Nix the Plastics

PHOTOS BY STEVE SMITH, VISIONFIRE STUDIOS

Back to School. Is there a sweeter statement after two months with your precious darlings? I’m kidding… to a certain extent. Summer came as a much needed break in our routine and we are now wringing out the last few weeks of fun times while on family vacation. I heard someone say recently that August is the Sunday of summer. Still a day off but you know that Monday is looming. Shifting into Fall mode can be tricky. Jump starting those new/old routines, bedtimes, lunch packing… but it doesn’t all have to be about summer ending. Fall beginning is a fresh start! Being overly ambitious for my own good, with a Pinterest board jam packed, I’m getting focused on how to streamline and do more for less this Fall. Less garbage, less plastic, less hassle. More fun!
As a full-fledged garbage nerd, I love going to the Pictou County Solid Waste Facility. This is where I met Sasha Barnard, their Regional Educator. We worked together during this year’s Go Clean Get Green campaign as well. She has a wealth of knowledge, awesome ideas AND gets to share this with schools, the general public, social media, just about anywhere anyone will listen. Sasha teaches at every grade level. Grade primary to six focus on reducing waste and lifecycle concepts. “Not easy things to understand, but kids are naturally curious and already have an understanding of single use plastics” she says.
Incorporating waste-reducing practices into daily life is easier than you think. It just takes a conscious decision when the time arises. What better time than Back to School to set intentions and get motivated? The first thing Sasha suggests is to take an inventory of what you have: lunch containers, clothing, existing craft and school supplies. Before you just buy it all, there may be things you already have that you can scratch off your list before leaving the house.
Do you have extra of something or something that just doesn’t fit anymore? Why not host a neighbourhood back-to-school swap? Invite some friends over and see if you can scratch some more things off each other’s lists. This doesn’t have to be just for clothing, supplies count, too.
Now that you have reused and minimized your list as much as possible, Sasha suggests hitting up your local thrift store. If you don’t find something the first time you go, don’t be discouraged. The more often you go, the better the selection. When you are making purchases, look for items that contain recycled material and have low to no packaging. Think durability over disposability, choose something that will last longer. Taking care of your things so they don’t get wrecked is another waste-reduction concept that Sasha includes in her curriculum.
With all supplies acquired, lunches are another area that you can reduce your waste with a few simple changes, even if it’s one day a week, that will make a difference. Buying in-season fruit and veggies can be cut and packed in reusable containers vs packaged or canned fruit, pudding, jello etc. Make sure backpacks head out the door with water bottles and all the necessary tools for lunch, even when you buy lunch.
Most importantly, don’t be overwhelmed. Doing more for less shouldn’t be complicated. If everyone championed just one thing, we’d have a huge win reducing our garbage footprint.

LITTERLESS LUNCH
Challenge your workplace to do a “litterless lunch” once a week. Everyone packs reusable or compostable options.

PACK IN, PACK OUT
This saying doesn’t only apply to hiking in nature. Having kids take their garbage and uneaten food home, ensures it’s disposed of properly.

BACKPACK KIT
Everyone has a million single socks, right?? Use a sock to take clean cutlery to school and stash the dirty cutlery for home. Then simply throw it in the wash and grab another one for tomorrow!

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Rachael McLean
This fall Rachael gets her last little one on the bus to start school. The first day of school will fill many a Mama with a load of emotion. It’s safe to say that a glass of wine will be had by more than a few that day. So, it’s fitting that Rachael chats with grape growers Dave and Anita Poirier who are producing their own wine along the West River. Cheers to a new season and fresh starts!