How I got the Khyber Pass restaurant in Montreal to start recycling
Last summer during a visit from my sister and brother-in-law, we decided to go to the Khyber Pass, a bring-your-own-wine Afghan restaurant, in Montreal. It’s a charming restaurant with great food (great vegetarian options too) and a cozy terrace in the back. One of the great aspects of dining-out in Montreal is that some restaurants have a bring-your-own-wine licence which encourages people to eat out more since you’re not spending a fortune on wine.
Thus, on this occasion, we did just that. We brought 2 bottles of wine and enjoyed a great meal. While discussing with the friendly waiter who had also lived in Victoria, BC (where my sister lived) we got got into great conversation about food and wine. At the end, he asked if I had finished eating and I made a comment like “Yah, you don’t compost leftovers do you?” to which he replied “No, we don’t even recycle wine bottles”.
Common bathroom and bedroom items often thrown out instead of recycled
Sometimes, we think recycling is reserved for items in our kitchen but that’s simply not true. There are many things we dispose of daily throughout the house that could easily be recycled.
- Toilet paper rolls
- Paper towel rolls
- Kleenex boxes – Remove the plastic lining, open the flaps on the side then flatten
- Shampoo & conditioner bottles
- Skin care bottles -Face cleanser, eye make-up remover, toner bottles & face cream containers
- Cooking oil bottles – I go through a bottle of olive oil a month but I always recycle them. Place the bottle on its side over the sink, then remove the plastic spout by placing a knife into the groove between the bottle and the spout, it will pop out. Clean by shaking with water and dish-washing soap first, then recycle.
Remove the plastic spout with a knife
- Beauty product containers – Shower gel & scrub containers
- Disposable hygienic products boxes -Q-tips, bandaid, pantyliner & feminine products boxes
- Hand & body lotion bottles – You might have to remove the pump, but you can easily recycle the bottle. Rinse first please.
- Toothbrush & some make-up packaging – Just because it has a small amount of paper packaging doesn’t mean it’s too small for the recycling bin. Recycle the back portion of the toothbrush package or why not your lipstick and mascara boxes?
- Vitamin & cough syrup bottles – Make sure to rinse the cough syrup bottles first so they’re clean and not sticky
- Deodorant packaging – This might surprise you but check the back. If you see the recycling symbol (two arrows) you’re good to go. Just make sure there is no deodorant left in it. Some deodorant spray cans can even be recycled too.
- Shaving cream bottles or cans – Same thing as deodorant. If you see the recycling symbol, you can, but do favour non-aerosol versions and ideally plastic bottles in the future which are more easily recyclable . You can also get shaving cream bar soaps which require no recycling at all as there is no packaging waste to begin with. Olive oil bar soap is also a great alternative for shaving.
If you see these recycling symbols on beauty products, you can recycle them
- Old bills, receipts & gum packaging – These papers can stack up quickly. Once you don’t need them anymore shred them (I take mine to work – shhh) then recycle them. As for gum, choose the non-blister packs as they are plastic-less and if you do get a blister pack, at least recycle the outside cardboard packaging.
- Pets – Yes, random, but pets also get disposed of when they are no longer wanted. Some are killed humanely, others are not. Where I live in Montreal, many are still killed in in gas chambers. If you’re looking for a friendly companion, please choose adoption and check out petfinder.com where you can choose a pet based on breed, sex or size, based on available pets in your area.
Clutch, once a stray dog, found his forever home thanks to MuttScouts
Recycling doesn't mean you're green
First, there were the hotels with their “Please reuse your towels so we can save water” cards. They were one of the first industries to get on board with greenwashing about a decade ago. I admit, at first, I was happy to see this, and reused my towels. Yet, it was really just a ploy to save money for if they really cared about the environment, they would have also had recycling boxes in every room and offered non-disposable plates and cutlery in the restaurants.
I’m starting to see this same kind of green superficiality making its way into our society. With its guise of being positive (and I’m not saying it’s 100% not) it’s not challenging us to question our daily habits and make changes that will really make a difference. I constantly hear “Oh I’m green because I recycle” or “I’m green because I buy energy-efficient lightbulbs” and “Oh cool, my X brand coffee cup is compostable”. As if it took just a purchase to be green.
You are not green simply because: Continue reading
Reflecting on being green in Trinidad, Cuba
This past week-end, i got back from a much needed vacation in Cuba. While there, I reflected a lot upon the feasibility of being green in a developing, socialist no less, nation.
Often in the developed world, we equate being “green” with “green” products. It’s true that making the switch from conventional to “green” or eco-friendly products is definitely a step in the right direction, but I think we’ve lost track of the essential meaning. A green lifestyle should be about reducing consumption, not the buying of new “green” products. Check out the story of stuff if this doesn’t make sense.
It’s easy to be ethnocentric and judge other peoples cultures. Immediately upon arriving in Varadero, I was quick to judge the resort I was at for not recycling (shampoo bottles, pop cans, wine & rum bottles etc.) and bus drivers that would idle for half an hour at rest stops.
However, upon reflection, the Cubans did much more than I have seen Canadians do in a long time which probably impacts the environment even more. They live a lifestyle that we have long forgotten about. A lifestyle that embodies the basics of no waste, albeit for economic reasons. Continue reading
As I’ve written before, recycling is not the answer; rather, the focus should be on reducing waste in the first place. However, in certain circumstances, like when you’re travelling in urban centres, it’d be nice to be able to recycle your water bottle rather than throw it out. I recently made a few trips south of the border to New York, Washington DC and Phoenix and was greatly disappointed by the lack of recycling bins in the downtown areas for glass and plastic bottles.
Absolutely unacceptable - Manhattan garbage
Let’s start off with New York City, an avant-garde city that starts positive trends. Yet, I was horrified by the amount of waste that was thrown out each night in front of boutiques and restaurants, not to mention, the lack of recycling bins throughout Manhattan. I remember asking an employee at Burger King (yes, I ate there but I had the veggie burger) where I could recycle my water bottle and the girl looked at me like I was crazy! I stayed at an awesome boutique hotel called the Room Mate Grace right in the Continue reading
Has your life ever felt like a constant contradiction? Wanting to fit in yet wanting to be different? Wanting to follow the status quo yet not wanting to conform? I struggle with many issues in my personal and professional life; stuggle to figure out who I am and what I’m willing to support. . Sometimes I wish I could just live an easy life, never question anything, eat meat like the rest of people, dress never questioning where the materials came from, where regulary advertised beauty products without worrying about the chemical ingredients in them, use prescribed drugs despite the animal testing, throw out garbage instead of recycling, except I can’t. I see things beyond the surface level and am aware of what had to happen in order for these products to exist. Whether I like it or not, I am Green. A critical thinker. And I love it! I really truly want to make this world a better place and hope that I can limit my personal impact throughout my existence on this earth. This is my personal journey to being green, the obstacles I will tackle in reducing my carbon footprint and the pleasure it’ll bring me.