In 2022, Grow a WasteLess Mindset

In North America, consumption has become a lifestyle and while our society has become accustomed to cheap goods, we sometimes forget that each product we buy has a massive hidden cost that isn’t reflected on its price tag.

When buying a product, we need to take its entire existence into account:

Each product has to be produced from something.

That something could be a metal that needs to be extracted from the earth, a plastic that is produced from crude oil, a tree that had to be killed, or any other material or organism that we deem valuable as a building block.

Let’s clear out one definition real quick: What we often call “natural resources” are materials that were formed over millions of years through various environmental processes or organisms that lived for thousands of years. Whether we like it or not, they already serve a purpose on this planet and while their purpose is often complex and hard to summarize, what is easy to understand is that interference from us on their existence has dire consequences. Cutting down trees, for example, impacts the ecosystem it was part of and clear-cutting an entire forest can lead to soil erosion and thus landslides, to name just one example.

Each product travels the world many times.

A product is not made in one facility in one country and then shipped directly to your doorstep. If we consider each piece a product is made of, we can see how the environmental impact of their production really adds up.

A car, for example, consists of over 1,000 parts, from the metal that shape its form to the screws and glue that holds things together. The more parts you add, the higher the environmental impact. Each single component consists of a “raw material” that has to be extracted from somewhere, then transported to a facility where it is processed in a certain way, another facility where it is dyed in a certain colour, then shipped to another facility where it is integrated in the production of another component, and after many rounds like this, you have the final components that the product is made of. And don’t forget even the materials that the production machinery is made of or oiled with or repaired with. The final components are then usually shipped to a final production facility, where the individual parts are assembled. But that, too, doesn’t happen in front of your door, or even in the country where you reside.

From the production facility that assembles it, the item then continues to travel to various distribution centers around the world, burning fossil fuels for each kilometer it travels, until it reaches the store you buy it from or the online warehouse where it is stored until you click the “buy” icon.

Its final journey also counts.

Whether you buy the item online or in the store, it doesn’t just magically appear in your home. Either you drive it home or a delivery service drives to your place to deliver it. These kilometers count towards its transportation cost also. You own an EV? Good for you, but that doesn’t change the impact as much as you may like. The electricity that charges your EV needs to come from somewhere also. No energy source is without its own environmental impact, not even the “clean” ones, because the solar panels, dams, and wind turbines are made of “stuff” that was derived and transported, in a similar way.

When an item dies, our planet dies a little bit, too.

Whether the item breaks because of planned obsolescence, an accident, or old age, what do you do with an item that no longer works? If the answer is that you upcycle it, then the planet’s death is a little bit delayed, but ultimately every item that is no longer usable has to be disposed of somehow and somewhere. No recycling promise in the world can lift that weight off your conscience. In Canada only 9% of what you “recycle” actually gets a second life. If the item is made of plastic, it gets 2 more lives at most, but a plastic bottle isn’t turned into a plastic bottle, it is turned into something of lesser value. Aluminium can be recycled indefinitely, but that doesn’t mean that this happens. “Recyclable” never means that the item is actually “being recycled.” So, please remember this.

But even in the best-case scenario where the item is being recycled, this requires massive amounts of energy and as we’ve just discussed, energy has a massive environmental impact, no matter how it is being derived.

In the worst case scenario, the item is being burnt or dumped. This impacts ecosystems and wildlife across the world in many forms, because this burning and dumping doesn’t necessarily happen on our soil, which means that this adds another layer of transportation to the equation. Toxic waste is often a by-product of discarding materials, which adds another strain to the environment, sometimes for generations to come.

The Jobs Excuse

Whenever we talk about reducing consumption, it escalates into an argument of “less consumption equals less sales equals less jobs.” So, let’s clear this one up while we’re at it.

If jobs were the ultimate goal of a company (not profits), they wouldn’t outsource the labour to poor countries. And if you the little voice now argues that it gives jobs abroad, you may be heart-broken to hear that the production facilities of our corporations often destroy local economies in those countries entirely. So, jobs aren’t a factor.

What’s more: Our capitalist system was designed to finance unlimited growth through debt. This debt is eating our working class alive as we speak. And it isn’t large corporations that employ the most people in our developed world either. In fact, the small businesses that are being crushed by large corporations are currently employing 70% of the private working force in Canada, so when they fold up, so will our jobs. 

So in summary:

Buy only what you need, shop local, shop small.

The Solution: Join our WasteLess Society

Wasting Less leads to a happier planet, happier planet, and a happier wallet.

Wasting Less Saves Money

Sure, sometimes you really need an item. What we’re referring to when we talk about monetary savings are those wants and conveniences and impulse buys. Those you can usually wean yourself off of and save a lot of money in the long run.

Join Your Local Buy Nothing Group

If you’ve never heard of buy nothing groups, today is your lucky day! Chances are that whatever you need or want may be available from someone who no longer needs or wants theirs. Hence, you may even be able to get the item for free! This solves someone else’s problem and yours at the same time. Magic! 

Think Before You Buy

Before you add an item to your cart at the store, examine it carefully.

  • What is it made with?
  • Where was it produced?
  • How is it packaged?

Before you click that “buy” button online, ask yourself:

  • Do I really need it?
  • What will I do with it?
  • How will it get here?
  • What packaging will come in?
  • What uses do I have for this item AND its packaging?

It’s our mission is to help Canadians
waste less
by learning to truly reduce consumption and breaking free from wasteful habits!

Get Involved

Let's Connect

Phone: +1 (604)-500-8376

WasteLess Society
c/o Connie Reichelsdorfer
PO Box 55028
Southgate Mall PO
Nanaimo, BC V9R 6L0

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Created with in Nanaimo, BC.