Nova Scotia·Waves of Change

Still need a New Year's resolution? Try ditching the single-use plastics

Five Nova Scotia women are making small changes in their own lives to tackle the big problem of climate change — and they're encouraging others to get on board.

Coastal Climate Collective challenging Nova Scotians to make small changes every day in January

Wendy McCallum and Shannon Shields are two members of the Coastal Climate Collective. (Wendy McCallum)

Waves of Change is a CBC series exploring the single-use plastic we're discarding, and why we need to clean up our act. You can be part of the community discussion by joining our Facebook group.

Five Nova Scotia women are making small changes in their own lives to tackle the big problem of climate change — and they're encouraging others to get on board.

They started the Coastal Climate Collective a couple of months ago, and the Facebook group has quickly grown to more than 1,200 members. This month they're posting a new challenge every day, from getting rid of tea bags that contain plastic to using less plastic in your bathroom.

It was Shannon Shields's goal last year to create a zero-waste bathroom. Now instead of having a shower full of plastic bottles, she has one shampoo bar that she uses to shave and wash her hair and body.

She also uses a locally made loofah and has swapped her plastic shower curtain for a cloth one, which she says was an "aha moment."

"Why am I using this plastic shower curtain? I hadn't thought of it before," said Shields, who runs Body Honour, a company that sells cloth menstrual pads. "It was something we did while I was growing up and it never occurred to me until this year to stop doing that."

She hopes the daily challenges encourage the group's members to have similar "light bulb" moments.

"All of these things take practice," said Wendy McCallum, another member of the group. "The more you do it, the more it becomes a habit."

Shannon Shields, a member of the Coastal Climate Collective, set the goal of a zero-waste bathroom last year. She uses a reusable toothbrush, cloth menstrual pad, bar soap, metal razer, home-made toothpaste and a Nova Scotia-made loofah. (Submitted by Shannon Shields )

Tuesday's challenge is to get in the habit of trucking your own reusable bags to the grocery store.

"The idea is just to get people thinking about always having them with them," said McCallum. "Because we've probably all been there where we've arrived at the grocery store and realized that we've got nothing, and we've had to fill up our purse, if we've made a commitment to no plastic."

The five women who started the collective say they're no experts on climate change or living zero-waste. But they wanted to start somewhere. 

"We're all kind of in this place of starting together, learning together. So even though we're running the challenges we're kind of still learning ourselves," said Shields.

And while it's not always easy to convince their families of their mission, it hasn't slowed them down. 

"There's always going to be resistance, I think, when you make change like this," said McCallum. "And the more you make change yourself, the more buy-in you're going to have from your family members because they're going to stick out like a sore thumb in terms of what they're not doing."

Small changes add up. That's one of the driving ideas behind a challenge that some Nova Scotians are taking on this month. The Coastal Climate Collective has started the challenge every day through January. Wendy McCallum and Shannon Shields are two members of the group. 8:50

With files from CBC Radio's Information Morning