Frequently Asked Questions

What the heck is "______"?

Circular lifestyle: the term circular lifestyle echoes the the premise of zero-waste. It is based on the concept of a circular economy, defined by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation as "one that rebuilds capital (this can be natural, social or financial) through the continuous flow of technical and biological materials". Circular living, in the same way as zero-waste, is the philosophy of moving away from linear consumption, essentially buy -> consume -> dispose, and moving towards a lifestyle where output becomes input, minimizing waste as much as possible.

Tare or tare weight: the weight of an empty jar/container, including the lid or cover. The tare weight is needed when filling containers with food that is paid for by weight - the tare weight is removed from the final weight of the container + bulk food to ensure that you are not paying for the weight of the container.

PLU (Price Look-Up codes): these several digit codes, almost always provided for products available in bulk, can be found on the bulk containers, on a price sign for produce, or on a produce sticker. Generally, when filling containers with bulk foods you must note the PLU so that the cashier can charge you the appropriate price for what you buy.

Down-cycling: this occurs when the recycling process destroys the material being recycled and limits the number of times the recycling process can occur before the material needs to be sent to landfill. This often occurs with plastics that are recycled, which is why I tend to promote plastic-free options when possible!

Why should I care about the trash I produce?

There are several (important!) reasons why you should care! Eventually I will dedicate a post to this topic, however, for now:

  • "Land filled organic matter creates methane gas which is 25x more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide" (Toronto Food Policy Council)
  • "Microplastics are ingested by small and then bigger fish, the toxic chemicals they contain can work their way up the food chain and onto our plates" (5 Gyres)
  • The average Canadian produces 2.5 pounds of trash per day - and we a running out of places to put our trash: the City of Toronto shipped up to 140 truckloads of garbage per day to Michigan to be incinerated from 2003-2011 (Toronto Star, CBC News)

And that's just the beginning...

Are you vegan?

I live what I like to call a "kind" lifestyle and, for me, this means that I do my best not to eat any animals or animal products. Technically, I am not 100% vegan as I use some makeup products containing beeswax. However, the makeup products I chose to use are significantly more sustainably packaged than other vegan products, so I prefer to support more sustainable companies for now while encouraging the development of vegan makeup in sustainable or reusable packaging.

I also tend to not filter the produce I consume by whether or not it is vegan grown (non-animal fertilizer), as this is one thing too many for me to pay attention to. However, I do strongly support the development of less animal-dependent agriculture methods.

Finally, I do not buy any new products that I need that contain animal products. However, if I already own non-vegan clothing for example, I keep it if it is something I use heavily and love in order to avoid the utilization of more resources to create a new vegan product for me to buy. I have made some exceptions to this rule depending on cost, utilization, the company, etc on a case by case basis.

Essentially I do my best to balance zero-waste and vegan/kind approaches.

As mentioned on the Roots and Home pages, I strongly believe that every and any effort to live more sustainably should be encouraged. Living a more circular lifestyle is not about perfection, but about progress. It is not a prerequisite to be vegan in order to be zero-waste, and there are many zero-waste bloggers who consume animal products. As Trashless in Toronto is aiming to be an educational resource, I will do my best to incorporate all perspectives and lifestyles into this site.

However, I am a big believer in education and awareness. Putting the ethical debates aside, it is undeniable from an environmental point of view that animal agriculture is detrimental to the environment (FAO, CPHA, McMichael 2013 in the New England Journal of Medicine). I think it is important to evaluate whether it is possible to incorporate more plant-based eating into one's lifestyle (think Meatless Monday several times a week), but am respectful of the choices of others. Veganism is not the main focus of this blog.

Do you have to be a vegan to be zero-waste?