Next up in the Sustainability Series is Amanda! My husband, Ty, and Amanda went to the University of Colorado together. Amanda is an animal activist, vegan, and zero waste advocate. She is originally from Oregon, and after college lived in Los Angeles but currently lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with her two sweet pups.
Read below for Amanda’s answers to the questions I asked her!
1) What ways you have reduced waste in your home? (This can be plastic waste, clothing, or even food)
After seeing one too many videos of plastic straws being pulled out of the noses of turtles, I decided to make a shift towards zero (but what would actually become ‘low’) waste. I started by replacing plastic produce bags with cloth, to-go cutlery and boxes with stainless steel chopsticks and a metal tiffin, and single use coffee cups with my KeepCup. I phased out my plastic toiletries and cleaning products, and refilled everything at my local refill (The Soap Dispensary in Vancouver, BC). I also vowed to buy 90% of my clothing second hand, which I have kept up thanks to the very cute and trendy consignment shops in Van.
2) Have you tried to reduce your fossil-fuels use? If so, how? What challenges have you discovered in this effort?
I sold my car September 2019 (not because I was reducing fossil-fuels unfortunately), and got around using transit and a bike. This didn’t fare well in the winter, so I ended up buying a Prius a few months later. I love my Prius, I hardly have to fill up as I take the bus to and from work. I use it mainly for big grocery trips and taking the dogs for hikes. Thankfully in Vancouver transit is very reliable, so I don’t face a lot of issues taking the bus for work other than occasionally being a few minutes late.
3) Have you changed something about your consumption in an attempt to save money and discovered it was actually a benefit for the environment as well? (for example, DIY-ing a product you would have previously purchased).
Most of my DIY-ing is a result of attempting to limit my consumption. Some of my favourite hacks have been using dried flowers and cloth as decor, making dog treats, granola, and mylk, and making toiletries like bug spray and hand sanitizer for traveling.
4) What are your favorite reusable items?
1. KeepCup – it is so great to bring around and for a coffee snob like myself, I love it because it doesn’t compromise the latte foam or texture!
2. Reusable zip-up snack bags – use these daily for work snacks
3. Bubble Tea cup with lid and straw (a must for Vancouver!)
5) What is the biggest impact you see yourself making on the environment through your lifestyle?
For a very long time the most important thing to me was that my lifestyle choices limited suffering. In the beginning this meant refusing meat, and later it meant refusing all animal products. Today, it means making lifestyle choices that affect people and the environment too – Is my chocolate bar made of cocoa beans that were the product of child slave labor? Is my single use chapstick container going to end up in the belly of a whale? I think the biggest impact I have is preventing mountains of waste ending up in landfills, the ocean, and eventually into other living beings. Another really powerful phenomenon that I see is the ripple effect. When I decided to live low-waste, a couple of my friends were inspired to try it too. After that, a handful of their friends decided to try it as well. I love how the actions of one person can inspire others, and I am grateful to the person who inspired me!
6) What about where you live makes it easier or harder to live a sustainable or eco-friendly life? What would you change if you could?
One of the reasons I love Vancouver is that is it so easy to live low-waste. Composting is free and transit is reliable. I have access to three refill stores, and can get literally everything I need: toothpaste, floss, pasta, tofu, salsa, butter, shampoo, hairspray, you name it. I also have two consignment stores that I love shopping at, and have been able to sell things I no longer wear. I understand that a lot of places are not like this, and I consider myself very lucky and privileged to have access like this.
Recently I traveled to the Philippines, and was very worried about living low-waste while I traveled (although one thing I learned through transitioning to low-waste is not to demand perfection or beat myself up for “plastic fails”). I was really surprised at how easy it was, although in retrospect I shouldn’t have been. What I saw firsthand visiting a developing country (my dad is from the Philippines, which is what prompted my visit) is that it is less privileged, poorer communities and countries that feel the brunt of pollution, plastic consumption, and climate change. Every place I visited during my two week stay had reusable straws and paper bags. And this isn’t because it’s trendy, it was about survival. Filipinos realized that the plastic that ends up in the ocean, ends up in them, so they had to start phasing out single use plastics. I think in Western culture we are too far removed from this concept. We don’t see where our trash goes, because it is purposefully taken far away. It is this privilege that allows us the ability to choose convenience over sustainability. Living low-waste has taught me to make time for the little things. Convenience has a way of rushing us through our days, and when I opt to have my latte and vegan cookie to stay, I get to take some of that time back for myself. I get to be mindful during my grocery trips, DYI with friends, and make delicious homemade meals with my partner.
Thank you, Amanda!