The Province

Upside to the pandemic

Lockdown has given us time to rethink our impact on planet

- RITA DeMONTIS @ritademont­is

If the COVID-19 virus has done one good thing during these tense pandemic times, it's given everyone an opportunit­y to pause and reflect on their current lifestyles.

Once, not so long ago, we didn't think twice about getting into our cars, making reservatio­ns, going to concerts or the movies, having our hair done, working out at a gym, going to the doctor, shopping to our heart's content. But, since Covid-19 came into our lives, just about every aspect of our regular routines has been turned inside out.

And, surprising­ly, we seem to be coping. We're adjusting to a strict new normal that, true, borders on an episode of The Twilight Zone, but let us look at our new lifestyles through a different set of lenses.

And many Canadians are taking a long, hard look at how their actions have impacted on the world today.

For starters, we're thinking twice about throwing things out, like vegetables that may be limp, but can make a mean soup. Or sniffing that yogurt sitting in the fridge three days past its Best Before date. We're using our freezer better, and being mindful of how many groceries we need weekly.

Canadians are also reducing their waste, notes recent findings from the Vancouver-based National Zero Waste Council. "Since the introducti­on of public health measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 63% of Canadians are shopping less often, but are buying more food per trip than before, more households are adopting food-saving habits, freezing foods to extend shelf life, and getting creative with leftovers, states the website

“This new research confirms that 84% of Canadians believe that everyone has a responsibi­lity to prevent avoidable food waste in their households,” adds Malcolm

Brodie, chair of the National Zero Waste Council in a recent email.

Many companies are taking proper steps toward making waste reduction as part of their corporate mandate, and putting into place solid sustainabi­lity practices. Sobey's Inc., for example, is working with partners like Love Food Hate Waste (lovefoodha­ to find “innovative solutions,” to reach these goals. Other grocery chains, like Farm Boy, Metro, Loblaws and more, have similar mandates, and following new protocols.

And it's just not food. We're culling our wardrobe too, but, rather than filling our landfill with clothing, many Canadians are mindfully recycling them, either through small, safe-circle events or donating to shelters.

We're recycling within our own families, too, and handing down clothing from one child to the next, the surprise being “hand-me-downs” is a term that's been around for decades.

This is crucial given that the fashion industry as a whole produces about 10% of the globe's carbon emissions and is considered the second largest user of the world's water supply — not to mention polluting the oceans with microplast­ics.

This ocean pollution epidemic, for example, is another crisis we all need to deal with: According to the Internatio­nal Union for Conservati­on of Nature (IUCN) website ( there are “over 300 million tons of plastic produced every year for use in a wide variety of applicatio­ns, and at least 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year.”

Research shows this makes up 80% of all marine debris from surface waters to deepsea sediments. “Marine species

This new research confirms that 84% of Canadians believe that everyone has a responsibi­lity to prevent avoidable food waste in their households.

Malcolm Brodie, chair of the National Zero Waste Council

ingest or are entangled by plastic debris, which causes severe injuries and deaths — plastic pollution threatens food safety and quality, human health, coastal tourism, and contribute­s to climate change,” notes iucn. org.

There are fish swimming around today whose outer surface is totally coated with microplast­ics.

The IUCN says there's an urgent need to address this ocean disaster and “recycling and reuse of plastic products, and support for research and innovation to develop new products to replace single-use plastics are also necessary to prevent and reduce plastic pollution.” The messaging is powerful — and people are getting it. Take the Montreal-based vegan fashion brand, jeane & jax, (jeaneandja­ for example, who have recently created a high-end leather-like outerwear jacket — made entirely of repurposed car interiors.

“This zero-waste initiative is focused on timeless style and environmen­tal sustainabi­lity, showcasing how fashion and a respect for the planet can produce luxury items that would otherwise end up in landfills,” notes a company press release. And the jacket is gorgeous! And buzzwords like circular economy — where we're rethinking traditiona­l economy and reinventin­g it in order to save the planet — has become part of our popular lexicon.

Everywhere you look, steps are being taken — from food packaging to the demise of the supermarke­t plastic bag. Even portions of the packaging for many single-serve coffee pods and K-cups are now biodegrada­ble with a nod towards sustainabi­lity and the well-being of the environmen­t and landfill sites.

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, an organizati­on that develops and promotes the idea of a circular economy, concerned consumers are basically rethinking traditiona­l economy and reinventin­g it so that there's hope for the future.

And many companies are doing just that. Take, for example, the inspiring Habitat for Humanity's Habitat ReStore, ( restore), where you'll find an amazing mix of much needed items for your home — everything from new and used home furnishing­s, appliances, kitchen and bath fixtures and other renovation items that have been donated from various companies and are then sold back to consumers in need at discounted prices. Profits then go back into the system to help those in need.

It's the cycle that keeps on giving.

 ??  ??
 ?? JEANE & JAX ?? Silvia Gallo, founder of Montreal-based brand jeane & jax, wears her limited-edition jacket made from upcycled car interiors.
JEANE & JAX Silvia Gallo, founder of Montreal-based brand jeane & jax, wears her limited-edition jacket made from upcycled car interiors.
 ?? Getty Images ??
Getty Images
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada