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How to Make Sustainable Product Choices

How to Make Sustainable Product Choices

In this day and age, you've probably heard of the green agenda. It’s everywhere ⁠— from what’s shown on the TV to the ads on your phone, countless private individuals and organizations are voicing out calls to save our planet. And rightly so, as the UN recently released findings revealing that we only have 12 years before our climate takes a turn for the worst. With this in mind, it’s imperative that we make environmentally mindful decisions in our daily lives, and one key area for this is buying goods.

But since we live in a hyper-consumerist society, making conscious choices for sustainability can be a little daunting. If you don’t know where to start, here's how you can make environmentally conscious choices the next time you shop.

Educating yourself is key

Understanding why you have to make eco-conscious choices is valuable in the fight to push back climate change. Most people are aware of the principles and ideas behind sustainability, but awareness alone can’t incite real change. One way of going about this is by reading on why different industries have varying impacts on the production of greenhouse gases ⁠— the main industry by-product that speeds up the warming of the earth.

To illustrate, being knowledgeable about why plastic bags are terrible for the earth can lead you to the conscious choice to switch these out for cotton totes. However, using cotton bags doesn't automatically mean that you’re a certified sustainability warrior. In fact, Vice points out that while reusable cotton bags can certainly mitigate plastic waste, producing them creates water pollution that’s up to 600 times worse compared to plastic bags. In order for cotton totes to actually help the environment, you’ll have to purchase these sparingly and utilize them for as long as they can be used. This goes to show how it’s crucial to be properly educated on your environmentally conscious options, as some can be deceiving or counterproductive when not carried out right.

Know which companies to support

More and more businesses are announcing that they’re adopting sustainable measures to lessen their carbon footprint. But before you fall into their claims of eco-friendliness, you should do your due diligence and confirm if they actually practice what they preach. It’s not easy for huge businesses to go green as this involves doing a massive overhaul ⁠— down to the core of their business model.

The Competition Bureau of Canada points out that making false sustainability claims and ads, commonly known as ‘greenwashing’, is against the law. But, it’s actually incredibly difficult to officially disprove a company's sustainability claims. Other than making sure that a company is completely transparent with these claims, you can also do the earth a favor by supporting local businesses, as these have been found to make substantially smaller carbon footprints than huge companies.

Make the shift to an eco-conscious lifestyle

In your search for sustainable product choices, you might come across some lifestyle approaches that are particularly better for the planet. Forbes reports that the clothing industry constitutes 10% of the total global carbon emissions, so making mindful changes like going thrift shopping instead of buying something new certainly helps cut down your carbon footprint (and your spending!)

Moreover, conscious consumption applies to food choices too, and the numbers show that we are slowly getting there. Indeed, 2019 was even declared "The Year of the Vegan", as it saw a record number of Americans eliminate meat from their diet, and more businesses embracing vegan operations and products. Furthermore, the desire to make eco-conscious diet changes is also felt here in Canada, as Nielsen Research reveals that 43% of Canadians want to incorporate more plant-based foods in their daily meals. To practice sustainability in picking out your food, look for labels that say it’s ethically and sustainably produced.

All in all, wanting to make sustainable product choices can feel extremely limiting, especially at first. But if you realize that it's all actually just a choice between saving the planet and losing it, then the choice is well worth the sacrifice.

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The Covid-19 Discussion We Should All be Having

The Covid-19 Discussion We Should All be Having

The first few cases of Covid-19 were reported in December 2019 in Hubei province in central China. This virus quickly spread around the world, and as of writing, there are over 884,000 cases worldwide, and that number is likely going to continue to grow.

The World Health Organization officially announced it a pandemic on March 11, immediately causing many countries to introduce mandatory lockdowns and quarantines. Several weeks later many of us find ourselves confined in our homes in an attempt to flatten the curve to mitigate the impact on our health care systems.

Given the volume of research and data being collected about the novel coronavirus, it inevitably will be an evolving case, with answers continually coming in. However, before knowing the full extent of this current pandemic, we can look at past viruses to better understand health crises.

In the past 20 years there have been a total of three pathogenic novel coronaviruses; SARS-CoV (commonly known as SARS) in 2003, MERS-CoV (commonly known as MERS) in 2012, and currently SARS-CoV-2 (commonly known as Covid-19). All three of these novel coronaviruses had one thing in common: they all originated in animals.

A zoonotic disease is when a virus can spread among different species, or more formally known as an inter-species jump. From preliminary reports and genetic analysis, it appears that all three of the novel coronaviruses stem from bat viruses that spread to intermediate animals, such as the civet cat, camel, and pangolin, respectively.

How do these viruses jump between species? Not to get too in-depth with the science here but it mainly boils down to access and ability. In other words, can the virus enter the cells of a new host and once there can it replicate within these new cells? There are many instances and environments that make it easier for viruses to cross species, and one of them is the confinement of animals, which is precisely where Covid-19 emerged from, in a wet market.

Medical anthropologists have identified three major periods of disease and the first was the domestication of animals. For example, the domestication of cows and sheep brought forth their Rinderpest virus which turned into measles once the virus found a human host. As there is a vaccine for measles this virus is typically viewed as benign and therefore doesn’t pose a serious threat, but historically speaking in the last 150 years it has killed over 200 million people worldwide.

Similar diseases have emerged from other domesticated animals, such camels, pigs, and poultry. In addition, there have also been diseases that have emerged from the illegal trading and consumption of wildlife, for example HIV AIDS from chimpanzees.

According to some medical historians, we have now entered the Age of Emerging Plagues, which roughly started in 1975. If the viruses that domesticated animals brought forth have been mitigated by the creation of vaccines, why are there constant new diseases springing up? According to Dr. Michael Greger it is because we are changing the ways animals live. Both domesticated animals and wildlife have had to adapt to changing environments led by us. The expansion of cities and suburbs have caused many habitats to change, the appetite for new and exotic meats have created wildlife farms, and a growing and wealthier global population have increased the demand for meats paving the way for more aggressive industrial scale agriculture.

According to Dr. Greger’s talk where he quotes the W.H.O, “the bottom line is that humans have to think about how they treat their animals, how they farm them, how they market them, basically the whole relationship between the animal kingdom the human kingdom as coming under stress.”

We are currently in a global pandemic, no matter where you are in this world, we are all experiencing the same thing. We are all confined in our homes, under anxiety and stress not knowing who will be the next to fall ill, not knowing how we will cope if we do catch the virus, and not knowing when this will all end.

Never before have we been so united in sharing our fears and experiences. We’ve been advised from our local governments what we need to do to keep ourselves healthy and safe: stay home, maintain more than 6 feet-2 meters from others, not to touch your face and wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds.

Shouldn’t we also be digging deep into our lifestyles, specifically our dietary behaviours? If most of these plagues and viruses have stemmed from our treatment towards animals, shouldn’t our behaviour towards them also change? Washing your hands is great, but have you stopped eating chicken?

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How to Overcome Eco-Anxiety in 4 Meaningful Ways

How to Overcome Eco-Anxiety in 4 Meaningful Ways

Do you lose hours of sleep with the news of the burning forests of the Amazon and Australia? Are you overcome with an immense guilt when you forget your produce bags or cotton tote bag at the grocery store? Do you break down in tears when you see images of polar bears stranded on an ice float or koalas with severe burn marks? Or feel helpless at the sheer amount of cars still on the roads?

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of the above, you may have experienced what many are calling eco-anxiety. A growing number of people are suffering from this worldwide, and in 2017 the American Psychological Association first defined it as “a chronic fear of environmental doom.” This fear eventually leads one to believe that the planet will no longer exist due to the never ending realities of floods, wildfires, heat waves, deforestation, increasing sea levels, resource depletion, droughts, and so much more. 

Interestingly, eco-anxiety is experienced differently depending on where in the world you are. For example, for those that live in places that are immediately threatened by climate change - places such as Venice, Miami or The Maldives - anxiety stems from an existential threat. Will I have a home in the future? Will I have to relocate? Where will I go? For those that are in regions where there is no immediate impact - most places in the Northern Hemisphere - anxiety stems from a general unknown. What will happen? What about my children? What will my future look like?

According to a recent Gallup poll, 62% of Americans worry a fair amount on global warming, up from 51% back in 2004. So while there are those that flat out deny climate change is even real, studies suggest that in fact people are increasing their awareness and are starting to pay more attention, and for many getting nervous about it. 

As a result, a new branch of psychology called ecopsychology has emerged in recent decades. Ecopsychology studies the interaction between human health and the natural environment. It claims that our relationship with Earth is critical for our overall well-being, including physical and emotional. A disruption into this relationship causes stress and eco-anxiety.  

So how do we manage the stress, anxiety and depression from the uncertainties that stem from climate change? 

Here are 4 steps to get you started:

  • Lifestyle Changes
    • You’ve probably heard them before, but making meaningful changes to your daily habits will help reduce your carbon footprint. Some to try are: eating less meat and dairy, reusing instead of buying new, driving less, cutting back on flying (take the vacations but opt for more staycations or use public transport to get there).
  • Make your Home Energy Efficient
    • Energy use in homes accounts for 12% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2017.  There are countless ways to make your home more efficient, and to hopefully lower the percentage of greenhouse gas emissions. Some include: better insulation (to avoid drafty windows and doors), using LED lighting, retrofitting your appliances (fridge, toilets, etc) turning down the heat while you’re at work or at night (while sleeping), turning off the AC when you’re not in the room, wearing more layers indoors, and unplugging electronics when not in use. 
  • Become an Unofficial Custodian of Green Spaces Near You 
    • The European Union recently collected data (inspired by the UK’s 2014 MENE study) that found a quantifiable link between nature and well-being. They identified that people who spent 2 hours per week within nature felt better than those that did not. So now that we have a “nature dosage,” how about we all do our part to ensure that these spaces are kept accessible and clean? Some things to consider: sign up for a cleanup day, pick up trash you find and dispose of it properly, report any vandalism you find, etc. 
  • A Collective Problem Requires Collective Solutions
    • Find a community of like-minded people, to share tips and carry the weight of your fears and anxiety together. And once you’ve found this community, start lobbying together! Talk to your politicians - demand that they invest in environmental policies. Change the system! Don’t feel helpless thinking that your individual changes aren’t enough. They are, and they can build a domino effect to inspire and change others. Remember, there is power in numbers!

The goal here is to align your feelings with your actions - understand and acknowledge what you’re feeling. And oh, by the way, feeling concerned about the state of the planet doesn’t make you weak. It is perfectly acceptable to have these thoughts, but acting upon them will help alleviate the weight and ‘burden’ of them. 

There has been lots of noise towards the media for over exposing us to stories of natural disasters, growing populations, resource depletions, and environmental decline. The truth of the matter is that the state of the environment is very important for our overall well-being. And while it may appear that your individual choices have no impact in fighting climate change, your voice resonates loudly. Never before have we been more connected with each other. While you may think no one is listening or watching, they are indeed. Make your voices heard and stand up for Earth!

Are you feeling the pains of eco-anxiety? If so, what ways are you managing these thoughts and what steps are you taking to overcome them? 
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How are deadstock fabrics helping the fashion industry to be more sustainable?

How are deadstock fabrics helping the fashion industry to be more sustainable?

When we sold our first pair of Insecta shoes over 6 years ago, we were equally excited and frightened. We had so many questions and doubts swirling over our thoughts. How will we be able to keep up with demand? Will we be able to differentiate ourselves from other shoe brands? And our favourite, the pièce de résistance, how will we stand up to our peers and fight the industry?

As many of you know, the fashion industry is one of the most resource dependent and polluting industries in the world. In what ways, may you ask?

Well for starters, cotton makes up about 90% of all the natural fibres within the textile industry. The cotton fibre grows from the cotton plant, and as all plants do, they require water - lots of it. To put it into perspective, to create 1 kilogram of cotton requires 10,000 litres of water!

Why is the fashion industry among the highest polluters of the world? According to the World Bank 17-20% of the world’s industrial water pollution is caused by the fashion industry.

How so? Mostly through the dyeing and treatment processes of garments, with water also being used to remove the excess dye in fabrics. The chemicals from these dyes usually make their way back into freshwater sources.

And to make matters worse, several million tons of textiles are sent to landfills every year. In the US alone, 11 million tons of textiles are disposed of.

Why are these textiles sent to landfills? There are several reasons for this, varying from the fashion houses ordering too much fabric or not dyeing a fabric the right colour or textile mills holding onto fabrics that were never sold. 

We wanted to challenge this. We wanted to be different and offer solutions to these problems. Enter deadstock fabric.

Deadstock fabric is essentially these leftover fabrics from a textile mill or a fashion house, but repurposed instead of tossed. For the reasons mentioned above, these fabrics are tossed not because they’re damaged or stained but mainly because there is an over abundance of them. It is important to note here that these fabrics have never been used, it’s what’s called pre-consumer waste. We rescue these fabrics from being thrown in landfills and turn them into the beautiful uppers for our shoes. 

We source these fabrics in a place in Sao Paulo called ‘Banco do Tecido.’ We usually go once a month, where we bring scraps from our own production and with this we receive a credit to “purchase” other fabrics. Once we make our selection, the fabric can be used by approximately 30 pairs of shoes - a limited production of sorts. You can always trust us to carefully seek and source exceptionally high quality fabrics.

This is the scenario we set out from day one. We wanted to diminish the excessiveness and wasteful nature of the fashion industry and we get to do this when we use deadstock fabric within our production.

Instead of these fabrics being tossed to landfills we use them for a different and new purpose. We get a beautiful fabric without adding to the production cycle, we diminish our role in polluting the world, the landfills are less packed, and we are able to create limited edition one of a kind shoes for you. And as a bonus, you get to feel good knowing you were all a part of this.

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The Amazon fires

The Amazon fires

The Amazon fires. There are so many feelings and emotions to process: overwhelmed with the current numbers of climate change; frustration on the emphasis of profits over sustainability; angered by the lack of viable priorities given to our natural environments; burdened by the lack of leadership in our current political climate; depressed about the state of our planet; to name a few.

It is easy to give up, but we strongly encourage you not to.

We wanted to take this opportunity to shed some light on the history of fires in the Amazon.

In the last 50 years, one-fifth of the Amazon has been cut and burned in Brazil. That is about 300,000 square miles (or about 777,000 square kilometres). That is the equivalent in size of two Californias. The years during 2002-2006 were one of the worst years of deforestation. There was a decade of decline following that, but has been slowly increasing once again since 2012. Moreover, within the first months of 2019, deforestation doubled compared to the previous year, according to INPE (The National Institute for Space Research).

Why have there been such vast amounts of land being cut and burned since the mid 1970s? The answer is due to agribusiness, namely livestock raising and more recently soybean plantations. To put it into perspective and to show why ranchers and farmers in Brazil are so aggressive in attaining more land from the Amazon: Brazil is the largest beef exporter in the world, accounting for 19% of the world’s beef. Similarly, Brazil is the second largest producer of soybeans accounting for a staggering 30% of the world’s production. As a side-note, 80% of soybeans are processed for meal, and from that: 97% is used as animal feed (to feed livestock) while the remaining 3% is used for human consumption (soy milk, tofu, etc). 

To conclude, agribusiness is 25% of Brazil’s GDP and it’s usually the engine that drives our economy.

So now you must ask yourself, why is the Amazon so important? Aside from it being one of the most biodiverse and largest rainforest in the world, just within the Brazilian borders it spans a total area the size of India. Secondly, the Amazon behaves like a carbon sink - the process of “removing” carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Plants require CO2 for photosynthesis, much of this carbon dioxide is transferred to the soil when the plant dies and decomposes. When a forest is drastically cut, the carbon dioxide is “released” from the soil/plants and into the atmosphere.

So what is the solution? We need a big picture, “landscape approach” towards this issue.  We need to have all four actors involved: governments, businesses, farmers, and communities (that’s you).

This is more than just a fire in one of the most important and largest rainforests in the world. This is a global seismic shift from the status quo to a mindset of common sense. And through this change, we are unfortunately suffering from lack of strong leadership. Leaders that are willing to step up for the long haul. Who have the vision to understand how choices and policies made today will have positive impact in 5,10, even 50 years down the road. We are 1/4 piece of the puzzle. We wrote above how all actors have to be actively involved. We are the business that care. We’re not greenwashing and using sustainability as a buzz word. We need others to care as much.

Inform yourself, read more, get involved. Be more responsible in your consumption. Try to reduce your animal-based diet as much as you can. Vote consciously. Shop responsibly. Support causes you believe in. Make your voice heard. Be the change. 

With love,


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Sustainable Travel

Sustainable Travel

The most sustainable trip is a staycation. 

We travel for many reasons. To escape our lives. To break from routine. To be different and carefree.

And all of these can be accomplished from anywhere. While it’s amazing to hop on a jet plane and watch sunsets from new mountaintops or sipping wine beachside, not everyone has the budget or time. And let’s get real, airplane travel has a pretty high carbon footprint.

So with that in mind, why not a staycation?

Here are our 5 tips on how to have the perfect staycation - wherever you are!

Tip #1:

Unplug. Turn your regular routine in a new direction. Go for a long morning walk/run. Take an hour or two to eat breakfast. Leisurely read at your own pace. Don’t check work emails and keep your phone off.

Tip #2:

Indulge in a cleaning service. If staying at your home, how about hiring a maid service to professionally clean your home. This will automatically make your place feel more hotel-y and will also diminish the need for you to clean your space. You’re on vacation remember?

Tip #3:

Be intentional. Decide what type of time you want - relaxation, adventurous, gourmand, tourist in your own city, etc. While a staycation does not require hefty planning, figuring out how you want to spend your time will help you enjoy the days much more. A relaxing staycation, could include a spa day with massages or mani-pedis, a new meditative exercise class. Adventurous staycation, could include indoor rock climbing, axe-throwing, kayaking on the lake, and so much more.

Tip #4: 

Set a budget. After having planned what kind of staycation you want (tip #3), try setting a budget on how much you are willing to spend. This will help set your day better, and will also give you total vacation vibes - because we’re always budgeting while on vacation, amirite?

Tip #5:

Take a day trip. Is there a spot near where you live that you’ve always wanted to check out? It could be a conservation park, ski resort, day long spa retreat, or simply a neighbouring town you’ve always been curious about. Now’s the chance. Also by going during your staycation you avoid the weekend rush. We also suggest taking a bus or train that way you can relax while heading there as well.

The bottomline: make an effort for your staycation. Don’t fall into the trap of having one because a) you couldn’t afford a jet-set experience or b) you couldn’t get the full time off. It is very possible to break from your daily routine and be carefree in your own city. Visit those museums or restaurants you’ve always been curious about but never could fit in your busy schedule. And truthfully, staying in a hotel in your own city gives you a completely new perspective. And that’s what a vacation is all about, right? 

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What sets our innovative insoles apart?

What sets our innovative insoles apart?

Bzzz’s the beehive shape!

vegan shoes made from recycled plastic super comfortable

You tell us time and time again how comfy Insectas are. From “it’s like a massage for my feet” to “I feel like I’m walking on clouds!”. We wholeheartedly agree, Insectas are comfy af.

So what makes them so comfy? Well here’s a bit of a humblebrag: it’s due to our innovative and cutting-edge beehive design. 

Every one of our insoles are patterned with a cushy mini-beehive imprint. With roughly 6-10 mini beehives throughout the insole. So instead of a flat insole, ours is textured giving the sensation of a foot massage. 

vegan shoes made from recycled plastic super comfortable

But our innovative design doesn’t stop there. Our insoles are made out of recycled fabric scraps (used to make the uppers) and recycled foam/recycled plastic. This means that the fabric surplus from our production chain produces new insoles. No waste and no design errors! #stepintoacause

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Eco-gentrification: Is Living Greener Getting Inaccessible?

Eco-gentrification: Is Living Greener Getting Inaccessible?

Remember the stereotype of the "environmentalist" - the activist, who gets their hand dirty and lives with few luxuries? At some point along the way, a radical metamorphosis rolled in and that person became an unreachable being, with a perfect life and manicured Instagram feed. What happened to the roots of green life?

Suddenly it appears like you have to have all the trendy products (instead of reusing what you already have), eating and buying goods at expensive places (instead of learning recipes and making more visits to your corner store). This blogger who talks about maternity and sustainability talks about the tiny jars of a full year of waste:  "When I read some zero-waste blogs, I have the distinct feeling that I should give up. When a person tries to inspire me by showing a jar with a year's worth of garbage, I'm ready to give up before I even begin. This is so far from my reality that it discourages me from even considering the goal ". In other words, when it’s down to all or nothing, if you're not eliminating 100% of your waste, it’s better to not even try. And parents know that living completely waste free is a challenge far from being achieved.

Let's ponder over this: why would sustainability be synonymous with wealth when the poorest layers of society suffer most from the impacts of climate change? Access to a more sustainable lifestyle should be egalitarian and equal for all. It seems that the greener life has become something more "ego" than "eco."

A friendly brain tease came out of this post here, which talks about the eco-friendly lifestyle being turned void and elitist. Take a stroll through the city's most affluent neighbourhoods and you'll see green spaces, community gardens, bike paths, organic restaurants and a seemingly beautiful, clean world. But a mere few blocks away you can find a forgotten community; with limited waste collection, sanitation nor access to the most indispensable services. Could it be that bringing green spaces to certain regions of the cities could lead to the expulsion of the people whom one wishes to help? The answer is yes, sometimes it can. These improvements make the neighbourhood more attractive to new entrepreneurs, which eventually drive prices up, while simultaneously forcing low income groups to leave as they are unable to afford the area anymore. That is eco-gentrification in a nutshell.

So then, are improvements to the city bad? They are, if these improvements are superficial. What makes a city (a neighbourhood and a community, that is) more sustainable is to ensure quality of life and environmental quality - for example, bring basic sanitation to a needy neighbourhood, or ensure selective waste collection. This would be a "conscious anti-gentrification," as they mention here . 

It is because of this ‘superficial sustainability’ that many think that living more responsibly is more expensive. As mentioned here , it should not be. There is a misconception that living greener is about buying better products, when in reality being greener is buying less and being more aware. Some actions to take into consideration, such as striving to ensure proper waste collection in your home - recycling vs waste, eating more seasonal fruits and vegetables and enjoy food in a comprehensive manner.

Well, when we talk about it, we cannot leave the price of our shoes aside. We are looking for ways to bring more accessible products without undermining any aspect of our production chain. We understand how making sustainable products more accessible is a win, and this is what we are striving to achieve. ;)

We started the post talking about a new generation that makes sustainability inaccessible, but we cannot stop talking about the people who are there to help change this idea. Here and here we mention who these people are and what initiatives they’re doing that inspire us (worth reading!). Oh, and if you see the price of things as a barrier to veganism or to lead a greener life, our invaluable tip for you is to read this text that lays out the necessary information . 

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Composting: where there’s a will, there’s a way

Composting: where there’s a will, there’s a way

We can’t talk about reducing waste without talking about composting. That’s because it happens to be one of the simplest actions ever, and it can be done by anyone who happens to want to.

You can do it at home, at work, at school, or in a condo, and it's equally doable by those who have gardens and those live in apartment buildings. Simply by composting, we cut household waste practically in half, which, if you think about it, is an incredible feat. Just think about the tons of trash that gets sent to landfills every day (5 thousand tons in São Paulo alone) which could instead be transformed into fertilizer, returning rightfully to the earth rather than causing further environmental problems.

And starting is easy. You can reuse materials, or, if need be, buy ready-made compost. Get more tips in here.

If you want to compost, but for some reason you can’t do it at home or don’t produce enough waste and find your compost remains largely empty, know that there are many outside initiatives thinking about this for you. They all operate with a similar formula: you get a bucket to fill up during the week. Then, they come to you via bike, trade your full bucket for an empty one, and use the communally collected waste to transform into fertilizer for vegetable gardens.

If you're looking to start separating out your waste for composting, remember that:

  • You can include fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, egg shells, pea pods, lard, coffee filters, and tea bags (but don’t forget to remove any labels!).
  • Don’t include meat, dairy products, lemon, strong spices such as garlic, pepper and onions, bones, fish bones, medication, ashes, cigarette butts, liquids, oil, grease, paper towels, hygiene products, or animal waste.

 Learn more about composting here. Get involved and help us contribute to a greener city!


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