Going Zero Waste in Hamilton

#zerowaste #wastefree #plasticfree


Have you heard?  The old way of simple living is reamerging as a “new” zero waste movement.  

Have you ever taken a good look at your weekly waste and thought “good lord heaven above!  How in the world did little old me create such a pile of garbage?” 

It is astounding the amount of plastic in our world these days.  I am blown away every time I go shopping and see broccoli wrapped in plastic, I’m handed a non- recyclable disposable cup when I say, “for here” and at the plastic cutlery and napkins received when all I want is a bowl of soup. 

This wonderful zero waste movement is one of mindfulness, awareness and simplicity.  The old way of blindly accepting what is - is just no longer sustainable.

Instead of getting frustrated and baffled by the (in)action of others I decided it was time to make a big change in my own life.  And so my foray into a waste free lifestyle began.  This past year has been a journey of discovery.  I am happy to say living as waste free as possible is easier and way more fun than you may think, not to mention wildly chic. 

I love how Zuzanna from Lekko Life puts it, “While shifting to a zero waste lifestyle, I’ve found that my buying has become more intentional, I’ve been able to keep unnecessary clutter out of my life, and it’s been liberating on the wallet. Most of the alterations I’ve made to my day to day life have been easy and the results are just as good, if not better, than what I experienced previously. It makes the decision easy. The beautiful aesthetics of a zero waste lifestyle is a benefit that I enjoy, whether that’s a neat cupboard of jars in the kitchen or unpacking a picnic which was packed in nothing but glass containers and linen bags.”

Here are some tips on how you can start your own zero waste living,

*Have your own reusable items on you at all times.

Your zero-waste kit should include

-reusable collapsible coffee cup

-reusable water bottle

-cloth napkin

-light weight cloth veggie and bread bag

- Fabric tote (shopping) bag

-bamboo cutlery (lightweight)

-stainless steel or bamboo reusable straws


*Shop in Bulk stores!  Bulk shopping is my new favouitre.  Take your own jars, containers and revel in the different spices, grains, and delights you can fill them up with.  Your mind and eyes will open and you will see so many things you never saw before.  Trust me!

*Take you own bags to the store or market.  When shopping at the regular grocery store put your veggies into your own cute light weight fabric bag.  Be sure to avoid any fruit or veg wrapped in plastic or packaging.  Think out of the box and get meat, cheese and other unwrapped items in your own packaging at the deli counter.

*Avoid all packaged foods.  Doing this means you are on the road to a clean eating lifestyle too since mostly only processed foods come with wrapping.  In celebration of your path to waste free whole foods Picky Diet has given us some helpful tips on how to be waste free in the kitchen (see side bar) (check out her website www.pickydiet.com for delicious clean eating recipes.)

*if you buy packaged goods think about how you can reuse it. The plastic lining in your cereals can be saved for a sandwich and all-purpose wrap.  Milk bags can be cut at the top for high quality “zip lock” bags.  Plastic and glass containers should be saved as your Tupperware.

*Eat out or take out? Take your own containers!  Grab a cute container or repurpose one from a packaged item, keep one at your work and in your car, and get the restaurant to use it.  Not only are you helping the earth you are helping that small biz save money.

*Support businesses that aim to be zero waste regardless of the type of business it is.  Whether big or small companies make a huge impact on the environment.  I would simply call and ask how the try to reduce waste.  If it’s a store where everything is wrapped, boxed or bagged I simply take my money elsewhere.

Your Hamilton zero-waste shopping guide

Luckily in Hamilton we now have a slew of great places to shop to obtain our reusable products or get our daily needs waste free!  Here is your quintessential guide to reducing waste, feeling good and looking good while doing it.

Mrs. Greenways.  The only place I could find in Hamilton that has bulk shampoo, conditioner s and laundry soap.  For this I am thrilled!  Be sure to take your own reusable container!  Mrs. Greenways also has fabulous lunch boxes and other zero waste kitchen items. 


Dundurn Market.  Take your linen bento bag and grab some delicious home-made bread.  They also have a bulk section of grains and spices and herbs.  This is a super cute place offering local and organic produce, pantry and dairy goods. www.dundurnmarket.ca

Hamilton Farmers Market.  Many vendors will put their meat, cheese and veg in your own clean wrappers, be sure to let them know before you order.  At the floral stations be sure to tell them not to wrap the flowers up.

Bulk Barn: Bring your own clean containers.  They will pre-weigh them and you can fill up with a wide variety of dry goods, oils, peanut butter, pet food, soap making goods, coffee and tea and more.

The Nook Cafe: their goal is to be 100% waste free, serving delicious coffee and treats.  Receive money off when you bring in your own cup! @thenookhamilton 2 Bold St.


Simply Zen: Just as the name states Simply Zen is a store of eco products and Zen lifestyle products – many of which do not come with packaging.  They also have reusable straws, Bento boxes, Hot and cold beverage bottles, Market bags, reusable bags, Bamboo utensil sets, Food wraps and dental floss in glass bottles. 183 Ottawa St N

Pale Blue Dot: is your one-stop shop for sustainable living, providing you with safe, high-quality, ethically-sourced, earth-friendly alternatives to plastic and single-use products.  They have some unique sustainable housewares that are just gorgeous. www.thepalebluedot.com

Kabuki Spa:  Kabuki Spa is Hamilton’s original green certified spa and has several zero waste beauty supplies such as shampoo bars and biodegradable cleansing mitts.  They also sell Lekko life goods.  One of their mandates is to be as waste free as possible with every service.  www.kabukibeauty.ca

5 Tips to Reduce Waste in the Kitchen

1.       Grocery Shop with a Plan – when you take time to plan what you are going to eat and then make a list, you will only buy what you need.

2.       Use ALL of your veggies – cut up broccoli stems and roast them or use them in a stir fry, save veggie peels to make broth, use fruit that is getting soft in a baked good, sauté carrot tops, beet tops and stems from greens with a little olive oil and salt and pepper, they are delicious and full of amazing healthy nutrients.

3.       Creatively repurpose leftovers – store soups or stews in single serving glass containers so you are more likely to eat them, put leftover roasted veggies on top of your salad, use leftover salad in a wrap, or make a power bowl with any and all of the veggies in your fridge

4.       Use your freezer – peel and freeze bananas that are going brown, they are perfect for smoothies, chop us herbs you can’t use and put them in an ice cube tray with olive oil to use later for cooking, keep nuts and seeds in the freezer to keep them from going rancid. 

5.       Make your own salad dressing – instead of buying plastic containers of sugar and preservative laden salad dressing, simply make your own in a glass jar with a lid – olive oil, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and any herbs and spices you like. Its healthier for you and for the environment.

 “Zero waste living is extremely important to me as I truly care about the health of our environment, our animals and our future. As with everything in life, small changes equal big results! Steps that I personally have taken to reduce waste are to always bring a reusable water bottle or tea cup, use reusable glass containers and beeswax covers for food storage and compost in my kitchen.”  Kim from Picky Diet



Alexis Fletcher