PEI·Waves of Change

Zero Waste P.E.I. growing awareness of plastic free options

Zero Waste P.E.I. is helping Prince Edward Islanders looking for ways to reduce their waste, including single-use plastic.

Charlottetown store getting a bump in business, thanks to the zero waste movement

Some of the items Rebecca McQuaid is using to reduce waste. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

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.

An online group is helping Prince Edward Islanders looking for ways to reduce their waste, including single-use plastic.

The group is called Zero Waste P.E.I., and it's growing exponentially, with more than 150 new followers in the past week.

Rebecca McQuaid, one of the new members and an administrator, first heard about the zero waste movement last summer, also on social media, and was looking for a way to make it local. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

"My initial idea for the group was basically to have a platform for people to share tips on ways to reduce their waste," said Rebecca McQuaid, one of the new members and an administrator. 

"But also to be able to ask questions on places maybe they could source different items on P.E.I. specifically so that we could share that knowledge and spread it around."

McQuaid first heard about the zero waste movement last summer, also on social media, and was looking for a way to make it local. 

"I think those daily inspirations and those tips from other people can really help to keep you motivated and keep you engaged in actively trying to reduce your waste," McQuaid said.

"There's been a lot of interest. It's been really great to see."

McQuaid says many of the posts focus on practical challenges to reducing waste, such as where to find spinach that's not in a plastic container or bag at this time of year. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

Practical challenges

McQuaid says many of the posts focus on practical challenges to reducing waste, for example where to find spinach that's not in a plastic container or bag at this time of year.

McQuaid says there are also services in bigger centres that aren't offered yet on P.E.I., such as places to refill your laundry detergent or dishwashing soap.

"It's growing this movement of people who want these services and I think they will come," McQuaid said.

"I think there are stores that are willing to bring those things in if there are enough people who are interested. I think that's the hope of a lot of people who are in the group."

Reuseable bags created by McQuaid and her mother to help reduce waste. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

McQuaid admits that, for some people, the zero waste movement comes with an additional cost.

"If I can source the item or service for about a ten per cent cost difference," McQuaid said.

"I would see that as a good trade off in terms of reducing my waste in that area."

Sustainable business

A store on P.E.I. is getting a bump in business, thanks to the zero waste movement.

Angie MacDonald and Kimberley Milette opened eco.spirit on July 1, 2018, focusing on sustainable clothing and other products.

Angie MacDonald holds purses made from recycled plastic bags. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

"There are more and more people out there looking for items that they know are not going to hurt the environment, like your bamboo, your hemp," MacDonald said.

"We don't believe in plastic here. When we bring plastic in, it's made into clothing or in shirts, something that's re-useable, that you're not putting into the environment."

These baskets are made from recycled materials including plastic, even an old phone cord. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

Among the products the store sells are leggings made from plastic drinking bottles and purses made from recycled grocery store bags.  

"People are floored, they are so amazed to find out there are so many ways to use plastic bags," MacDonald said.

"It's wonderful to have more and more people coming in and embracing a waste-free environment."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nancy Russell has been a reporter with CBC since 1987, in Whitehorse, Winnipeg, Toronto and Charlottetown. When not on the job, she spends her time on the water or in the gym rowing, or walking her dog. Nancy.Russell@cbc.ca

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now