#HaltonWasteChallenge Week 7

Hello Friends of Halton Green Screens! I’m now finishing up Week 7 of the #HaltonWasteChallenge. For the most part, my experiences have been positive. Sometimes people ask me why I’m doing something, like putting olive bar olives into my own Tupperware, or not replacing my library card that doesn’t scan very well. Occasionally I’ve been met with disinterest or weird looks but most people have been very supportive. The grocery store employee who saw me taking olives in my own container and said, “Don’t you want one of those ones?” was so impressed and excited about the challenge and kept thanking me over and over for trying to make a difference.


At the checkout of another grocery store, the cashiers noticed that I brought reused produce bags for my fruits and veggies and commended me for it. I told them why and they were very interested, and even took a card so they could learn about future Halton Green Screens events. The customer behind me in line told me about a friend who would love the challenge, and one of the cashiers said “You should give her a card too!” Interactions like these give me hope that this small thing I’m trying to do may be able to spread enough to help make a big difference, even if only locally. Combined with other local initiatives around the world I hope that our local Halton Challenge will become a part of a paradigm shift that helps move us away from our throwaway practices that favour convenience over sustainability.


Now for some of the challenges I’ve had with the appropriately named Halton Waste CHALLENGE. I don’t know why, but ever since I started in October, I’ve been breaking way more things than I normally do. Since I last wrote, I broke my only whisk and my favourite sunglasses. And I can’t replace either. The temptation was there to buy some secondhand, but I have to say, my backup sunglasses are really not that bad. And so far, my broken whisk has still been getting the job done, and for smaller jobs a fork does the trick.

My broken whisk and sunglasses

My broken whisk and sunglasses

One of my biggest challenges with the “no buying stuff” rule has been secondhand books. I am always drawn to them like a magnet when I come across a sale. Several times I’ve had to catch myself as I select an old book to purchase. I definitely need to steer clear of secondhand book stores.


Recently my family ordered takeout from a local Thai restaurant. We said on the phone that we were bringing our own containers to avoid waste, and promised to be there well before the 25 minutes they said it would take so that they would have the containers by the time the food was ready. We got there in 12 minutes, and our food was already packaged in plastic and Styrofoam, and enclosed in plastic bags. It was very disappointing. Most of the containers were, at least, recyclable, and will be reused by my parents, but I now have a big Styrofoam container taking up space in my little waste bin. I am hoping that one of my old neighbours from when I live in Toronto will be willing to add it to their recycling next time we are there.


I suppose my other big challenge is toothpaste. I ran out of my natural brand of toothpaste weeks ago, but I am so reluctant to try again to make my own (it tasted so bad last time) that I’ve started using a conventional brand that Neelan had in the house as a sample from a dentist or something. We still have some of the natural brand, but my husband got it after I started the challenge so it would be breaking the rules to use it. I will let you know how the toothpaste goes when I finally give in and make some.


Dishwasher and laundry detergent on the other hand, have been super easy! The dishwasher detergent has been working pretty well but leaving some dishes a little cloudy, but that is probably because I hadn’t yet found bulk citric acid to include in the recipe. My mom has since found some for me, so my next batch of dishes should come out sparkling clean!


I’ve heard a bit about a few people’s experiences with the challenge, but would love for people to start sharing with everyone by posting in the comments of this blog, by Tweeting using #HaltonWasteChallenge and @Green_Screens, and by posting on our Facebook page. For now, I will share a little success story of my husband’s. He has committed to always bringing a travel mug when he buys a coffee. This is something he’s been pretty good at already, but before starting the challenge he would sometimes still buy a coffee even if he didn’t have his mug with him. Last week, he went for a walk with his mug just to buy a coffee, and the server wouldn’t put the coffee in his travel mug. They said he had to get it in a disposable one. So Neelan left without getting a coffee. I was so proud 🙂


Tomorrow and Saturday are “Buy Nothing Day” – if you’ve been considering joining the #HaltonWasteChallenge but haven’t been sure how, consider avoiding the mayhem of Black Friday and participating in Buy Nothing Day instead. And tell us how it goes, with whatever you decide to do!


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  • Heather, I’ve been thinking of you and your challenge. Love reading up on your notes as you go along.

    When my husband and I go to the movie theatres we ask for tap water (not bottled). That is, of course, if we’ve forgotten our own reusuable water bottles at home. In terms of waste, asking for tap water is probably not a big difference as we still get a disposable cup… But I do have a bit of a story about how our culture shifting.

    When we first started asking for tap water years ago, the young person behind the counter would look dumbfounded and then searched for the extra small cups that they provide to people who do not want to pay $4 (or whatever it costs) for bottled water. BUT at our last trip to the movies, the two young people behind the counter seemed more than prepared to give us tap water in a big cup! The told us they had no idea why anyone would pay for bottled water. They even said that when they let customers who are ordering bottled water that they can get tap water for free, but that some customers still buy the bottled water. The staff were just shaking their heads. The next generation is getting the message.

    • Heather

      Thanks Kendra!

      That’s fantastic, good for you and your husband 🙂 It may not feel like a big difference but if enough of us are doing it it will add up. I think those paper cups are a step up from plastic bottles too, and choosing not to support the bottled water industry sends a powerful message.

      We have three movie nights in March about bottled water that may interest you:

      “Bottled Life: The Truth About Nestlé’s Business With Water” in Oakville (Film.ca Cinemas) on March 10
      “Divide in Concord” in Burlington (Central Library) on Tuesday March 22, as part of BurlingtonGreen’s Eco Film Festival
      “Divide in Concord” in Milton (Italian Canadian Club of Milton) on Tuesday March 22

      Hope to see you soon!

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