Life habits that help the environment

Iva Apostolova takes care to recycle thoughtfully and compost food waste whenever possible. Photo: Iva Apostolova

Kudos to Iva Apostolova from the GCA Zero Waste Committee

By Katie Fice

Iva Apostolova believes that efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle need to start young.

“We humans are creatures of habit, like most other species on this planet, so I would say the only way to make a real difference is to develop good habits based on best practices early on in life.”

Apostolova, a resident of the Glebe and associate professor of philosophy at the Dominican University College, says her motivation to reduce waste comes mainly from “the hard data and the moral obligation it triggers.”

Those factors have led Iva to change her shopping habits. She only buys cosmetic brands that do not test on animals and are not harmful to the environment. She buys as many products as possible in refills from stores like Nu Grocery and All Eco. “I try very hard to only buy things I believe I will use,” she says. “This goes for clothing, too.” This may be one of the best things each of us can do to help the environment.

While Iva acknowledges that industrial corporations are huge polluters, she believes it comes down to individual efforts to stop consuming as much as we currently do. For her, recycling has been an important focus since moving to North America from Europe where she found that options to reuse and recycle products were limited. Using the city program in Ottawa, she takes great care in using her blue and black bins appropriately. On top of that, she has found designated locations to recycle electronics, batteries and other specialized waste. Kitchen and other household items that she no longer needs are donated to the Salvation Army and she takes clothing to Diabetes Society drop-bins or sells it on consignment if it is in particularly good shape. Also, not a scrap of food waste goes into the garbage as she religiously composts so it can be used for other purposes.

Iva appreciates that her generation was born and raised with awareness of the need to care for the environment, but she believes that the current capitalist reality has led to habits of wanton use and discard of products resulting in the mass over-production of goods. Therefore, she is a proponent of governments strongly imposing and enforcing a “reuse, reduce and recycle” policy. While it may seem harsh, it may be the only way to make a shift in our consumption habits. Left to our own devices, many people find it hard to make the leap needed to make a real difference and that is where waste-reduction policies can help. She mentions that similar firm-handed policies should also be applied to industry as they are the big polluters and should be included in the efforts to help reduce the rapid degradation of our planet.

Iva stresses that developing and passing on good habits and best practices for reducing waste, reusing and recycling are crucial because “enthusiasm, while necessary and wonderful, is an emotional reaction to a moral outrage, which unfortunately, is sporadic and not sustainable in the long run.”

If you’ve been making efforts to reduce your waste, the Glebe Community Association’s Zero Waste Committee may feature you in a future column. Please send a short paragraph explaining how you are reducing your household or business waste to, attention Katie.

Katie Fice joined the Glebe Community Association’s Zero Waste Committee (a subcommittee of the Environment Committee) to learn about waste reduction and raise awareness of simple changes in our daily living that have a positive impact on the environment.

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