Concordia Groups, the Dish Project Hold Zero Waste Week

Students Learn to Live a Waste-Free Life

The Dish Project organized Zero Waste Week in hopes that their workshops would inspire students to take part in a more sustainable lifestyle. Courtesy Maddy Capozzi

Canadians dispose of around 700 kilograms of waste per year. That’s over four pounds a day, every day. But the Zero Waste movement is on the move.

Even if the amount of trash that Canadians produce annually is on the rise (around three per cent over years past, according to Statistics Canada), there is a growing community of millennials managing to pack their yearly waste into a mason jar.

These zero waste warriors are taking over YouTube and Facebook with their tips and tricks on how to consume more responsibly and reduce the amount of plastic, packaging, and garbage affecting the planet’s ecosystem.

A zero waste lifestyle aims to send nothing (or as little as possible) to a landfill. By composting, reducing, reusing, and recycling, zero wasters shrink the size of their carbon footprint to live a minimal, sustainable and eco-friendly existence.

Vanessa Macri of The Dish Project, a program focused on reducing waste around Concordia University, said zero waste is taking off at the university as well.

“It’s definitely one of the more up and coming movements,” said Macri. “Especially in the sustainability communities here at Concordia. We hear of more and more people going zero waste.”

Doing their part to combat excessive waste, the Dish Project organized a Zero Waste Week to educate Concordia students on how they can shed those extra pounds of trash from Oct. 23 to 27, along with the Concordia Student Union, The Shed, Concordia University Centre for Creative Reuse, and Concordia’s Environment, Health and Safety department.

The week’s workshops ranged from Waste Justice 101 to how to make a plant hanger out of an old t-shirt. It was also organized during Quebec’s Waste Reduction week to target people who may not be as knowledgeable about the sustainability movement.

“What we say a lot is, ‘If you don’t think you’re going to use it for more than 24 hours then maybe you shouldn’t be using it now.”— Vanessa Macri

Macri does recognize that going absolutely zero waste seems daunting. But taking small steps to reduce your waste footprint like bringing a water bottle, coffee mug or even your own reusable plates and cutlery to school can make a difference.

“What we say a lot is, ‘If you don’t think you’re going to use it for more than 24 hours then maybe you shouldn’t be using it now,’” said Macri.

Maida Hadziosmanovic, a PhD student researching corporate accountability for climate change, says these events contribute to a ripple effect inspiring others to participate. Often people just need proof it’s possible to live a normal life with zero waste.

Though individuals should do their part, Hadziomanovic notes that in order for the greatest impact to be felt, governments and companies have to also make significant changes to their policies to confront issues of sustainability and climate change.

“Change has to come from all levels of society,” said Hadziomanovic. “Otherwise there is no change trickling up or down.”

Getting involved in activism and raising awareness in your community about initiatives to improve sustainability is crucial, said Hadziomanovic. University clubs, community groups, and neighbourhood associations are important catalysts for creating change.

The organizers of Zero Waste Week think their workshops were just that—inspiration to take part in a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle both on and off campus.

“We want to continue engaging with the community and help people to rethink the relationship they have with waste,” Macri said.

“We are hoping to shift the culture of consumption that a lot of us participate in and it was really encouraging to see all the students who were committed to this movement.”

For more information on how you can live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, visit the Dish Project website.