July 23, 2019

Recycling is in the Past

Rodrigo Torres-Andrade

We have to recognize that we have reached a breaking point in our ability to recycle. We are not only failing miserably at properly sorting out our garbage, but the garbage we do manage to organize is no longer being received with open arms by the countries we ship it to.

This has forced us to rediscover the art reducing and re-using. Behaviours that were once seen as being cheap or stingy are now gaining popularity as we learn that less is indeed sometimes more, and we begin to value each item not only for what it can immediately provide us with, but also for what it can do for us - in the future.

That said, where does the intrigued “consumer” find a market that by definition is against “consumerism”? It appears social media is now the place to find this occult information and companies are finding themselves working on their online presence to make their unique products known. With a focus on “zero waste” and therefore, reducing (and if possible, completely eliminating) the need for single use packaging, these companies are gaining increased momentum.

Some companies such as Saponetti (@sapnonetti.ca) are drawing our attention to issues we never think about, such as the amount of waste involved in simple routine dental items (toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, and yes… even dental floss!), and of course providing eco-friendly alternatives. Certainly an interesting spin on the “you don’t know you need this until you see it” sales philosophy.

Other companies such as Unboxed Market (@unboxedmarket) have completely eliminated the need for any packaging and promote a zero waste environment. Handy, multiple-use bags and containers are available for purchase and we are now welcome to bring our own as well. These two companies, while both small in scope and retail space, are quickly gaining popularity and relying on good old word-of-mouth (aka bloggers and social media) to find their place among the bigger supply chains. @zerowastewarbler for example, will often mention businesses such as these and the followers are quite engaged, sharing their experiences in trying to embrace a “waste-free” style of living.

While some argue that going “waste-free” is just a fad which will quickly dissipate given the extra effort involved on behalf of the consumer, some recent initiatives are proving the opposite. Earlier this year, a new shopping platform was presented at the World Economic Forum called Loop, run by the New Jersey-based recycling company TerraCycle.This program has partnered with Loblaws and will allow for you to order several of your usual household items and brands online, such as Oral-B, Dove, The BodyShop, and Tide amongst others. The order will be delivered to your door in sleek, appealing and reusable containers. When finished, they will be picked up and sanitized by Loop for repeat use.

It is hard to ignore this trend, and studies show that the majority of Canadians are interested in embracing a waste-reduction style of living, in particular when it comes to single-use plastic packaging. While we wait to see the bigger markets join the party, you will likely find yourself searchingInstagram, Twitter, Facebook, independent or sponsored bloggers, both to find the latest information as a consumer, or to advertise your own “green living” initiative.