Recently moved into a “new to you” home? Here’s the fifth in a week long series on things you can do to improve your home’s sustainability.

by Peter Speckner, Communications Coordinator

  1. Walk or ride a bike to get around
    Driving your car causes pollution, needs money for gas and maintenance, plus the costs of parking. Walking or riding a bike is also good exercise and far better for the environment.
  2. Buy in bulk or from your local farmers’ market
    farmers marketProducts from stores come with more packaging, and have usually traveled quite the distance to get there. Local products have used less energy to reach the market, and will help strengthen the local economy.
  3. Use reusable items instead of single-use or recyclable
    Plastic water bottles, plastic bags, and take-out containers are some of the easiest things to avoid using. By using glass bottles, reusable bags, and bringing your own container to stores and restaurants, you can greatly reduce the amount of waste you create.
  4. Grow some of your own food
    backyard gardenIt used to be that families grew the majority of food that they ate. Mass food production and grocery stores have taken that need away. Growing your own food can have its own benefits: lower cost, environmental awareness, educating children on food production, and the knowledge of what goes into your food (ie. pesticides).
  5. Use all-natural, non-toxic cleaning supplies
    It might be surprising to find out that the majority of the cleaning products we use are actually bad for the environment. Most don’t think of what happens to that dish soap or floor cleaner that went down the drain, but the sad fact is it will most likely find its way into Mother Nature, where it will cause problems. There are plenty of cleaners out there that are environmentally friendly, do just as good a job, but won’t harm the environment when they find their way there. Or better yet make your own cleaning products!


Check out REEP Green Solutions Zero Waste 101 for more blog posts and videos on how you can reduce your waste and live a more sustainable lifestyle!

Here is a presentation to assist participants in the Zero Waste Challenge Waterloo Region that also helps anyone interested in reducing the waste they create. If you’re looking for more information, check out our zero waste 101 page.

Do you have any tips? Please share them in the comments below!


REEP Green Solutions is excited to announce a week long Zero Waste Challenge in Waterloo Region from October 24-28. This event will help guide those interested in participating to learn how to get involved to effectively limit their waste. We also suggest that you review the ideas and strategies shared on our Zero Waste 101 page.

So you have decided to participate in the Zero Waste Challenge Waterloo Region? Or perhaps you are just looking for ways to reduce the amount of waste that you send to the landfill.

Members of our Zero Waste Team will share with you strategies on reducing your waste so that even a family can successfully meet the challenge.

You’ll learn about 5 Rs:

  • Refuse and instead purchase items that can be borrowed, rented, and repaired.
  • Reduce waste by saying no to excessive packaging (i.e. gift wrap).
  • Reuse by passing items along to others who may need them (i.e. donating).
  • Recycle items to save their value (i.e. batteries).
  • Rot the rest (i.e. composting)


Our Speakers:

Devin Bettincourt and Naomi Sunu are both members of the Zero Waste Waterloo Region team as volunteers with REEP Green Solutions.


  • Presentation: 1:30 p.m.
  • Q & A: 2:00 p.m.
  • Meetup of Zero Waste Challenge Participants: 2:15 – 3:15

OPEN HOUSE: 2:15 – 3:30 P.M.

Come early or stay to explore the REEP House for Sustainable Living. Or come to check out the house’s environmental features.

Transportation and Parking

If REEP House for Sustainable Living is a short walk from your home that is the best way to get there.

We have a bike rack in front of the house for several bicycles. Since the house is very close to the Iron Horse Trail that may be a good choice.

Several GRT bus routes use Queen Street and have stops near Mill Street.

If you are driving, we encourage you to car pool with others you know are attending.

Since the house only has a few parking spots, we have arranged for parking spaces in a small private lot off Mitchell Street. Just walk across the grass to the back of the house or use the sidewalk on Queen to enter the front of the house.


Check out REEP Green Solutions Zero Waste 101 for more blog posts and videos on how you can reduce your waste and live a more sustainable lifestyle!

Natural Hygiene Products

by Devin Bettencourt

Your skin is your largest organ and it’s like a sponge, absorbing everything you put on it. Unfortunately, many store-bought personal hygiene products are packed full of chemicals, which pose a threat to your health and well-being. Chemicals such a BPA, BPS, DEHP, Phthalates, and Fragrances have been linked to the development of certain cancers, endocrine disruption, infertility and birth defects, cardiovascular and heart disease, and even organ failure. Pretty scary stuff! According to EWG (a non-profit organization that seeks to educate consumers on product safety), only 11% of cosmetics are tested for safety by the cosmetic industry. These are products many people put on their skin every single day!

In addition to many of these products being hazardous for our health, many products are packaged in plastic which pose a threat to our environment. This contributes to the excessive plastic waste that is currently overfilling our landfills, leaching chemicals into our water supply, and floating in our oceans resulting in marine life fatality. If you want to learn more about the effects of single-use plastic on our environment the Plastic Pollution Coalition is a fantastic organization that seeks to empower people and companies to eliminate plastic pollution.

So what can you do now for your health and the health of the environment? Make natural hygiene products at home! It is a safe and simple alternative to store-bought products, it much less expensive, and you can drastically decrease your waste production! Below we have attached some links and videos to get you started on making your own natural hygiene products.

Have fun!


Here is a quick video on how to make your own zero waste toothpaste:


Here is another video on how to make your own zero waste deodorant:

Learn more:

Coconut Oil Toothpaste – Pare Down

Homemade Natural Hygiene Products – Earth Mamas World


Photo Credit: Devin Bettencourt



Check out REEP Green Solutions Zero Waste 101 for more blog posts and videos on how you can reduce your waste and live a more sustainable lifestyle!

Natural is the Way to Go

Enough with the store bought cleaning products. It’s time to replace old those expensive store bought products in your home for natural homemade cleaners.  It’s a great way to save money, limit plastic packaging and avoid unnecessary dangerous chemicals! Homemade cleaning products are just as effective as the products you buy at your store and incredibly quick and easy to make.

Take a look at the Be Zero – Natural Cleaners blog post for some great ideas on how to make natural cleaners for your bathroom, windows, kitchen, floors and more!

Below is also a video covering more natural cleaning products and tools you can use for zero waste cleaning today:

Learn more:

About Home – Homemade and Natural Cleaning Products

Photo Credit: Devin Bettencourt



Check out REEP Green Solutions Zero Waste 101 for more blog posts and videos on how you can reduce your waste and live a more sustainable lifestyle!

Declutter Your House

In today’s society, the market system depends on our ever increasing consumption of goods and services. As a result companies have done their best to convince us we need the latest and greatest gadget, pair of shoes, car, decor… the list goes on and on. This has lead to a great deal of over-consumption, which has detrimental effects on our environment. It is no overstatement when we say many of the world’s ecosystems are collapsing, habitats are being degraded, species are facing extinction, and we are polluting our basic necessities for life – water, air and land. So what can we do?

Aiming for a more Zero Waste lifestyle is a great opportunity to take control of your impact on the environment. Decluttering your home can seem like a daunting task, but many people who have challenged themselves to do so not only support a more sustainable lifestyle, but find it quite liberating! There are many online sources to help guide you through the process of decluttering your home. At the bottom of this blog post we have attached some site links with great simple steps you can follow to begin decluttering your home today!


Lauren Singer, well known for her Trash is for Tossers blog, covers in this video zero waste alternatives for your bathroom!


This video covers how this vlogger has made her kitchen more green, more cost effective, and closer to zero waste!

Learn more:

Declutter Zero Waste Challenge – Be Zero

6 Popular Decluttering Methods – Break the Twitch

How to Create a Zero Waste Capsule Wardrobe – My Zero Waste


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 13, 2016

The first challenge to be held October 24 – 28

Kitchener – REEP Green Solutions challenges Waterloo Region residents to reduce their waste destined for the landfill to as close to zero as possible between October 24 to 28. Participants of Zero Waste Challenge Waterloo Region are asked to place all the waste they create into a one litre mason jar to track their success.  Maximizing what can be diverted from the landfill through recycling and using the green bin is encouraged. The challenge also recommends that people refuse options that unnecessarily create waste such as water bottles or plastic wrapped vegetables. Anyone interested in the challenge is asked to sign up at:

“We live in a society that generates a lot of waste and we seldom think twice about it. When we do think about it, we often feel helpless to make a difference,” said Mary Jane Patterson, executive director of REEP Green Solutions. “Zero Waste Challenge Waterloo Region wants people to recognize how much waste we create, how we can divert more of it from the landfill and ultimately how we can reduce any kind of waste. We are encouraging people to think about the choices we make and commit to developing new habits.” Strategies, tips and advice on succeeding in the challenge is available at:

Waste reduction is the next natural area of focus for REEP Green Solutions, as an essential part of  living sustainably. The environment is negatively affected by the use of natural resources and the energy required to make products and packaging that is used for a very short period of time before being discarded. And too much ends up in the landfill.

“We have been helping people live sustainably since we were founded in 1999 to conduct home energy evaluations,” said Patterson. “We have since added water conservation, storm water management as a way to protect our water resources, and the REEP House for Sustainable Living as a model home, Helping people reduce their waste is another step in living our mission ‘to empower the community with the practical tools, knowledge and capacity for action to make sustainable living the norm.’”

One of the harmful impacts of waste is the emission of greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Reducing the amount of waste buried in the landfill helps to eliminate those greenhouse gas emissions. It also reduces the emissions caused by the production and transport of goods and packaging.

REEP Green Solutions is an environmental charity that helps people to live sustainably. A major focus is on preventing climate change through residential energy efficiency and adapting to it through storm water management.

– 30 –


Check out REEP Green Solutions Zero Waste 101 for more blog posts and videos on how you can reduce your waste and live a more sustainable lifestyle!

Zero Waste Grocery Shopping

Next time you step into your local grocery store, take a moment to notice how much food is prepackaged in plastic. It’s a lot! Is all this packaging really that necessary? There are simple steps each of us can take in order to minimize our consumption of unnecessary packaging while we grocery shop.

Simple Tips:

1. Avoid purchasing products wrapped in plastic.
2. Bring your own reusable shopping bags, produce bags, and jars.
3. Shop in bulk!

That’s it! By being conscious, avoiding packaging, and with a little pre-planning we can make a huge difference in reducing the waste we create while grocery shopping. Don’t get discouraged if you forget your produce bag or a jar here or there, with practice it will become second-nature grabbing these items on your way out the door! Below are some videos and links for further information on how to zero waste grocery shop!

For specifics on how to shop in bulk, this vlogger takes you along with her as she grocery shops for typical pantry items:

In addition, this video covers how to easily grocery shop the zero waste way:


Additional Resources

Zero Waste Grocery Shopping – Zero Waste Home

10 Steps to a Zero Waste Shopping Routine – Tree Hugger

Photo Credit: Devin Bettencourt



Check out REEP Green Solutions Zero Waste 101 for more blog posts and videos on how you can reduce your waste and live a more sustainable lifestyle!

Say No to Plastic Water Bottles!

By Devin Bettencourt

The ever increasing consumption of bottled water fuels an unsustainable industry that weighs heavily on our environment. Bottled water has an surprising low recycle rate, and majority of bottles unfortunately end up in the landfill and the oceans. This blog post covers the negative effects of water bottle consumption, important information on Kitchener/Waterloo tap water, and what you can do to make a positive impact!

Negative Effects of Bottled Water

This short clip below illustrates briefly the negative effects of water bottle consumption.

In addition, the following image, provided by Wheels for Wishes, illustrates some further important information regarding bottled water. Take a look! Some information may surprise you.


Kitchener / Waterloo Tap Water

Many people express their concerns on the quality of local tap water, however, it may come as a surprise for some to learn that tap water is just as safe as, if not safer, than bottled water! Standards for our tap water are very stringent and must meet high levels of quality legislated by the Ontario Ministry of Environment. You can find our Kitchener/Waterloo Water Quality Report online.

What can you do?

Purchase a plastic-free reusable water bottle and make it a habit to pack your reusable water bottle and take it with you everywhere you go! Many places will allow you to refill your bottle for free. If you are concerned with the taste of local tap water, you can purchase a filter pitcher, travel bottles with built-in filters, or even install inexpensive faucet filter for your home.

Removing plastic water bottles from your daily life is one small change that has a huge positive impact!

Further Reading

5 Reasons to Ban Bottled Water – Council of Canadians

Bottled Water Facts – Ban the Bottle

15 Outrageous Facts about the Bottled Water Industry – Business Insider

photo credit: Diavolomezzo

Check out REEP Green Solutions Zero Waste 101 for more blog posts and videos on how you can reduce your waste and live a more sustainable lifestyle!

Repair Rather than Replace

In a throwaway culture it has become habit to toss ‘broken’ household items to the landfill without even batting an eye. This has had detrimental impacts on our environment as more waste accumulates indefinitely into our landfills, that could have been repaired. But this is a habit that can be broken! You can reduce the amount of waste you produce, the amount of money you spend replacing items, and even learn a thing or two while you’re at it!

Repair Cafe Toronto is a great example of communities working together to support one another to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Check out the video below, which touches on Toronto’s Repair Cafe.

Repair Cafe Toronto – 1st Anniversary (May 2014) from Repair Cafe Toronto on Vimeo.

In addition to community get togethers such as the Repair Cafe, you can go online to sites such as This website is a wonderful resource to get together as an online community to share ideas and help guide each other on how to fix a wide array of items!

So next time something that you own needs to be repaired, consider learning how to fix it instead of disposing of it right away. If the item is unable to be fixed, make sure to recycle it properly.


Photo Credit: iStock/scyther5

© Copyright REEP Green Solutions. All rights reserved.