Good Choice Initiative

The Real 2020: 5 New Year's Resolutions
You Can Actually Keep

Welcome to 2020!

It’s a new decade, and with it comes a whole new set of resolutions – and expectations – to live better. In the past, I’ve set ambitious resolutions to meditate daily or to stop eating dairy in the hopes that I could be motivated to change my ways. Knowing myself, these expectations were in fact unrealistic and I was inevitably disappointed when I couldn’t stick to them. So, now I’m trying another approach – one where I set realistic goals considering my habits and I stick to them. I am committed to living by my values of minimizing my impact on the environment, supporting local businesses and doing my best to buy products from abroad that are sourced ethically and sustainably. As long as I live by my values, I can only win…right? Right 😉

For those of you who are making sustainability part of your New Year’s resolutions, I’ve come up with a list of 5 tips that you can easily implement into your daily habits (it may take some time – don’t give up!):

1. Bring your own reusable cup at coffee shops & reusable water bottle

Did you know? Close to two billion disposable coffee cups are used in Canada each year. The same amount of plastic water bottles is used each year, the equivalent to 5.3 million per day. Although Canada has set a single-use plastic ban starting in 2021, the sooner we reduce our plastic waste the better.

Carrying your own water bottle is great because most public places have a water fountain and/or washroom for you to fill up while on the go! Since I drink lots of water throughout the day, I always have my bottle handy.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember to carry a cup or bottle around with you. I get it. What helps me is carrying a backpack or medium-sized purse where I can also fit my wallet, keys, phone, book, earphones, my reusable straw (more on this below), Contigo water bottle and, of course, my Keep Cup (I don’t leave home without it, at least not intentionally). Basically, I pack a good part of my life into a bag so I am never short of anything. But you can just carry the essentials. Whatever works for you. Here are some of my favourite shops that’ll serve their drink in your takeaway mug:
Little Victories: 801 Bank St
Blue Bird: 261 Dalhousie St
Happy Goat (several locations)
Bridgehead (several locations)
Ministry of Coffee (several locations)
Morning Owl (several locations)
Planet Coffee: 24a York St

Some of the 3 most important things in my life: coffee, plants and water.

Many coffee shops will agree to serve you in your mug – you just have to ask! Stay tuned for our upcoming post on which coffee shops in the National Capital Region reward customers for bringing their own cup, by offering a discount on their purchase. Let me know if there are any you think I should include.
2. Go Strawless

Oftentimes when we order a drink from our waiter at a restaurant or bar, it automatically comes to us with a plastic straw, even if we didn’t want or need it. In fact, Canadians use close to 57 million straws per day, many of which end up in landfills and, eventually, in the ocean.

Next time you order, be sure to specify “no straw, please” to avoid unnecessary waste. Many plastics are not recyclable and end up in the trash when we’re done with them. Something we use for a few minutes will live on for centuries, at the expense of marine life.

If you really want or need to use a straw for your drink, I recommend getting a stainless steel or bamboo one. I’ve seen some at NU Grocery and Bulk Barn. The turtles will thank you – and so will I. If you’re concerned about how you’ll look – don’t fret. There is no one cooler than someone who cares for the environment. Trust me, I speak from experience. 😆

Enjoying the BEST coconut smoothie with my reusable straw and delicious soup with handmade noodles

3. Carry (a) reusable bag(s)
You’ve probably noticed how much plastic packaging our food comes in when you’re shopping at a grocery store. Did you know that only 11% of plastic waste in Canada is recycled? The rest gets sent to a landfill, to live until the end of time. All the plastic that has ever been produced still exists in some form today. Although some plastic packaging, such as boxes for berries or yogurt containers, are recyclable, it’s best to avoid it if at all possible.

That’s where the reusable bags come in. While some items such as apples, onions or potatoes may not require a bag, others such as grapes or fresh kale may be easier to carry with one. There are many options for reusable produce bags, which you can get at grocery stores such as Farm Boy or NU Grocery.

Since plastic bags are not recyclable in Ottawa, plastic-free alternatives are preferred. However, if you do have clean and dry plastic bags you are no longer using, you can bring them to any of the grocery stores participating in the Take it Back program.
4. Bring your own container…
…to the restaurant or grocery store, or wherever you’re buying food. After eating out, do you usually find yourself bringing home leftovers? Rather than getting them in styrofoam containers, which are not recycled by the city, bring your own container instead. I did the last time I went to the Vittoria Trattoria restaurant and the server looked a bit surprised when I asked, but went ahead anyway. Slowly but surely I’m converting everyone around me.

If you’re going to buy food such as meat, cheese or fish at a grocery store, you can ask staff to put it in your container. Unfortunately, not all stores accept this practice due to “health regulations”. To make it simpler for you, a great initiative called Ottawa Reduces has identified all shops that accept to serve customers in the container they bring.

I brought my own containers to a small chip stand called Ti Ray’s in Ste Cécile de Masham, Québec and they were happy to accommodate my request.

5. Go Strawless

If you’re like me, the cold winter months and lack of sunlight affect my mood. Being outdoors and getting some fresh air usually makes me feel better so I highly recommend going outside, even when all you want to do is be in your comfy PJs and eat chocolate, reminiscing about summer (or is that just me?).

Here are some examples of activities to do outdoors:
– Downhill Skiing/Snowboarding: Camp Fortune
– Skating: City of Ottawa (List of the city’s skating rinks and schedules
– Snowshoeing; Cross Country Skiing; Hiking : NCC – Winter Activities
– Go on and treat yourself by going to the Nordik Spa – North America’s largest outdoor spa nestled in the forest of the Gatineau Park in Chelsea, QC.

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean we have to hibernate for the rest of winter. By doing some of these outdoor activities, you can focus on being in the present while reconnecting with nature, and reflect on all your New Year’s resolution victories so far.

Hiking through Mer Bleue Bog

I hope you find that these tips on how to be more eco-friendly are helpful. I’d love to know which one(s) you’ve tried and which you’ve been able to stick to, allowing for some only-human transitional slip ups, of course!

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