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Four bags of garbage in three years: How a busy Vancouver couple lives and preaches the low-waste lifestyle

Jul 18, 2019

When Elisabeth Ormandy and Oliver Giving visited family in England two years ago, they brought back an unusual souvenir: a bag of recyclables most people would have just thrown away.

It wasn’t easy for the Vancouver couple to recycle near Wigan, a town west of Manchester, because it doesn’t have a recycling system like those available in Canada, Ormandy explained. When she lived in Edinburgh as a student, she would walk more than a kilometre to recycle rather than throw paper, plastics and glass into the garbage.

Ormandy and Giving are busy professionals who both often work more than 60 hours a week, but they have all the time in the world for their low-waste mission.

“It’s about having as small of an impact on the planet as we can so it’s still here for us to enjoy,” said Ormandy, executive director of the Animals in Science Policy Institute, a Vancouver charity that provides education on alternatives to animal testing in Canada. Giving owns the wellness studio Tone Pilates in False Creek.

Compelled by dire news reports on the climate crisis and its effect on wildlife and marine life, they decided one way they could help save the planet was to produce less garbage.

“We’ve got an environmental problem here, which most people would agree with, and rapid consumerism is a part of that problem,” said Giving. “It just makes sense.”

Both were actively reducing waste before they met in 2014, but Ormandy admitted that Giving’s commitment to a low-waste lifestyle motivated her to be more “diligent.”

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