Many of you may wonder how some of my topics have anything to do with my profession as a registered dietitian. As a dietitian, my role is to help you understand the impact and potential of food in helping you lead and maintain a healthy body and life by « translating » for you all the food and nutrition science information that is out there and not always easy to decipher. Personally, I feel that if the focus is only food, I can only help and support you in adopting healthy eating habits which will also contribute to you living a healthier life, but not entirely. How can we make healthier food choices without at some point during that decision process seriously consider how the food was produced or grown, processed or cooked? What was the health of the soil that grew the potatoes sitting in your pantry, how was the cow used for your filet mignon raised and what type of food was used to nourish it, what types of additives or preservatives were added to your jarred tomato sauce or to your favorite yogurt to make sure it won’t separate, has a longer shelf life or to enhance its smell and color? There is more to food than just the number of macro and micronutrients it contains… Furthermore, our bodies do not exist independently or seprately from our environment, but instead are deeply connected and intertwined with it. Consequently, keeping our air, soil, water and planet healthy is equally important to keeping our bodies healthy as making the right food choices is. It is my goal and mission to inspire you to not only make the changes that will help you live a healthier life, but also keep our planet healthy!
The week of October 15th to the 21st is Waste Reduction Week in Canada; it is actually the 17th year since it was first introduced. Reducing our waste simply means to find new ways of doing things; using different products or processes that enable us to eliminate or at least reduce the amount of toxic waste and materials that we use and get rid of, and that end up accumulating on our lands, in our water and air, and consequently are having a negative impact on our health and that of the planet and all its inhabitants.
One of the ever increasing toxic material and waste we are facing is plastic. The use of plastic, especially single-use, disposable items, has incredibly multiplied in the past 50 years. It has been estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Plastic is one of the most preferred materials in today’s industrial world for many reasons: it is lightweight, flexible, strong and durable, it can be colored, melted, injected, thremomoulded, transformed in different ways and shapes, and is less costly than many materials out there. Unfortunately, plastic pollution is a serious problem that bears grave consequences. Many of you may be thinking as you are reading this “well I recycle so I do my part”. Recycling is NOT enough, in fact in 2017, National Geographic reported that only 9% of plastic worldwide is actually recycled. You need more facts? It takes between 100 to 1000 years to degrade plastic that is left in landfills; meanwhile it is polluting the air and water around it, which has a direct effect on our environment (soil, air, water, and animals) and our health. More than 8 million tons of plastic waste flow into the ocean each year. We have all seen the shocking images or videos of beautiful ocean creatures surrounded by a vortex of plastic waste. Well, there is more than one of these found in the oceans. The largest one was discovered in 2009, a floating island in the Pacific Ocean, larger than Quebec, which has been recognized as a new state by the UNESCO: the Garbage Patch State®. It gets worse. What we don’t see are the small plastic pellets, thinner than the diameter of a human hair, that are micro-polluting our food chain and water supply. And it has been well documented that plastic does contain various harmful chemicals in it, such as BPA, BPS, phthalates, lead, known to be toxic and have been linked to different diseases.
Sadly, this plastic pollution is originating from where we stand, the land, more specifically, ourselves. We need to change our ways because our attraction to plastic, over consumption, littering and polluting is estimated to get much, much worse and it is already having catastrophic effects on our world.
We are so used to doing things a certain way that change is hard, I get that! The great part of it all is that if we ALL just make one small change, not only is it less overwhelming, but it can have a big impact on the planet. Let’s look at some of the numerous ways we can make a change in our kitchens and everyday routine. Sometimes reducing your waste starts by just taking a good look at what you are throwing in the recycling bin. Assess the situation and find a solution, it’s often right there in front of us, we just need to get a bit creative. If produce bags are what fills up your bin, start by changing that. If single-use plastic containers (individual yogurts, juices, etc.) are a big thing in your home, buy the bigger/family format. If it’s water bottles, get a pretty reusable one. The possibilities are endless. The first step is always hard, but I promise you will feel empowered and thrilled as you implement a new change that you will definitely stick to it, and maybe even want to add in a second one. Doesn’t just knowing all this make it worth a try? You want to get started, watch and read my PART 1 on Reducing Our Waste here and don't miss my PART 2 segment coming up on October 15th on Global News Montreal.