Archive for June, 2023

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint, Whenever and Wherever

Posted by pauloneal

If your carbon footprint was visible, you would notice the very floor beneath you overrun by carbon-emitting tracks. You would probably be able to retrace your every step, all the way back to when you got out of bed this morning. You might notice your carbon tracks clustered around your kitchen garbage bin, which you frequently visit, and you might notice they’ve formed a dense mat across your washroom floor, in the same way that steam fogs up a mirror when someone really ought to have gotten out of the shower by now. If your carbon footprint was visible, it would be a frightening sight.

Maybe your carbon footprint really is visible, though. Maybe it’s visible when you struggle to stay on your feet upon seeing your electric bill, or when you begin to wonder if your garbage bins are shrinking.

Whatever your reasons may be for trying to reduce your carbon footprint, the important thing to keep in mind is that there are opportunities to lower your carbon emissions in every aspect of your day-to-day, whether you’re at home, work, or someplace else. Here are a few examples of places and situations in which you can lower your carbon footprint:

In the kitchen

Know the difference between best-before and expiry dates

People commonly misinterpret best-before and expiry dates as being the same. Simply put, an expiration date is the last day that a product is safe to consume, whereas a best-before date marks the day on which a product’s freshness or quality will begin to decline. If you would like to know how long after best-before dates it’s safe to consume certain products, check out this article.

Store fruits and vegetables correctly

Do you often find your fruits and veggies getting rotten unreasonably fast? Fruits and vegetables are among the most commonly discarded foods in households, making them a terribly great contributor to our carbon footprints. One of the main reasons why fruits and vegetables are thrown away so often is because they prematurely expire or lose freshness due to not being stored correctly.

Just like children, certain fruits and vegetables don’t get along and therefore must be separated. Apples, for example, are big bullies: they release a pungent odor that foods like carrots and cabbages are especially susceptible to, causing them to deteriorate at a far faster rate. Take a look at this article to see how else you’ve been subjecting your fruits and vegetables to unsatisfactory living conditions.

Make sure that you store your fruits and vegetables correctly in order to reduce how much food you throw out. More importantly, however, don’t neglect your fruits and veggies: make sure that they have a safe space to flourish before the time comes for you to devour them.

Compost your coffee grounds

You drink coffee. Since you drink coffee, you have a really good opportunity to offset your carbon footprint by composting your coffee grounds! Coffee grounds can go in your compost bin; that little bin that you maybe sometimes forget about because it’s so little.

Composting coffee grounds takes no longer than dumping them in a garbage bin or washing them down a drain, so consider doing it.

If you’ve got some plant pots laying around, you could even blend your coffee grounds into the soil, as coffee grounds contain nutrients that promote plant growth! Don’t just dump the coffee grounds into your plant pots and call it a day, though: do some research to learn which plants actually benefit from coffee grounds as well as how to properly blend coffee grounds into soil so that you don’t end up ruining your plants.

In the washroom

Take shorter or colder showers

Taking short, cold showers is a chilling prospect, which is why this point is titled “take shorter or colder showers,” rather than “take shorter and colder showers”: doing one or the other is far less torturous.

It goes without saying that using less water is more energy-efficient. What you may not know, though, is just how energy-demanding running hot water is. According to Natural Resources Canada, water heating—whether it be for taps, showers, or some other appliance—accounts for around 17% of all energy used in the average Canadian household.

If you aren’t willing to give up warm showers altogether, try to incorporate short or cold showers each week. For example, you could take cold showers after an exercise session, especially if you already took a shower earlier that day.

Cold showers can help reduce muscle soreness, among other things, and thus are a great option after an intense workout session. To avoid shocking your body with freezing cold water, start the shower at lukewarm temperature and then slowly adjust the temperature to make it cooler.

Don’t leave the tap running

This one is super easy. If you’re in the middle of brushing your teeth, don’t leave the tap running. If you’re in the middle of shaving, don’t leave the tap running. If you’re doing your daily skincare routine, don’t leave the tap running. Don’t just leave the tap running because you’ll need the water in about 15 seconds: only run the tap when you are actively using water. That’s it. Easy.

Ditch or reuse single-use products

Individuals who endeavour to lead a more sustainable lifestyle often struggle to make certain aspects of their life eco-friendly due to things that are out of their control: the prevalence of single-use products are one of the biggest hurdles in this regard. While many companies are making the shift from single-use products to recyclable items and packaging, some still have some catching up to do, meaning that people who want to lessen their carbon footprint have to seek out sustainable products.

When buying toiletries such as shampoo and toothpaste, look for items that can be recycled or that have recyclable packaging (or both, ideally).

If you have some single-use bottles and containers lying around, consider reusing them to reduce your waste. For example, you can clean and fill up spray bottles with water to conveniently wet your hair when styling; a much better alternative to running soaking wet hands through your hair or dunking your head under a tap. You can even store your homemade skincare concoctions in containers, such as those that typically contain moisturizers and styling creams.

In the living room

Bundle up instead of turning the thermostat up

You’re sitting on your couch watching TV, and you aren’t having a good time. You would be under normal circumstances, but this isn’t a normal circumstance because you live in Canada and it’s snowing even though it’s March. You’re freezing, and to make it worse, you’re freezing during a time of the year when you shouldn’t be freezing. You’re freezing and you’re annoyed.

You shoot up from your couch and storm over to the thermostat, but just as you’re about to turn the heat up, you remember something. A minute or two later, you return to your couch with a warm blanket and a cup of hot chocolate, and you think to yourself, how silly of me, nearly turning the thermostat up instead of grabbing a blanket. It’s a good thing I remembered that there are alternatives to protecting oneself from the elements that don’t involve increasing my electric bill and putting myself in a financial crisis!

Turn off the lights when you leave the room

While lights don’t contribute nearly as much to electric bills as heating and cooling do, you can certainly save some money and lower your carbon emissions by turning off lights when you leave a room.

In some cases, you may not need to turn on lights at all: living rooms, for example, often have bigger windows and receive a lot of natural lighting. Think about what lights you regularly use in your residence, and consider if all of them are necessary, or if natural lighting or lights pouring in from nearby spaces may suffice in some rooms.

Buy sustainable light bulbs

Swapping out your incandescent and compact fluorescent light bulbs for sustainable light bulbs is a quick and affordable method of diminishing your carbon footprint. If you’ve still got energy-guzzling bulbs, it’s past time to update them.

LED bulbs are simply superior to other light bulbs. In addition to using the least amount of energy, LED bulbs generally have the longest lifespan, so you really can’t go wrong with them.

In the bedroom

Refer to, “In the living room.”

At work

Avoid printing

In the age of digitalization, creating physical documents is becoming a rare practice. While your company may have already made the shift to digital documents, it’s unlikely that physical documents are wholly absent within your workplace.

Look at the aspects of your workplace where physical documents are still required and think about whether they really are required in these aspects. If there are facets of your workplace where you believe printing can be avoided, you could try voicing this opinion to your boss. If you are the boss, you can skip the voicing your opinion part and just go ahead and make the change, since you’re the boss and no one can tell you otherwise, unless they want to get the boot.

If printing really can’t be avoided, consider printing documents as double-sided rather than single-sided. Believe it or not, printing double-sided lowers your paper use by roughly 50%!

Bring lunch to work or walk/cycle to a nearby restaurant

Eating out is one of humanity’s favourite luxuries, so bringing your own lunch to work rather than grabbing a sandwich and overpriced coffee during your lunch break may sound preposterous, but these are the sorts of sacrifices you’ll need to make if you really want to stick it to your carbon footprint.

Alternatively, you could try walking or cycling to nearby restaurants on your break instead of driving to one. This would be a great opportunity to slow down and discover some local joints as well.

Work from home

Long commutes to work are a significant source of carbon emissions and, until quite recently, an unavoidable one. Since the normalization of working remotely due to COVID-19, many employers allow their employees to work from home on occasion. If possible, try incorporating some remote workdays each week to lessen your carbon emissions from driving to work.

Speaking of driving to work…

When travelling to work

Take public transportation

Driving to work is one of the biggest contributors to many people’s carbon footprints, so consider taking public transportation if working remotely isn’t an option.


If you aren’t keen on taking public transportation, try to organize carpools with co-workers. Carpooling with just one other person can reduce carbon emissions by 50% (as you could have probably guessed), and you also get the opportunity to gossip, every office worker’s favourite pastime!

Another option would be to carpool with family members. Even if you don’t work together, you may find similarities in your commutes, such as when you leave and what direction you travel in when heading to work. For instance, a family member can drop you off close to your workplace on their way to work, leaving you to take public transportation the rest of the way.

Bike to work

While taking public transportation and carpooling are great lower carbon-emitting alternatives to driving yourself to work, biking is truly an environmentally friendly mode of transport. If you live close to your workplace, consider ditching your car and taking a bike.

Cycling to work is, of course, a sure-fire way of drastically lessening your carbon footprint. Furthermore, you’ll reap a plethora of health benefits if you regularly cycle to work: just make sure to pack some deodorant.

Before you walk out the door, however, there’s a few things you ought to do:

Before leaving to go to work

Adjust the thermostat

Air conditioning and heating use the most electricity in our homes—nearly half of our energy goes to heating and cooling. If you really want to put a huge dent in your carbon footprint, changing how you use your thermostat would definitely be the way to go about it!

Using your thermostat in a more energy-efficient way doesn’t mean subjecting yourself to blistering heat or numbing cold. Many energy companies recommend adjusting your thermostat by a mere few degrees when you are away from your home. Before you leave to go to work, raise the temperature on the thermostat by a few degrees during the summer, and lower it by a few degrees during the winter.

You can also greatly reduce your electric bills by lowering your thermostat before going to sleep. If you get cold, grab another blanket; if you get warm, ditch blankets altogether.

If you want to go even further, you could set your thermostat lower or higher than usual for an entire day. Compensate for cooler temperature by dressing warmer or throwing a blanket over yourself, and compensate for warmer temperature by losing some layers of clothing—as many as you (and your household members) are comfortable with.

Rather than constantly having to adjust your thermostat throughout the day, you can invest in a programmable thermostat, which will automatically adjust the temperature according to a pre-set schedule.

Unplug electronics that are not in use

Unplugging devices and appliances before you leave to go to work—or anywhere, even—is another one of the easier ways to lower your carbon emissions while also saving money. Contrary to popular belief, electronics don’t “lose” energy when they aren’t plugged into a socket. Many electronics do, however, drain energy when plugged in, even if they are turned off. The electricity sucked up by devices and appliances during this vampiric process is known as a phantom load. Phantom loads are responsible for unnecessary and easily avoidable expenses: by simply unplugging computers, microwaves, and other electronics, you can save upwards of $100 each year!

Turn off lights around the house

Before you head out the door, make a mad dash around your house and turn off all the lights you may have left on. You’re not home, so there’s really no point in leaving them on.

Some people, however, like to leave one light on in the foyer or near the front entrance to either deter burglars (because burglars are terrified of lights) or so that when they return from work, they don’t open their doors to a scary black abyss. Unless you have an actual reason to leave a light or two on, take the extra few seconds to turn off all your lights.

When going on vacation

Maybe don’t go on vacation. Or consider going somewhere close so that you don’t have to fly there. If you really, really, want to fly to someplace nice, such as the sweeping fjords of Norway or the cobblestone streets of Rome, nobody can stop you, and you probably deserve a nice getaway anyways.

Being on vacation, however, doesn’t give you an excuse to temporarily halt your quest to vanquish your carbon footprint. Continue as many of your environmentally friendly practices as possible, such as turning off the lights before you leave your hotel or Airbnb and taking shorter or colder showers.


Reducing your carbon footprint and living a more eco-friendly life doesn’t mean you have to make drastic lifestyle changes. Actions as little as switching out your lightbulbs for energy-efficient ones often make a big impact, so don’t feel pressured to make major, jarring changes to the way you live your life in an attempt to be more sustainable.

It’s also important to note that many of the points listed in this post overlap with other settings and scenarios: for example, you can try taking public transportation in general, not exclusively when going to work.

Take a moment to examine every aspect of your life—your homelife, workplace, shopping habits, and so on—and think about ways you can lessen your carbon footprint. You could set some sustainability goals, like taking shorter showers, and you can even measure your success by observing the differences in your electric bills, as well as using other methods of tracking progress.

Good luck on your journey to reducing your carbon footprint!

Words by: Liam Basi

Fibre Lids, Paper Straws, and Outrage: Why We Aren’t Ready for Climate Action

Posted by pauloneal

In early 2023, Tim Hortons will be rolling out new cutlery, packaging, and lids across Canada. Recyclable fibre lids and wooden cutlery are among the changes they are making in an attempt to eliminate single-use plastics and reduce waste in general.

Tim Hortons has already begun trials of the hot beverage fibre lids in Vancouver, and the response has been mixed, to say the least. While some people have applauded the coffee giant for their innovation in the name of environmental sustainability, others have amassed on Twitter with pitchforks and torches in hand.

The complaints, ranging from lids getting soggy to coffee being infused with a horrible flavour, can be summed up by the following widespread notion: “worse than paper straws.”

With so many Canadians in an uproar over this change despite its eco-friendly nature, the question as to whether humanity is prepared to deal with climate change must be asked.

And the answer is no. If people are adamant on keeping plastic straws and lids because paper and fibre ones are a bit inconvenient, then the answer is definitely, without a shadow of a doubt, no.

Of course, not everyone who dislikes these changes is unwilling to address climate change. Many have argued that the new lids are a poor alternative, and that Tim Hortons should try to come up with a better alternative that doesn’t compromise convenience. This is reasonable. Some people, however, care not for environmental sustainability and simply long for the superior plastic straws and lids. That is not reasonable.

The real question, then, is why? Why, despite most people knowing that climate change is a legitimate problem, are so many of us reluctant to act or make sacrifices for the good of our world? In order to get to the bottom of this question, a deep dive into the human mind is required.

Tomorrow’s Problem

Many people lack a sense of urgency, believing climate change to be a problem of the distant future. This mindset, common amongst people who say things such as, “I’ll get to that tomorrow,” or “I’ll do it later,” or “that’s ages away!” is perhaps the main cause of our inaction towards addressing this crisis.

Think about a time when you had a final exam coming up. A month before the exam, you might have thought, I’ve got all the time in the world to study, and promptly decided to binge watch a TV show. This is essentially the attitude some people have towards climate change. Now, recall the week before the exam, when you were likely thinking, I really should have started studying earlier. This will be the attitude towards climate change in the (not so distant) future when we realize that we probably should have been doing something about the crisis a little earlier.

A girl falling asleep when she really ought to be studying for her exam.
Photo by: CollegeDegrees360/CC BY-SA 2.0

The construal level theory may help explain this phenomenon of putting things off, whether its not taking action to combat climate change because it seems like a distant problem, or watching YouTube videos instead of working because there are funny dog videos that you haven’t seen yet.

The construal level theory suggests that our understanding and opinions of things depends on how psychologically distant (in terms of space, time, etc.) the thing is to us. For example, if you were to make plans for a summer vacation, your plan would likely differ depending on if the vacation is happening in a week versus a year.

This theory may suggest, then, that the severe lack of action towards dealing with the climate crisis is due to it being psychologically distant in many people’s mind.

…If only the answer was that simple.  In reality, people’s reluctance to deal with climate change is far more complicated and has a lot to do with the way the issue is communicated to the public.

Ejelöv et al., who conducted a study on the construal level theory in relation to climate change, found that people feel basic emotions, such as fear, more intensely when something is psychologically proximate to them. Conversely, they found that people feel self-conscious emotions, such as guilt, more intensely when something is psychologically distant.

With scientists and governments focusing on making climate change feel more immediate, they are neglecting to appeal to people’s self-conscious emotions: emotions such as shame and guilt that sully our morality and compel us to act. This failure to effectively communicate the climate crisis is largely to blame for the absence of urgency. It is also to blame for the consequential reaction of the public, being something along the lines of, “sounds pretty serious, someone should probably do something about it.”

Ejelöv et al. proposed that communication surrounding climate change would be more likely to spur action if it appealed to both basic emotions and self-conscious emotions, rather than solely relying on basic emotions.

Emotional Heart, Logical Brain

Other studies delve further into this notion of appealing to emotions in order to encourage climate action: they suggest that emotions are actually a greater motivator than logic!

In one such study, it was concluded that a failure to engage both the emotional and rational brain is to blame for inaction. Furthermore, the study determined that while appealing to the rational brain with facts makes people believe that there is a crisis, appealing to the emotional brain with forms of communication such as personal storytelling is what motivates individuals to act.

Another study came to a similar conclusion, stating that the lack of urgency is the result of inadequate personal and emotional involvement with the subject—people are unwilling to adjust their lifestyles for a cause they can barely relate to or sympathize with.

It seems that there is a consensus that presenting evidence is a poor motivator, and that emotions are the key to spurring climate action.

If Star Trek taught us anything, it is that problems can only be effectively solved through the joining of logic and emotions. Spock’s reasoning was always logical, but his lack of morals would often result in his decision-making being at the detriment of others. Bones, the doctor of the USS Enterprise, was concerned about doing the morally right thing above all else, but his highly emotional state would cloud his judgement from time to time. Captain Kirk, however, possessing both the reasoning of Spock and the morals of Bones, always knew how to best resolve issues. Be more like Kirk.

Are We Doomed?

It’s clear that we need to change our method of communicating climate change if we want to see real change, and if we want to steer away from this destructive course we are currently on.

If you recall, the standardization of paper straws was sparked after a video of a plastic straw being removed from a turtle’s nostril surfaced. Essentially, an emotional situation which triggered an outcry led to paper straws, not facts about single-use plastics and their negative impact.

It’s the responsibility of the government, then, to better engage people in caring about this pressing issue. In order to do this, they must engage people’s emotions, notably self-conscious ones. Rather than just going on about how immediate the consequences of climate change are to spread fear and worry, the government should communicate how these consequences will affect the future generations to make individuals feel ashamed for throwing the burden of climate action onto their children and grandchildren.

Having said that, the public also has a responsibility to stop putting climate change off, and to hold the government to the same standard. After all, policy changes in favour of climate action will only happen if the people demand them and see their governments following suit themselves.

Words by: Liam Basi

6 Alternatives to Throwing Away Furniture

Posted by pauloneal

Whether you’re moving, relocating your office, or finally mustering up the motivation to do something about that outdated sofa you said you were going to do something about ages ago, there comes a time when you’ll have to get rid of some furniture.

If you’re thinking about throwing away a piece you no longer want, stop (unless it is in such a state of disrepair that it can’t be salvaged in any form). Instead, we urge you to think about furniture waste, and how bad the whole thing is, to deter you from throwing it away. Refer to the paragraph below if you require assistance with developing this thought:

Furniture waste is on the rise. One of the big reasons why is due to the pandemic: renovation booms, companies throwing away all their office furniture as they opt to go virtual, and other factors brought about by COVID-19 have all contributed to this rise in f-waste. Additionally, the persisting trend of fast furniture—that is, cheaply-made furniture not built to last (you may be familiar with this)—results in massive amounts of furniture being thrown away not long after it’s been bought.

Take a look at that piece of furniture you no longer want, and consider if it can be used by others, or if it can provide a use other than its intended one (we’ll get to this latter point later). Rather than tossing it and contributing to the waste stream, ponder these alternative options:

  1. Recycle
  2. Donate or Give Away
  3. Sell Online
  4. Hold a Garage Sale
  5. Restore
  6. Upcycle

1. Recycle

When you think about the sorts of things you can recycle, furniture likely isn’t one of the first that comes to mind; however, it is in fact possible to recycle—some—furniture.

There are recycling facilities that accept furniture, including us at Canadian Mattress Recycling Inc. Despite what our name may imply, we actually do recycle furniture too—head over to our website to see what types of furniture we accept.

You may also be able to recycle your unwanted furniture through your city’s recycling depot; some towns even do pick-ups for your convenience.

2. Give Away or Donate

Giving away or donating furniture may be the easiest way of getting rid of unwanted furniture: after all, not many people would pass up on the opportunity to get their hands on free or affordable furniture, as long as it’s in decent condition!

Perhaps you want to declutter your house, starting with that hand-me-down armchair in the corner of your living room that no amount of wishful thinking will convince you matches the rest of your furniture; or maybe your office is relocating, leaving you with a whole bunch of office chairs. Whatever the case, an unwanted piece of furniture may be wanted by a friend or family member—it doesn’t hurt to just ask!

Donating your furniture is another great option, and one that would probably make you feel really good about yourself, which is a nice feeling. Many thrift stores accept furniture, as well as Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores, which can be found in many parts of the world, including Canada and the U.S.

Fort Myer Thrift Shop.

Some other options of giving away furniture are through The Freecycle Network, a non-profit movement dedicated to providing people with an easy means to share goods for free with others in their city; Facebook Marketplace; and the “free stuff” category in Craigslist.

Whether you’re giving away or donating your furniture, make sure to clean the furniture as best you can in order to make it as appealing as possible. Additionally, take high-quality photos with good angles and lighting if you plan to sell or give away your furniture online.

3. Sell Online

Getting rid of furniture doesn’t need to be an unprofitable endeavour: you can use it as an opportunity to make a bit of money by selling it rather than giving it away.

There are dozens of online marketplaces where you can sell your used furniture. Here are just a few of them:

As is the practice when selling anything online, be wary of scammers. And be patient because sometimes it just takes time.

4. Hold a Garage Sale

With the right advertising and presentation, a garage sale can be a sure-fire way of getting rid of loads of furniture, among other possessions.

While garage sales don’t reach as wide an audience as selling online, they allow you to channel your inner salesperson and persuade individuals to buy your unwanted possessions. Furthermore, hosting a garage sale could be a great way of getting your weekly dose of social interactions in if that’s something you’re lacking.

To avoid the dreaded “no turnout,” you should publicize the garage sale at least a few days ahead of time—social media posts, ads in your local newspaper, putting up signs around your neighbourhood, and so on—as well as choose a good day and time. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings are the best times to hold garage sales, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to schedule them for the first weekend of the month either, as that’s when a lot of people get their paychecks.

The way you display your furniture is important as well, as people driving by will be less likely to check your garage sale out if it looks like you flung your stuff out through your bedroom window and onto the lawn.

A garage sale with the items clearly and neatly displayed.

Another thing to keep in mind is your primary goal: if the main purpose of the garage sale is to get rid of your furniture, be willing to negotiate and sell items for a bit lower than you’d like if need be.

Garage sales are an effective method of getting rid of large quantities of possessions, however, if you only have a few things to clear out, consider other options. Or ask to join in on a neighbor’s garage sale!

5. Restore

Restoring furniture is a quick and easy way of extending its lifespan, while also adding personality to it.  In an age where paint exists, there should be no reason to throw out a piece of furniture that has merely suffered a little cosmetic damage.  If the paint of, say, a chair has been chipped, a new coat of paint may be all that’s needed for that chair to be let out of the basement to rejoin its kin in the dining room.

If, however, you’ve got a piece of furniture that is in such a terrible state that it’s on the brink of flatlining, you may need to put a little more work in to save it. Reupholstering, the process of changing the fabric of an item, can be enough to bring a dreary piece of furniture back to life.

Let’s say you can’t be bothered to do either of those things. That’s fine. Though at the very least, it shouldn’t be too herculean of a task to enhance your furniture by simply buying pillows, throwing blankets over them, or even getting a slipcover to stretch over them. Restoring furniture really can be as simple as that.

6. Upcycle

If you’re willing to spare the time and resources, upcycling could be a fun and useful alternative to throwing out a piece of furniture. Upcycling is the process of taking an item—usually one that has lost its use or beauty—and transforming it to give it a new, often greater function or appeal. Refer to the photo below for an example of upcycling:

A repurposed stool that has been made into a plant stand and tray.

Upcycling is an opportunity to turn something useless or unwanted into something practical or pleasing. While upcycling might sound like quite the undertaking, it can be as simple as turning a plastic water bottle into a plant pot—you’ll likely find all the resources you need around your house, and it’s no more than a few minutes of work.

Here are some ways to upcycle furniture:

If the thought of putting in all that effort to upcycle entire pieces of furniture makes you even more inclined to throw your furniture away, you can upcycle certain materials from your furniture instead. For example, you can remove the filling from the cushion of a broken armchair and use it to stuff a sofa that’s sunken in your favourite spot over the years.


We live in an age where producing hundreds of pounds of waste each year—per person—is normal. When we really pay attention to the waste we accumulate, however, it becomes abundantly clear that a lot of it can be easily avoided.

The idea of finding solutions to getting rid of furniture other than throwing it in landfills is one that most people don’t even think about, and many people who do think about it wish they hadn’t thought about it, and then promptly send their furniture to a landfill.

It’s easy to throw away a ragged sofa you’ve had for 10 years and then call it a day. But imagine how many more years you could get out of that sofa if you decided to refinish or reupholster it. Imagine the amount of use someone else could get out of that sofa if you decided to donate it (if you aren’t keen on restoring or upcycling, maybe they are). Doing such things is both cost-effective and environmentally friendly.

There’s no shame in throwing furniture away, of course; however, we hope the takeaway from this post is that throwing furniture away should be a last resort, rather than your first action.

Words by: Liam Basi

Discovering My Destination: My Co-op Work Term at CMRI

Posted by pauloneal

Everyone has a destination upon leaving school—an end goal before your next chapter in life—and I discovered mine during my time at Canadian Mattress Recycling Inc.

I vaguely recall stumbling upon CMRI’s job posting for a technical writer position during a turbulent period of sleepless nights and incessant worry and doubt, which is to say, during my job search last year. I remember all the misconceptions I had about technical writing at the time, which tempted me to scroll past the job posting.

Prior to discovering the job posting, I had done some surface-level research on technical writing to see if it was for me. After my research, I thought to myself, do I really want to spend the next few decades of my life writing manuals no one will ever read, and learning complex things so that I’m qualified to write manuals about those complex things? No, I decided, and that was that. Definitely not for me.

The problem, however, was that the longer I stared at the technical writer job posting, the more I thought, maybe? You see, I’ve enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember: it’s actually one of, if not the only thing that I can confidently say I’m at least competent at.

Realizing this, I decided to take a chance and apply for the position, and it was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. My co-op work term at CMRI was as enjoyable as it was educational.

I was tasked with creating user manuals for the warehouse operations, which would serve as useful training materials for new employees learning how to perform the procedures and operate the machinery.

Throughout my work term, I learned that technical writing is a multifaceted occupation that requires creativity when designing technical documents, as well as critical thinking skills when figuring out how to format documents, what information to include, how to make that information crystal clear, and so on. Essentially, I learned that technical writing is a far cry from the mundane and monotonous occupation I had imagined it to be.

In addition to this experience convincing me to pursue a career in technical writing, it made me feel like I was doing something meaningful.

CMRI is a company that goes above and beyond to make Canada greener. Besides the millions of pounds of mattresses and furniture that they’ve recycled and kept out of landfills, CMRI also supports communities and charities through generous donations, as well as schools and animal shelters by donating useful materials.

The efforts CMRI makes to achieve sustainability and support communities make me genuinely proud to work here. My time at the company has also provided me with valuable work experience that will aid me when I finish school and step out into the “real world.”

To say that I’ve learned a lot about technical writing is an understatement, and to say it is an understatement is an understatement within itself. What I mean is that I went from knowing nothing about technical writing to knowing everything (that you would expect a junior technical writer to know).

The most important thing I’d like to convey to you, however, is just how much CMRI has done for me and why I will forever be grateful to them: they helped me find my career path, my destination. I realize that I briefly mentioned this a few paragraphs above, but I feel that I merely brushed past this point and should probably do a better job to emphasize it, because it really is a fairly important point now that I think about it.

Now finishing my second work term with CMRI, I’ve been reflecting on my time here and—in truth—I could not have asked for a better opportunity. Everyone at the company has been wonderful and immensely helpful (and patient, for being able to endure my unrelenting barrage of questions I direct at them on a regular basis).

After completing my second work term, I will be returning to school to pursue my major in Communication and minor in English, and after that, hopefully beginning my long and prosperous career as a Technical Writer.

Words by: Liam Basi