Welcome to the third post for the Sustainable Humans of Guelph series! Meet Wendy Li, a fourth year in the Landscape Architecture program; who is insanely passionate about sustainability communities and design! Wendy is… More
So a couple weeks ago we talked about some ways you can cut down on your waste while on the go. This next installment tackles one of the largest sources of household waste, our food – how we get it, store it, use it, and get rid of it.
We’ll start at the first step, in the grocery store
1) Reusable bags
For many of us this might go without saying, but it’s a good first step for a lot of people looking to cut down on their plastic waste. Reusable shopping bags for your groceries are a must, but the most important thing it to be prepared. I’m trying to always have a super light weight bag (like this) stashed in the bottom of my purse or bag just in case I happen to grab something while I’m running around.
Even the best of us are sometimes guilty of grabbing a plastic produce bag or two though, especially for more fragile produce like leafy greens. Just as important as carry-out bags are reusable produce bags like these, which can also be used for bulk items and to store produce at home.
2) Choose Wisely
Most modern grocery stores are not designed to limit waste. Nothing makes me crazier than seeing something that’s not even overly delicate, like a lime or an orange, sitting on a Styrofoam tray wrapped in 17 layers of plastic wrap. It can be hard in some stores, but choosing fresh produce and putting it in your reusable mesh bag will go far in reducing your waste footprint. Sometimes these choices mean an extra step for you- i.e. washing your spinach instead of buying it pre-cleaned in the plastic bins, or chopping up big carrots instead of buying baby carrots in a bag. These little actions have a big impact, however, and it’s also a good incentive to cut out over-packaged processed foods and eat a little healthier!
And at the end of day reducing your waste is about process, not perfection. Choose ingredients that come in metal or glass containers, because these can be recycled many, many more times than plastic (and in the case of glass jars can even be reused for bulk containers!).
3) Bulk up
Most bulk stores (including Bulk Barn!!!) allow you to bring your own (clean) bags, containers, and jars for your bulk goodies! This is a great way to get all your staples, from pasta and dried beans, to honey and tea, to spices and soup mix without the wasteful packaging they usually come in at conventional grocery stores.
And the waste reduction doesn’t have to stop at the store, there are lots of ways to cut down on your kitchen waste once you get home too!
4) Learn how to store your produce without plastic
If you aren’t putting your produce in bags at the store you’ll have to learn some techniques for keeping it crisp once you get it home. This post from My Plastic Free Life breaks down exactly how to store every conceivable fruit and vegetable for freshness sans plastic waste.
And as was mentioned in our last post, Tupperware, glass jars, or reusable beeswax wrap are great alternatives to plastic wrap or bags for your leftovers! Although a little on the pricier side, reusable silicone bags like these are also a great alternative, and can easily replace every conceivable use for my personal zero-waste kryptonite- freezer bags.
5) Replace your paper
Though paper towel is compostable in Guelph, it’s still unnecessary. You can save yourself some money and reduce the waste incurred in the production process by swapping it our for towels and rags. Good quality tea towels and microfiber clothes are neither expansive nor hard to come by, but if you want to be even greener just try cutting up some old t-shirts or towels to make the perfect rags for kitchen mishaps.
The same theory goes for reusable fabric napkins! These are surprisingly easy to find at garage sales, clearance bins of home goods stores, and are even a pretty easy DIY. Just keep a laundry bin at hand and wash them when they pile up!
6) And last but not least, COMPOST!
Most landfills are too tightly compacted for biodegradable waste like kitchen scraps to break down. These carrots, for example, were sitting in a landfill for 10 YEARS
Use your city of Guelph compost bin (sorting guide here), or see this page for tips on how to start composting at home. In residence? Drop Natalie a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see if we can get you set up with your very own bin!
Thanks for following along with this series Gryphons! Remember to comment on this post or on any of our social media shares to get entered in our giveaway! We’ve already gotten so many great tips! Here are some of our favorite ways that our readers are being sustainable
paigey.oneill I am using a reusable mug with the B-Corp Cupanion! This way I can keep track of how much waste I am saving while still enjoying my morning ☕️!
maddychauvin I use reusable mesh bags for my produce at the grocery store, and always bring my own bags for everything else! 😊 love this idea by the way!!
baileyelan I use reusable dryer balls rather than dryer sheets and use mason jars for everything!
shaelynnsmit I’ve been using the diva cup for 4 years and it’s been great not having to buy tampons and it creates zero waste!!! Mother Earth would be proud 🌲
on.my.way.to.0.waste I’ve been buying my dry foods in bulk and package free by bringing my own jars and reusable bags when I go shopping!
kaelykraeft bringing mason jars for bulk food, asking for no straw and bringing my own bottles for water!
claireehlert I bring a reusable mug/bottle whenever I go out so I don’t have to get a single use cup from a cafe if I’m in a rush!
tennyjrinhI always bring a mug/water bottle with me, and use reusable bags when I go grocery shopping! I’ve stopped taking the flimsy plastic bags to put my produce in at the grocery store as well 😊🌎❤️
tennyjrinhI also am making an effort to just buy second hand/vintage clothing so I am not contributing to clothing waste 👍🏼
loco_pacha_mammaI use a bamboo toothbrush and homemade toothpaste in a glass jar to brush my teeth 👍🏻😁
glenysrobinsonnn I make my own deodorant from coconut oil, shea butter, baking soda and essential oils and keep it in a mason jar! I use handkerchiefs instead of Kleenex and just toss them in the laundry. I always have reusable cutlery and straws in my backpack, so I never have to worry about forgetting! 🥄🍃
glenysrobinsonnn Oh! In the summer I make homemade popsicles instead of buying individually wrapped ones! So fun! 🍭💫
zerowasteguelph I use a charcoal stick in a big vintage glass water jug in the fridge to filter my water, no more plastic from Brita filters and certainly no plastic water bottles! 💦💦💦
I consider myself to be pretty environmentally conscious- I lug my mug, I shop and eat local, I use re-useable containers in my lunch (and, well, I work in the sustainability office, so…)
My roommates live pretty much along the same lines, and still, week after week, we manage to fill up our garbage can with unrecyclable plastics and packaging. This year I want to take a deeper look at where all this garbage is coming from, and find new ways to get a little closer to a zero-waste lifestyle. Through a series of four blog posts I want to share some budget-friendly, student-friendly tips to reduce waste (particularly plastic) in our lunches, kitchens, bathrooms, closets, and lifestyles in general.
So with no further ado, here are some ways I’ve been trying to take the trash out of my lunch, thanks for following along!
1) Meal Preppin’
Even if I go into the week with the best of intentions, busy evenings and 8:30 classes catch up quick and I find myself grabbing food to go on campus. The I Am Reusable program, available at most hospitality outlets on campus, is a great option. For just an initial, one-time $5 investment, you can get a reusable takeout container for your food. Then, when you bring it back (they wash it for you), you get a card that you just have to exchange for a new container the next time you get takeout food!
Even so, breakfast sandwiches to go are a bad habit of mine, and the wax paper they’re served in cannot be composted or recycled. The best way I’ve found to avoid this all together is to plan ahead. I take a little time on my weekend when I go grocery shopping and plan out my meals for the week. To-go breakfasts like overnight oats and make-ahead breakfast sandwiches are easy to whip up on Sunday night, and are saving me both money and trash on my morning Tim’s run.
As an added bonus, planning out what I’m going to eat each week instead of shopping randomly helps me avoid wasting food. Because everything I buy is part of a recipe, nothing is sitting in my fridge going bad. A good beginners guide to meal prepping can be found here.
2) The Zero-Waste Lunch Kit
And there are so many great options for carrying all that great food around! Investing in a large Tupperware with sections for snacks was one of my best decisions this year, but there are so many affordable options using things you might already have too. Jam jars make great snack containers, and there are so many alternatives to ways that plastic sneaks into our lunches- fabric and silicone pouches instead of Ziploc bags, thermoses and Tupperware containers, mason jars for salads. Many plastic, and even stainless and glass, containers are available at thrift and second-hand stores.
One of my favorite things I’ve discovered recently is this great alternative to plastic wrap. See here to learn how to DIY it!
3) Be prepared while on the go
So far, by being prepared, I’ve been able to cut out a lot of avoidable plastic waste from my lunches! Having a medium plastic container, a metal fork and spoon, a reusable straw, a cloth napkin, and my favorite coffee mug in the bottom of my bag takes up very little room, and ensures that whether I’m grabbing a smoothie or packing up leftovers from a lunch meeting at Brass Taps I can ditch the single-use packaging
We hope these tips are helpful! If you have any creative ways to take the trash out of your on-the-go lifestyle let us know in the comments! The week after next I’ll be back with my tips for a zero-waste kitchen!
Ever wondered how you can get involved with the Sustainability Office? Now’s your chance to check out our programs and learn how you can be a part of them!
To all new students, welcome to the University of Guelph!! For returning students, welcome back!! To get you starting off the new school year right, we’ve compiled a list of some great ways to be a sustainable student at UofG! The great thing is that it is super easy to be environmentally friendly at UofG because of all the amazing initiatives that we have going on. Be sure to let us know on social media which tips you try or let us know some tips that you use yourself that we might have missed!
Are you a vegetarian/vegan student at the University of Guelph? Struggling to find good food options? Look no further, I will tell you the endless amounts of delicious foods you can find on campus. You will leave a happy little full camper 😉
The University Centre
The UC Food Court
- Nature’s Best: A fully vegetarian/vegan eatery, with meal choices changing daily
- Salad/Soup Bar: Check daily for different salad choices. The vegetarian/vegan options will be labeled. Varies from potato salad, tofu noodles, hummus, fresh veggies etc.
- Breakfast and Cereal Bar: No time to eat breakfast? In the morning, the bar turns into a breakfast spot with cereal, granola, soy milk, fruit, yogurt and cheese.
- Pastabilities: Your choice of pasta, with fresh veggies, sauce, and add tofu.
- New Asian Fusion: Many ethical dishes inspired by the chefs themselves. From samosas to curries.
- Pastries: Most pastries should be vegetarian. There are vegan pastries right in the fridges by the cash register, brand is Sweet To Earth.
- Booster Juice: Loads of smoothies that are vegetarian. Easily make any smoothie vegan by substituting out the yogurt/whey protein with soy milk or soy protein.
- Everything vegan/vegetarian on the menu will be marked. This includes Vegan Nachos, to tofu wraps etc.
- Offers a vegetarian/vegan hot dog.
Lennox Addington Pit
- Omelette/Pasta Bar: Offers vegetarian omelettes, and easy to make pasta vegan (offer tofu)
- Needa Pita: Hummus wrap, falafel or grilled vegetable are all vegan
- Hot Grill: Offer grill cheese sandwhiches
- Nature’s Best: See UC FoodCourt for details
- Mongolian Grill: Choose from an assortment of veggies, noodles and protein source (tofu available) and watch your food being freshly grilled right in front of you.
- 100 Mile Grille: Perfect place to go with a non #meatless friend. Fresh Local Foods made into delicious meals. Including; sweet potatoe fries, bean burger, french toast etc.
Mountain Snacks/Windows Cafe
- Homemade crepes, smoothies, waffles
- vegetarian dinner and lunch options available
- Mongolian Grill: See Above for details.
- Salad Bar
- Make your own Sundae Bar
Offers many cafes but not the best place to find vegetarian/vegan meals, only snacks.
Roaming (Food Truck Nation)
- Get your fair trade coffee here
- Sometimes offer vegan pastries, so be sure to check their instagram posts daily.
- Offer a vegan hotdog and burger
- Get Fries too because life is too short my friends
Fresh Organic Vegetables and Herbs
University of Guelph Organic Farm
- Buy organic produce grown right here on campus! Below you will see a map of where it is located on campus. (Big orange Star)
Be sure to explore the campus and see what other options the school might offer! The options are endless.
Also don’t forget about the off-campus dining where there are loads of places you can eat at.
Enjoy all the deliciousness !
The Ladies of Sustainability ❤
Welcome #NewGryphons! We hope you are as excited to be here as we are to have you here! O-week is a busy time with so many amazing events to attend, so to make your life easier we compiled a list of sustainable events happening this week. These events are low-impact, sustainability themed, run by a club focused on sustainability, or ALL the above!
Does your friendly neighbour keep giving you zucchini no matter how hard you try to protest? Do you keep buying zucchini at the farmers market even though you already have four in the fridge?? Did you accidentally grow the biggest zucchini ever??? If you answered yes to even one of those questions, it’s time to make Vegan Zucchini Bread for #MeatlessMonday!!