Tips to help you lower your consumption

REusable cloth bag with vegetables

We can all work towards lowering our consumption, including reducing plastic in our lives. (Photo: Markus Spiske via Unsplash)

Wherever you are on your green living journey, you’re part of this community.

We asked for your ideas on how to lower your consumption, including reducing plastic in your lives. We wanted to know what you’re doing for yourself and the ecosystems that sustain you.

Find inspiration in these ideas people sent to help themselves, their communities and nature.

Tips from the community

Thank you to the scores of community members who responded to our call out.

Get inspired to lower your consumption with some of their tips.

Person using sewing machine
  • “I joined a ‘buy nothing’ group in my community on Facebook. We are all happily giving each other stuff we do not use anymore and getting to know our neighbours in the process.”
  • “I put garbage in the bags I cannot recycle … I only buy from butchers who will wrap meat in butcher’s paper (that’s not many, and it reduces my meat consumption) … I cut open my packages of moisturizer, etc. and use all of it, getting at least 20 per cent more of my purchases. I use ingestible aloe vera gel as toothpaste and my dental hygienist loves it and so do my sensitive teeth!”
  • “Look for stores that are zero waste or trying to get there. No plastic bags, no straws, no plastic cutlery, no Styrofoam and [they] sell products that are eco‐friendly. Example: there is a new zero‐waste coffee shop in Toronto [where] you bring your own cup. Their milk is delivered to the store in glass bottles and their coffee is delivered in bins that are reusable.”
  • “I only shop for things I really NEED. I want to take sewing lessons and have already learned to repair clothing in some ways — next is replacing a broken zipper — and this saves me a lot of money instead of buying new clothes, I can keep my favourite items longer! … I buy my personal care products from an ‘all natural’ source that makes their own.”
  • “Avoid impulse buying. Avoid buying things just because they are on sale. Kick the fast food habit.”
Food and products in cloth bag
  • “Paper or cloth bags instead of plastic. Recycle, repurpose old clothes. Buy second‐hand. Share excess things with friends and neighbours.”
  • Buy gifts that keep giving, i.e., local grocery basket, natural products.”
  • “Precycle — buy items that I know I can recycle.”
  • “Shop at second‐hand stores. My entire wardrobe, including most shoes, comes from Goodwill.”
  • “Buy quality, not quantity.”
Home cleaners in reusable containers
  • “I started making my own soap in order to reduce packaging, especially plastic bottles of body wash.”
  • “Trying to find a store where cheese is wrapped in paper, rather than plastic.”
  • “Buy less food in plastic containers.”
  • “I am ready to demonstrate at my local Safeway to demand more plastic‐free items. We must stop plastics. I was a child when there was little or no use of plastics. I tell my grandchildren about that time.”
  • “Using our local refill station to replenish cleaning products such as dishwashing soap, laundry detergent etc. and avoid plastic pollution.”
Dehydrated fruit in mason jars
  • “1. For about a year now I have been going into the grocery store and buying nothing wrapped in plastic. Try it — it is a fun adventure. I was surprised by how much I like cabbage and rutabagas. 2. I use locally made bar soap to wash my hair and 50 ml of cider vinegar diluted with 400 ml of water and add a few drops of essential oils like orange or lavender for fragrance. No more plastic bottles in my shower. 3. I buy products like dish soap and toothpaste tabs at the Nickel Refillery in Sudbury. Check if your town has a plastic‐free shopping place.”
  • “I’ve started keeping all of my glass jars (with lids). I use them for bulk buying, storing in the fridge (instead of plastic containers). I love that the glass allows me to clearly see the contents. If I have too many I offer them to the bulk store … they are always happy to take them. When they eventually break, they can go to the recycle bin.”
  • “I will keep pushing various manufacturers to reduce the packaging they use. If they don’t, I won’t buy the product.”
  • “I have been posting all my broken electronics and such online for free for people to fix or use as parts. I never throw them in the garbage. I have people take all the broken products I posted such as an old vacuum, old carpet cleaner, old cords for my computer. I sold my broken computer and cell phones.”
  • “Be more mindful of one‐use products and integrate sustainable products instead.”
  • “I have been re-using milk bags since I moved to Ontario 35 years ago. I don’t know why more people don’t do this. They are incredible for lunch boxes, freezer food, fridge i.e., 1/2 piece of fruit/pepper in fridge, travel bags for makeup (no spilling out) etc. … I am eliminating gum and gum packages this year.”
  • “We use bidets and thus very little paper goes into our septic system. They are hygienic and we have one that we remove from the toilet at home and take when renting accommodation in Florida!”