It’s no secret that the Zero waste and Sustainable Living movement is starting to gain traction. There are countless articles and websites dedicated entirely to the subject. In a nutshell Zero waste is about producing less waste and using less harmful chemicals as ingredients which in turn not only cause damage to the environment but our health as well.
One place you will not find any mention of these topics is in sales & advertising. Marketing companies and large corporations are making too much money selling cleaning, food and household products that are wrapped in wasteful packaging and full of excess chemicals.
We as a society have grown so used to the convenience of these mass produced products that most people are skeptical that a greener (or even a home-made *gasp*) alternative would be capable of having the same effect as their “chemical” counterparts. What we tend to forget is that it wasn’t always this way. Products that we used to clean, for example, used to be simple…and natural. A lot of it can be made at home with ingredients that you already may have. It wasn’t until modern day science got involved and manufacturers started touting the benefits of added chemicals in fighting germs and harmful bacteria. The reality is that natural products are just as effective. We don’t need those chemicals! In fact, most of those chemicals are harmful to our health- they irritate the eyes and throat, aggravate asthma, cause headaches or even cancer.
Deception is the name of the game in most mass produced cleaning products and the food industry is no different. Food wasn’t always mass produced or manufactured in such a way to be more visually-appealing to the masses. Somewhere along the line chemicals started making their way into food so that it would look better and last longer.
For example, are you aware that Butter isn’t actually the deep, rich yellows that you see in the grocery stores? Butter is altered so that consumers find it more pleasing than the natural white-yellow of butter. And don’t even get me started on margarine!! You can read all about that here.
“Seeing the (sic. natural) color could affect how our brains perceive the taste. So if you have that association, it could make your enjoyment of the butter higher.”J. Kenji López-Alt, the managing culinary director of Serious Eats and the author of “The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science.”
Livestock are pumped full of harmful growth hormones so that the meat appears more colourful and plump. Fruits and vegetables are sprayed with pesticides and grown in chemical fertilizers. When we eat these harmful hormones and chemicals it can lead to serious health issues. It really does seem as if nothing is “natural” anymore despite the labels of “green, organic, healthy, natural and flavoured” to name just a few. It is up to us, the consumers, to educate ourselves and understand the false claims in the marketing behind the products.
Did you know when you finish your meals at a fast food restaurant and believe that you are doing good by the environment by dumping your paper products into the designated recycling bin that those containers can NOT actually be recycled because they have been contaminated by the grease and oils in the food? Alternatively, they can be composted but not a single restaurant that I know of offers that option. Therefore those items? Straight into the garbage they go.
If that wasn’t enough to worry us, plastics are another major issue as not all plastics are recyclable. Often times toilet paper sold in bulk is such an example- the individual rolls are wrapped in plastic and then the entire 24 pack is surrounded in plastic…all of which cannot be recycled so it too ends up in the garbage where it will sit for decade after decade as it does not break down.
Ok wow, it seems I started this post off with one idea and it organically morphed into another topic!
I had planned to write about products that are natural, better for us and the earth but this is a long enough post by now so, I will write another post shortly on all the small, independent companies that are making a difference. These businesses are making it their business to create products that are good for us AND the environment. They are upfront about their practices and how things are made.
So until then I encourage you to do some research on Zero Waste. You will be surprised of all the easy alternatives that are out there. All it takes is a few minutes and a some small changes.