The five rs and building zero waste

The five Rs and building zero waste


You may have heard of the term Zero Waste, but what exactly does it mean? Zero Waste is a philosophy which encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The end goal is our society no longer sends trash to be buried or burned but to be repurposed and reused for others to use. This framework is designed not just for consumers, but for all levels of society, including municipalities. An example is Vancouver’s commitment to become the first Zero Waste Canadian city by 2040.

Our cities goal has become one of our inspirations for our own goal: To become a 100% Zero Waste company. In the 14 years AspenClean has been offering residential home cleanings in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto, 27,000 plastic bottles each year are saved because of our commitment to environmental sustainability and reusability. This includes our commitment to 100% biodegradable products which have no negative impact on our environment.

We all know the 3 R’s of recycling, but Zero Waste takes this one step further by adding two additional R’s. 

The 5 R’s of Building Zero Waste are:


Learn to say no. Say no to free products. No to plastic wraps. No to disposable products like tupperware, plastic bottles, giveaway bags and pamphlets. The more we use these, the more demand there is and the more will end up in a landfill. This behavior increases production of harmful chemicals, higher rates of deforestation, and questionable and unethical sourcing of materials. Switch to plastic free  laundry detergent.

Given a business card? Take a picture of it. Buying groceries? Go to a farmer’s market where there’s no industrial packaging. Don’t need it? Don’t take it.

The first step really does come from just saying no.


We all have things we never use. Look into your closest and have an honest conversation about the last time you wore that lime green rain jacket you won. Think of how you sustain your home and what you can reduce while doing it. Think about all the specialized health and beauty products you own which can be replaced with simple cooking oils, like sunflower, olive and coconut.

Using cleaning sprays? Purchase a concentrate like AspenClean All-In-One which creates 40 bottles and saves the use of new plastic. (Learn how to clean with a natural all purpose concentrate cleaner from our other articles). Overuse of anything is harmful for the environment and for your wallet.


Disposable things are, well, disposable. They need to be thrown away, and then repurchased. Eliminate all the disposables that walk into your life, whether it be from the grocery store or tinder.

Want to reduce your carbon footprint when cleaning? Reuse your bottles and make your own cleaning sprays. Look for products packaged in 100% post-consumer resin (like natural cleaning products we just upgraded to). Do you use paper towels or napkins? Replace them with cloths, specifically microfibre cloths. These last forever and will take a chunk out your carbon footprint. Shopping at the grocery store? Use biodegradable bags, like our AspenClean shoppers that you can use multiple times and break down naturally at the end of its lifecycle. AspenClean cleaning services use microfiber cleaning cloths and reuse all their cleaning bottles, saving tens of thousands of plastic bottles every year. Choose a cleaning service that strives towards zero waste.


If you’ve been Refusing, Reducing and Reusing, there shouldn’t be much left at this point. Regardless, make sure you have everything sorted correctly in your bins. By mixing, or improperly sorting, materials you directly cause contamination in the recycling process which is a major issue in the process. The extra step is always worth it.


Food waste is a major issue in our world. Take your compost one step further and create a worm bin that lets your waste be turned into high quality fertilizer. It’s the most efficient, and greenest way to eliminate what you no longer need.

Zero Waste is an attainable goal and we’re proud to be committed to achieving this goal as a company and as a part of society. 

To learn more more tips on "how to live a more eco-friendly life" read our guide!

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