Nova Scotia

How a Halifax student plans to keep all her trash this year in a 500 ml jar

At 378 kilograms per person, Statistics Canada puts Nova Scotia's per capita waste output as the lowest in the country. But one Halifax student thinks she can cut that back even further — give or take about 377.5 kilograms.

Dalhousie sustainability student Brianna Maxwell has plenty of room in the jar 3 months into the year

Brianna Maxwell plans to produce only as much garbage in 2017 as can fit into this jar. (Brianna Maxwell)

According to Statistics Canada, Nova Scotia's per capita waste output is the lowest in Canada at 378 kilograms per person, but one Halifax student wants to cut that almost down to zero waste.

Brianna Maxwell, a second-year student in sustainability and community design at Dalhousie University, says she's been trying to reduce her environmental footprint for years. She decided that in 2017, her personal garbage would not go beyond a single 500-millilitre jar.

"I've been trying to transition towards this for the past five years because I couldn't stand how much of an impact I was having on the planet. But January was when I decided to say, 'No, I'm not going to continue contributing to this,'" she told CBC. 

Homemade soap, shampoo

Maxwell has been on the near-zero waste plan for a few months and said there's lots of space left in the jar.

"Right now there's some Band-Aids, a straw that I accidentally got when I was out — anything that's plastic that I can't recycle in the HRM," she said of the jar's contents. 

An important part of reducing her environmental footprint to the size of a jar of peanut butter involves making things for herself. She crafts her own shampoo, toothpaste and soap, cutting down on the waste generated from their packaging. 

Her toothpaste is a mixture of coconut oil and baking soda; the shampoo is aloe vera, apple cider vinegar and water.

"It's really nice to be able to see what I'm actually using and where I'm getting it," said Maxwell. 

'It's fun as well'

The project isn't without sacrifice. Maxwell said she misses chocolate. "I mean, Bulk Barn is okay with getting chocolate, but then I have to worry about where that's all coming from and if that really is the best choice."

But for all the time and effort required on her part, Maxwell said it's worth it to know she's having an impact — or rather, less of one. 

"I actually know a lot of people who are trying to do zero waste or reduce their footprints in some way and I would much rather have [them] as part of my community that way then doing nothing at all, because together we can make a difference — and it's fun as well."

Brianna Maxwell said she's been trying to reduce her environmental footprint for years, but committed to living a zero waste lifestyle in January. (Moira Donovan/CBC)

With files from CBC's Information Morning