The month of October was one of reflection at The Unscented Company. We’re constantly asked to partake in zero waste initiatives, yet we’ve always felt a bit uncomfortable with the term. As much as we strive for zero waste, the reality is that our current objective is to generate the least waste possible while operating a sustainable business in the long term. We like to look at our entire operations as a whole and spend the most of our energy on reducing waste where it will have the most impact. A philosophy that can be applied to your own less waste journey. Focus on what really matters and the changes you are comfortable with. Take time to reflect on the consumption choices that you are faced with on a daily basis, ask yourself, is there a better way ?

This month, our collaborator Elisabeth Poirier-Defoy from Canidé interviewed 3 very active members of the zero waste community and asked them to share their thoughts. Thank you to Mélissa de La Fontaine (Le Mini-Vert), Laure Caillot (Lauraki, zero waste mom) and Valérie Leloup (Nu Grocery) for having lent themselves to the game!

Mélissa de La Fontaine, Laure Caillot, & Valérie Leloup

If I say "waste reduction", what do you say?

Melissa : People think it's only buying in bulk, but it's so much more! Basically, it's the reduction of consumption. "First refuse and then reduce what we really need."

Laure : Obviously we must reduce at the source, it’s the action that has the most impact. Otherwise, refrain from buying something that is pre-packed.

Valérie : A zero waste lifestyle is a philosophy, a minimalist lifestyle choice. I always ask myself if I need something before buying.

« Le pot (mason) de déchets » Crédit: Les Trappeuses ‘‘The trash jar’’ Credit: Les Trappeuses

When you decided to transition to a zero waste lifestyle, what was the most difficult?

Mélissa : The first challenge was to change everyday life habits; the transition must be at its own pace. Then, the second challenge is to be against the grain, even if zero waste is more and more common.

Laure : The biggest challenge has been to accept that we are not perfect. We cannot change overnight, and it takes time to adapt!

Valérie : The challenge is to convert my 2 teenage girls to zero waste. The rule is to present the alternatives and let them make the decision that suits them best. Gradually, they change their habits!

Nu Grocery, photo : Lauraki

What is your next challenge?

Mélissa : My thinking was done in 3 steps: to reduce the production of garbage in my garbage cans, to think of more responsible consumption and I am now at the stage to engage with the community. Zero waste is much wider than our waste and our consumption, there is a social and political aspect.

Laure : The usual changes are gradually made outside the house with gestures as simple as bringing your dishes to the restaurant for leftovers, your napkin, etc.

Valérie : Personally, the transition to a zero waste lifestyle is progressive and I want to continue my quest towards minimalism. Professionally, I want to grow my business [Editor's note: a zero waste grocery store in Ottawa]. There is a gap between people who love the idea of zero waste and those who take action. It's a beautiful mission!

How do you see your transition to waste reduction?

Photo: Aurore Chollet for Nu Grocery