.
Fast, Easy, Pest-Free composting solution for ALL your food waste.
Yup that’s right, transform ALL food scraps: cooked foods, dairy, meat, grains, pasta, fruits and veggies into garden ready compost in 4-6 weeks.
I am all for easy and that is why bokashi composting spoke to me – that and my garden needs all the help it can get! Diverting organic matter from landfill and turning into nutrient rich soil for growing you own food is winning in my books!
If you want to visit Bokashi Living’s website to learn more click here Bokashi Composter
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Along with my favourite habit and product swaps I share one of my favourite quotes, this one is by Margret Meed. I think it is relevant in so many aspects of our lives today. Yes, the climate crisis is a massive problem, but too often we let ourselves off the hook believing that only massive solutions, enforced by governments, will fix the problem. Instead, we need to look inward, hold ourselves accountable for how we choose to move through the world and lead by example. The results will be greater happiness, health and future.
For anyone interested in learning more about or purchase any of products in the blog you can do so by clicking on the botton PAREdown Store
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If you follow my blog regularly, you know that I promote the idea that Zero Waste is an aspirational goal, a concept to build your life around and to provide guidance for minimizing the footprint you and your family are leaving on the environment. What Zero Waste is not is an unbending religion or an exclusive group of all-or-nothing adherents.
For individuals pondering the idea of adopting a Zero Waste lifestyle, I encourage writing out a Top Ten List (or whatever number you are comfortable with) of items you’re not ready to/or cannot give up.
In my view, if you’re going to stick to a Zero Waste lifestyle, you must be realistic.
Had I asked anyone in my life, three years ago, what they thought the number one item on my list would be? I know without a doubt that the resounding answer from everyone would have been, “NEW SHOES!”
In the beginning, my husband and I had individual “Mulligan” Lists consisting of a few can’t-live-without personal luxury items as well as a number of household essentials. Much to my own surprise, new shoes did not make my final cut! Over the following weeks, as we went about daily life we encountered several other necessary household items that we’d inadvertently left off our lists. As a result, our lists grew to 14 and 16 items. So the goal in our first year was to find enough alternatives to reduce each list to 10 items.
Here are our original lists with updates:
As you can see, we were able to eliminate items. We did this slowly; we didn’t stress out about finding replacements. Instead, we found alternatives such as stovetop popcorn bought in bulk, plastic-free ice cream bars, and coconut oil in bulk. Over time, by living our daily lives and generally keeping our lists in mind, we were able to achieve our goal.
Now it is important to define what terms dictate your list. How extreme do you want to be? For us, we kept the list exclusively for items packaged in plastic. While we aim to buy as much as possible in bulk, we realize this is not a 100% achievable — yet. We continue to purchase select items in glass bottles, cardboard boxes, and even a few tin cans. Keeping in mind our belief in Progress over Perfection, we strive to keep these packaged items to a minimum. And through our gardening adventures, we plan to reduce/eliminate our dependence on them.
Having a “gimme” list is useful for many reasons. In the beginning, it is a fantastic tool to help you navigate the grocery store. If the items are packaged with plastic and not on your list, don’t buy them. The list is also a reminder of the luxuries you can look forward to. If you are feeling down about not being able to indulge to the extent you did in the past, try focusing on the items on your list that you can still have.
We exist in an “on demand” society where we are used to having what we want, when we want it. Moving away from this way of thinking is going be difficult. The silver lining is that you will start to feel grateful for the times you CAN indulge in items that you no longer purchase for your home. For me, it’s, eating chips and salsa at a restaurant; for my husband, it’s going out for an ice cream cone. Now, when, our kids have something as simple as juice at a friend’s house or at a restaurant, they regard it as a treat. These are all things we used to purchase for the home (and therefore consumed without thought). Now that these items are no longer part of our daily life, we appreciate them in a special way when we have the opportunity to enjoy them. I love this!
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough” – Melodie Beatie
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Drinking coffee for me was never a daily occurrence, it was an activity paired with Sunday brunch or a walk and talk date with a girlfriend. However, my husband’s nine-month deployment overseas changed everything. I received an eye-opening glimpse into the world of a single-parent (R.E.S.P.E.C.T – I can hear Aretha singing it now), at the time my children were eight months old and two years old, we also have a large dog, and a house and everything required my attention. Good-bye sanity, hello full-blown coffee addict.
After giving up dairy, my love for coffee waned. I tried making almond milk “creamer” with zero success; I cannot seem to achieve the same thickness as the store-bought brands. I also tried drinking my coffee black, making it into an espresso, or adding a bit of sugar. Nothing I did to my coffee could rival the intense pleasure I use to receive from adding 10 % cream…..sigh.
I was beginning to contemplate giving up coffee altogether.
It only took a few early morning wake-ups at 5:45 am courtesy of my darling daughter to set me straight. I was determined to come up with a non-dairy solution to my Zero Waste coffee woes that didn’t involve a daily visit to my favourite barista down the street.
A few Google searches, a messy kitchen and only one or two cock-ups, I am pleased to share that this Mama is back in love with her coffee. To all of you, Zero Wasters out there trying to reduce your consumption of animal products give this a try – the only challenge is trying to use this strictly for coffee. I have been known to walk around the house eating this straight out of the jar…dangerous, seriously dangerous!
1/2 Cup Dutch Cocoa1 tsp Cinnamon1/2 Cup Maple Syrup1/4 Cup Coconut Oil
There is no real method to follow with this recipe; I like to simply mix everything in a larger measuring cup or container and store it in a smaller jar – Bonne Maman jam jars are a perfect size.
Depending on the time of year you may wish to heat your coconut oil slightly; this will allow you to incorporate it with the other ingredients more easily.
If you live in a warmer climate, you may also wish to store the “creamer” in a cool place to avoid separation.
So there you have it, the “creamer” that saved my relationship with coffee — Phew!!
Zero Waste Vegan Coffee Creamer - YouTube
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