Taking Waste Reduction Initiatives for Granted
Isn’t it exciting when we discover a new business or organization that is working to reduce waste? Whether it’s a local refillery business, a community-run toy library or a big corporation creating products from reclaimed materials, they’re all working towards a circular economy and it’s something to celebrate.
To find out which businesses and organizations to support, search the Waste Reduction Hub for your community, leaving the materials box blank. You will see all the recycling, reuse, repair and compost initiatives that we’ve identified so far. (If you notice something’s missing let us know so we can add it!)
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to celebrate that these initiatives exist; they also need to be financially supported. The first few years are crucial for new businesses, support them as much as you can! Even if they’ve been around for a while, small businesses and non-profits are often struggling and could use your support.
For example, Steep Hill Co-op in Saskatoon has been around for 45 years. They almost closed their doors this year due to financial struggles. This was a wake-up call for me because I shop there occasionally, but not as regularly as I could.
We also need to support businesses that are adopting more sustainable practices, even if we think they could be doing more. Read more about celebrating small wins here. If your local grocery store starts selling a few items in bulk and allowing you to bring your own container, celebrate that, and buy those bulk ingredients. But also shop there for other things you typically buy elsewhere. Even if those extra items you're purchasing aren’t low waste, you’re supporting a business that’s trying to reduce waste and will likely make more changes in the future.
A specific example of this is the sustainable makeup brand Cheekbone Beauty. They have a few low waste products, as well as some products with 'regular' packaging. In March 2023, they added refillable lipstick and lip gloss to their shop. The R & D required to make this possible came from their profits, so it's worth shopping at companies who are working on reducing waste but aren't completely there yet.
Not everyone can afford certain low-waste alternatives or financially support waste reduction initiatives. If that's the case for you, you can still show your support by:
- Spreading the word! Bring them up in relevant conversations.
- Posting about them on social media
- Engaging with their content on social media (which will help their posts be shown more frequently to other people)
- Encouraging your friends and family to financially support them
- Asking for items from their stores or donations in your name for birthdays or holiday gifts.
Some organizations may also need volunteers; find out if you can donate your time.
For those that can afford to support smaller businesses that have low waste alternatives, it’s important to support these businesses now. Your financial support can help bring prices down for everyone with economies of scale. If these products become more popular, some will be easier to make. When businesses grow, they can access larger quantities and innovate better technologies that could lower the price of their products.
Other ways to support sustainable initiatives is to look at where your investments and pension are. I in no way can offer investment advice, but I recommend being knowledgeable about where your money currently is. Look into ethical and sustainable investment options and see if you can better align your investments with your values. It feels nearly impossible to have them aligned perfectly, so don’t worry about that, focus on asking questions and starting that conversation.
So here’s your reminder that we shouldn't take low-waste busineses or organizations for granted. We need to support them or we might lose them.