Intern to The Standard
DURHAM: A man from Brooklin has managed to only create one bag of garbage in the last four years.
Sean Williamson has adopted a routine where he and his family create next to zero waste. He says it all starts with following the 3 R’s, reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Mr. Williamson reduces his waste through many aspects of his lifestyle, such as buying food locally, buying high-quality waste-free products, buying in bulk, modifying his showering system, composting in his backyard, and recycling whenever possible.
He says he implements these things into his lifestyle without living all that differently than the average person.
“We don’t do any of these things at the sacrifice of living like cave men,” Mr. Willamson said. “If anybody were to come to my house, they wouldn’t look around and say this is some weird house you got here Williamson. They really wouldn’t know the difference.”
One of the modifications he has made to his home, to make it more environmentally friendly, is renovating his showering system. He has modified it so it is totally enclosed and produces steam to keep the area warm without wasting water.
Instead of having the water running the entire time he is showering, Mr. Williamson only uses it to initially get himself wet and wash himself off.
“We’re using 80 per cent less water for a shower then the average Canadian would,” he said.
Along with reducing his water use, Mr. Williamson is using a fraction of the electricity of an average person.
“We have a lot of things on timers, so we are able to shift our electricity consumption to off-peak times,” he said.
The appliances and electronics he does use are high quality and energy efficient. Mr. Williamson rarely uses his dryer, instead, he hangs his laundry in his backyard.
“All our light bulbs in the house are either CFL or increasingly LED,” he said.
Landfills are overflowing with cheap quality products that have been thrown away. Mr. Williamson says buying high quality products, built to last, is one of the smart ways to save money and help the environment.
For example, blow dryers are a product which typically last no longer than a year. Because of this, Mr. Williamson went to a barber supply store and purchased a high-quality blow dryer for 50 per cent more than he would have usually paid. He has since had the blow dryer for ten or twelve years now, only fixing it on occasion.
“Unless it completely blows up tomorrow, I think we’ll have it for another ten or 12 years,” Mr. Williamson said.
Along with buying high quality items, he also says it helps the environment and the bank account, to buy in bulk.
“When you buy a lot of food in small quantities, you’re not buying the food you’re buying the packaging. If you buy a bag of rice and its only 500 grams, the cost of the actual rice in there is next to nothing. You’re paying a good chunk of money on the packaging and the transportation,” Mr. Williamson said.
Whereas, if a person buys a 20-pound bag of rice, instead of a 500 gram one, the consumer is paying very little for the packaging and paying mostly for the rice.
Mr. Williamson does admit, buying in bulk has its challenges. Having to eat the food before it spoils and being able to store it in a living space isn’t always easy.
“We don’t have a mansion here, but we designed our place so it can store large amounts of food,” Mr. Williamson said.
He says reducing waste is key, and it is better for the environment to reuse something before recycling it.
“We try and reduce as much as possible, we even try to reduce the amount of stuff that goes into the recycling. Because we’d rather reuse something than recycle it,” Mr. Williamson said.
The Williamson family continually donates outgrown clothes or unused products to different charitable organizations in the community.
“My daughter is constantly growing out of clothes, but we don’t let them build up, we use a donation box. We look at our stuff and say 'Hey I haven’t used this for 2 years.' so then we throw it in the box and drop it off and the proceeds go to a good cause.”
Through all these different methods of reducing waste, Mr. Williamson has been able to have a positive impact on the environment and save money at the same time.
“What I do, is doable and easy. If you aren’t concerned about the environment, do it because it saves you a whole pile of money.” Mr. Williamson said. “It’s nothing that takes extra effort and you don’t have to focus all your time on it.”