December 11, 2018
Harshita Saxena, a student in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, recycles containers in the Conestoga College Doon campus cafeteria. Photo by Clara Montgomery, Spoke News

By Clara Montgomery, Spoke News

Reducing waste production and living a lifestyle that produces minimal waste are becoming more and more popular among people and corporations.

Environmental issues, such the growth of the great Pacific garbage patch, have grabbed the attention of a few mainstream companies — and more of them are beginning to advocate for waste reduction.

Starbucks, for example, began offering straw-free lids this year. Bulk Barn has a reusable container program designed to encourage customers to avoid using disposable bags.

“That program was introduced in February of 2017 and it was a slow go at first,” said Rita Borho, the owner of Bulk Barn on Weber Street, Kitchener. “But now, I would say I have between five and 10 customers every day using the program.”

Borho said the concept of bulk stores is what drew her to buy Bulk Barn in the first place.

“You want to try a new recipe? Well, you don’t have to buy a whole jar of a spice to try it. At Bulk Barn, you can just buy one teaspoon of it and you can try your recipe.”

There is a downside to the ability to buy small amounts of products like spices and food at bulk stores.

Employee uniforms at Bulk Barn. Photo by Clara Montgomery / Spoke News

“If there’s a kilogram of pepper in one box and everybody buys 20 grams, how many pieces of plastic are used to sell one box of pepper?” Borho asked, with reference to people making purchases without using the refillable containers program. “That’s why it’s so important to use your own containers. Because if it was 90 people who bought 100 grams, just to put some numbers together, that’s 90 bags that didn’t have to go to the dump or into the ocean.”

The internet is also overflowing with articles outlining ways to begin the journey to a zero-waste lifestyle. This guide by Trash is for Tossers gives realistic tips on how to reduce waste production and even has reusable versions of everyday products for sale at the end.

However, for a lot of people, reducing waste is not at the top of their priority list.

Jamie Sirbu, a customer at Starbucks, said he prefers drinking without a straw in general and that it’s not the environmental factor that impacts his decision.

“I want to say yes,” Sirbu said hesitantly when asked if he thought it was important to stop using straws. “I don’t want to sound bad and I get where they’re coming from. I saw a video of a turtle with a straw in its nose and that makes me feel kinda bad.”

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