When I was a teenager, I used to babysit for a family down the street that had a candy drawer. It was, just as it sounds, an entire drawer full of candy. After dinner, if it was a weekend, the kids could each pick one item out of the drawer. And once they went to bed I would settle on the couch with a selection of licorice, gummy worms, and various chocolatey treats and devour them until my teeth ached.
I remember this particularly because back at my house, we definitely did not have a candy drawer. To be fair, I probably didn’t have enough self control to have a drawer of candy, and we did have a cookie jar filled with homemade goodness, but as everyone knows, cookies aren’t candy.
Whether it was the lack of a dedicated drawer or my naturally ravenous sweet tooth, I have great nostalgia for candy. Most of it centres around the following:
- The obvious annual Halloween bonanza.
- The customary giddy anticipation of corner store candy purchases where I could spend my allowance however I wanted (generally a box of nerds, a ring pop, or a lick-a-stick because they lasted the longest and I have long been a girl who values a good deal).
- Skittles. My Dad would occasionally come home with a coveted package of these shiny fruity wonders. I associated Skittles so closely with being a “Dad candy” that I was actually surprised years later when I realized that anyone could just walk into a grocery store and buy them.
- And finally, the eatmore bar. At some point in my later childhood, after she went back to work full time and we started packing our own lunches, my mom began buying bulk packs of eatmore bars. Usually we had granola bars, but when the eatmores were in the house, each of us kids were allowed half of one in our lunch. It was the ultimate treat: soft and chewy, salty sweet, peanuty goodness, and it’s something I’ve missed since we headed down the zero waste path and stopped buying things like plastic wrapped candy bars. (I told you I was nostalgic about this stuff)
Anyway, today I unexpectedly discovered that my Whitewater cookbook had a recipe for eatmore bars in it. Even after all my do-it-yourselfing it never even occurred to me that I could MAKE them. And now, after all of 5 minutes, I have a whole pan of candy bars in the house.
If only I could figure out how to make skittles, I’d be set. . .
PS-If you want to try eatmore bars for yourself, there’s a similar recipe here
Sometimes Grant and I get to speak to school groups. We show our film and tell a few stories and answer questions about living zero waste. And sometimes I’m stuck that we’re talking to youth who maybe don’t have a lot of control over their garbage. I mean, most of our garbage comes from food packaging, and they probably aren’t the ones buying the food in their family. I even had one girl ask me today “but what can I do?”
I’ve been thinking about it. And I think there are lots of things you can do to reduce waste even if you’re under 19. Here are some ideas to get you started. You don’t have to do everything; just start with what works for you!
- Carry a stainless steel water bottle and vow never to buy bottled water again.
- Bring your reusable container and cutlery everywhere! (start at your cafeteria)
- Ask for experiences as gifts (think birthday presents like movie or concert tickets, playland or fun park passes, a massage, a hiking trip, skiing, etc)
- Buy clothes that are secondhand or have a clothing swap with your friends. Donate clothes that you’ve outgrown to charity (organizations like Big Brothers will even pick them up from your house)
- Look on your municipal website to see what can be easily recycled where you live. Then talk to your family and set up recycling bins in a convenient place in your home.
- Focus on one thing. Pick one thing that you can live without (plastic bags, paper napkins, disposable cutlery) and start avoiding it today. Once it becomes easy, then add something else.
- If you pack your own lunch, try to make it zero waste by eating whole fruits and packing food in reusable containers. Try making some of your favorite packaged food from scratch (eg. granola bars)
- If you’re a female, try reusable feminine hygiene like a menstrual cup or cloth pads.
1. Start Composting (this is a big one, so do it as a group, and talk to your administration and teachers to get help if you implement).
- The Students at Windermere Secondary in Vancouver have a large composter and even have a Zero Waste Committee. Check it out here.
2. Make recycling at school easier.
- The shop students at Charles Tupper Secondary in Vancouver made attractive wooden recycling bins with three compartments to have in school hallways.
- Homma Elementary in Richmond has great posters reminding people to recycle and compost.
3. Try your own challenge.
- The students at UBC Commerce Environment Club decided to carry all their garbage with them for a week to draw attention to how much they produced. They said it automatically made them make better packaging choices.
3. Do something at school to draw attention to garbage.
- The students at Fraser Heights Secondary School in Surrey made a Christmas Tree out of reused pop cans
4. Start a Campaign or a Petition
- When she was just 16 Michelle Arsenault of Dryden, Ontario started the website http://www.onelessplasticbag.ca/ to help her community reduce plastic bag use.
- UBC Students got a waterbottle refill station installed to help people cut down on buying plastic water bottles.