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Yellowknife woman experiences highs and lows of living (mostly) waste-free

If there's one thing a woman in Yellowknife learned about trying to live waste-free for a month, it's that it isn't easy. "I think it would be a bit naive to say that the whole month went great," says Jade Cambron.

Taking reusable containers everywhere and abstaining from buying things isn't easy, as Jade Cambron learned

Jade Cambron of Yellowknife proudly shows the homemade bins she and her roommates used to measure their waste. (Rachel Zelniker/CBC)

If there's one thing a woman in Yellowknife learned about trying to live waste-free for a month, it's that it isn't easy. 

"I think it would be a bit naive to say that the whole month went great," says Jade Cambron.

For the month of November, Cambron followed a strict regime. She wasn't allowed to produce any garbage or buy anything other than groceries and basic toiletries. She abstained from processed food, learned how to make homemade soap and brought reusable containers everywhere. 

The result? 

Cambron figures she produced less than 300 grams of garbage for the month. Not quite her original goal of zero waste, but better than most Canadians, who produce more garbage per capita than any other country in the developed world.

She started the challenge with her roommates, who fell off the bandwagon part way through the month. It wasn't all smooth sailing for Cambron, either. 

"At one point, I was just having a bad day... my impulse was to go buy something," she says. "I wanted that material comfort."

Although she did resist the urge to buy anything unnecessary for the 30 days, living day-to-day was not without its hurdles. Cambron says it can be socially uncomfortable to bring your own reusable container to a restaurant and ask the server to put a leftover meal in it. But, she says, if everyone did things like that, waste-reducing behaviour would become normal. 

"[It's] a big habit to try and incorporate — a feasible one I think — but it does take a certain amount of mindfulness at the beginning." 

Cambron will take some of these habits forward into the holiday season. She says being more waste-conscious doesn't have to mean abstaining from all purchases for everyone. 

"It can still be gifts, but maybe it doesn't have to be made-in-China consumer goods." 

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