Zero Waste Shopping

Why aim for zero waste?

There are around 270,000 tons of plastic floating on the surface of the world’s oceans and an estimated 700 marine species are being threatened with extinction as a result of this waste.

In the open ocean, plastics are mingled with marine communities, making removal at sea extremely difficult without causing additional harm to sea life. Preventive measures are therefore our best solution to this immense problem.

Limiting your personal use of plastic can be an integral and direct way you can limit the amount of plastics ending up in our oceans. We need to choose re-usables over disposables beyond the well-known examples of water bottles, straws, coffee cups, and plastic bags. This resource is a cookbook, so let's look at the resources we have available to us in BC to help reduce our amount of plastic consumption when it comes to cooking!

Check out Plastic Phobia's 14 Must-Watch Environmental Documentaries on Netflix.

But first, what do we mean by zero waste?

"We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly, we need millions of people doing it imperfectly" Anne Marie Bonneau - The Zero Waste Chef

Don't worry, we're not talking about fitting all of your trash inside of a mason jar by year's end here. When we use the term 'zero waste' in relation to shopping, we're looking at reducing the consumption of single-use packaging as much as possible within the confines of financial limitations, availability and practicality. Some products just don't travel or keep well without the help of plastic, but where there are alternatives and opportunities to skip the packaging you can significantly decrease the amount of packaging you're sending to landfill (directly or indirectly through broken recycling systems and contaminated batches of recycling etc).

But what if it's biodegradable or compostable?

There are a lot of new packaging materials coming out now that claim to be "biodegradable" or "compostable" and in an ideal world these would be game-changers in the waste world, but unfortunately there are many instances where they are wrongly disposed of and actually end up contaminating recycling and composting collections and diverting everything to landfill with them.

Not all composting facilities can handle these materials because they require very specific conditions in order to break down and compost properly. There's also the containers that end up in our waterways and washing out to seas, where "compostable bioplastics" or plastics labelled as 'biodegradable in the environment' are not degraded in marine conditions, where parameters such as temperature, oxygen, and salinity are very different than those expected in a composting process, and so they have equivalent properties in the marine environment in this regard as persistent plastics.

So the best solution, when practical, is to avoid packaging when you can. The more consumers' demand increases, the more of these amazing stores we'll start to see as well as supermarkets expanding their bulk sections etc.

Where can we shop in BC?

Check out these amazing small businesses along the Sea to Sky, throughout BC and beyond:

Sea to Sky:

The Green Moustache - Whistler

The Green Moustache - Squamish

The Grounded Grocer - Squamish

Lower Mainland:

The Green Moustache - North Vancouver

Nada - Vancouver

The Soap Dispensary - Vancouver

Jarr Grocery Delivery - Online business delivers to Downtown Vancouver, North Vancouver and some Greater Vancouver areas as well as Bowen Island!

Pick Eco Refills - Chilliwack

Pomme Natural Market - Port Coquitlam

Bulk Barn - 20 stores throughout BC!

At the time of publishing they were not accepting reusable containers due to Covid 19 policies, but state on their website that they look forward to reintroducing their Reusable Container Program back into all stores across the country when they are permitted by respective Public Health Authorities.
Keep an eye out for The Source Bulk Foods coming to Vancouver. They have 85 stores worldwide including Canada's first stores set to open in Vancouver and Toronto.

Vancouver Island:

Zero Waster Emporium - Victoria

Pomme Natural Market* - Nanaimo

Local Refillery - Courtenay

Morningstar Farm Milk Dispenser** - Parksville

*While Pomme Natural Market is not exclusively a bulk store they will tare the weights of your containers before you shop at their bulk bins so you don’t need to use their plastic bags and ties**Morningstar Milk Dispenser is Canada's first Milk-On-Tap Dispenser!Greater BC: Chickpeace Zero Waste Refillery - KelownaFillosophy Refill Bar - OliverFills Good - Sechelt

Your local supermarket?:

There are often bulk sections in ordinary supermarkets that range in size and variety from store to store. Don't be afraid to approach staff while in store and ask if you are able to use your own bags when filling from their bulk bins.

Sodastream gas cylinder refills:

Sodastream Retailers such as Walmart, Canadian Tire and London Drugs have a cylinder exchange program. In Whistler you can also exchange your gas cylinders at Home Hardware in Function Junction and refills can also be obtained at the Grounded Grocer in Squamish.

Zero Waste Canada has a more extensive Zero Waste Shopping Directory which includes businesses beyond BC's borders. Check it out here.

Guide to buying zero waste groceries in Canada by Productcare Recycling

Zero Waste.mp4

Get Zero-Wasted in Whistler

There are some great businesses in Whistler offering package-free ingredients. This video features Coast Mountain Brewing, The Velvet Cafe and The Green Moustache, all located within 50 meters of each other in Function Junction. To be the ultimate eco-conscious consumer you could bike there via the valley trails or catch a bus!

On The Line - Episode Two - eXXpedition Workshop.mp4

On The Line - Episode 2 - Exxpedition Workshop