For the past year I´m trying to minimize the trash I produce. But somehow I would still find an excuse for some things that are too hard to do. For instance, I live in a mountain town and there are no shops here that offer bulk products. Not even nuts and dry fruits like I can even find in my small island Hvar shop. So I still buy oats, some fruits and veggies in plastic. And that´s why I decided that I will dig deeper and go on a “7 days of Zero Waste”. I admire everybody living a Zero Waste life and I can´t tell you enough how much I hate plastic so it´s was about time I align my beliefs with my actions!
If you are a bit older you might remember that everything used to be sold in bulk, paper bags, glass bottles and jars. Then slowly plastic came along and big soda manufacturers realized that the costs of producing and cleaning the bottles are actually higher than the soda itself, so they started using plastic. Manufacturers even promoted this change by advertising convenience of throwing an empty plastic bottle away. So after this it all went south …. or unfortunately, it all went into the sea.
So around 50 years later we have this:
- more than 70 percent of the plastic we produce is either put in a landfill or lost to the world’s waterways and other infrastructure.
- Each person in Europe is currently producing, on average, half of ton of waste. Only 40 % of it is reused or recycled and in some countries more than 80% still goes to landfill (source: Environmental Data Centre on Waste, Eurostat).
- By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans.
- If the oceans dies, we all die!
So what can we do?
Stop buying or taking free plastic, start reusing what you have and start taking responsibility for your trash-recycle.
Two ladies that inspired me are Bea Johnson and Lauren Singer. The only thing I would of course change in their lifestyle is going vegan. Unfortunately, the meat industry is #1 cause of pollution today. You can read some facts about it right here.
1. Bea Johnson from Zero Waste Home. She´s living this lifestyle since 2008, so she has all the tips and tricks we need.
2. Lauren Singer gained a lot of attention with her blog Trash is for tossers. She gives great speeches about Zero Trash life and she even started her own Simply Co. line of organic & vegan cleaning products.
Get to know your trash
My trash was mostly fruit and vegetable packaging, cans, TetraPak, tissues, other plastic food packaging. I checked the signs on plastic to see if it´s recyclable and checked also with my local recycling facility which plastic they accept. Good news is that a lot of plastic can be recycled here.
My town has a recycling for plastic, glass, paper and of course compostable bio-waste. But first I want to avoid buying/getting plastic in the first place and the rest can be recycled if needed.
Get zero waste essentials
I´m obsessed with jars and cotton bags , so lots of them can be found around my home. I just had to dig them out wash them and I´m ready to go shopping. If you don´t have any at home, just start buying products in jars instead of plastic. You can also buy some cool jars in Ikea (package free). You can also make cotton bags from old sheets or T-Shirts or grab them at Ikea.
When it comes to my daily life I
- carry around my Mizu bottle
- pack lunch in a glass food container
- use travel coffee mug
- have cotton bags for shopping
- made cotton tissues from old T-shirts
- started using my microfiber cloth to clean my make-up
- bought Luna menstrual cup
- washed my hair with rye flour and I have to work on this one a bit, before it really works right for me. My hair felt really dry, but shiny and clean.
- use biodegradable earbuds
- use cotton cloths and towels instead of paper
- use coconut oil instead of body lotion, make-up removal, ….
Here is the whole list of things you can get instead of plastic. They look way better, last longer and don´t end are recyclable or biodegradable.
“Please keep in mind that throwing out an old item for one of the items I have listed is not a good alternative. Use up old products, recycle, donate, give away or sell the rest! The purpose of Zero Waste is to prevent as much matter from heading to the landfill as possible!” Lauren Singer
Time to go zero waste shopping
My options here in small Schladming (Austria) are not big, but it could be worse. There are 5 basic shops (Billa, Hofer, Spar,…), 2 smaller bio shops (Biochi, Bioladen Liebstöckel), Eurogast- a big shop that sells bulk products for restaurants and hotels (unfortunately in plastic bags) and Farmer´s market once a week (on the list for next week). If you know some good bulk shops in Salzburg please let me know, I found 2-3 that I will go and check out.
So if you live around Schladming area or you plan to visit it, here is my experience:
- Eurogast is great for fruits and veggies, most of them are a lot cheaper and better than any other shop. So happy to find bananas and apples that they offer. And I had no problems shopping without plastic bags and packaging. Most of the veggies and fruits and sold in boxes. Unfortunately, all other products are sold in big plastic packaging and are not cheaper from small shops.
- Biochi has a great selection of bio and vegan products and also fresh local veggies and fruits. I got some delicious potatoes, huge beans, carrots, spinach mmmm all package free. They also have a restaurant with great vegan food. I was happy to see that they reuse boxes from packaging to pack all products for customers, instead of using bags. But I came prepared with my cotton bags.
- I didn´t buy anything in Bioladen Liebstöckel, because I couldn´t find any prices and the veggies look a bit sad already.
- You can get some fruits and veggies without packaging in all other shops in the area, but unfortunately, most of bio fruits and veggies are packed in plastic. So I will not buy them as long as they keep doing that.
- I went to locals that sell strawberries or potatoes and they were all happy to put it in my glass container and use their plastic packaging for next client. I would prefer they don´t use them at all, but maybe I can inspire them to go back to paper bags.
Here is my package-free shopping from Biochi. And I know this isn´t a lot of food, but the next day was a bank holiday here, so there were not that many veggies left. But I´m still happy with my shopping.
Anybody that knows me knows that I´m constantly trying to get rid of clothes and other things from my flat. Friends that visit usually walk out of the door with at least one “gift”. But please don´t come knocking on my door now. Although if you need some snowboarding equipment or snowboard clothes let me know :)
I put aside all the clothes I want to donate and I haven´t bought any clothes for at least 2 months. I even returned damaged shoes for reclamation and got my money back.
The only thing I took this week is a goodie bag from Girls Shred session where I help coaching girls on Saturday. But just so I can give you a chance to win them right here. I also had to take a ski pass to go on Dachstein glacier, but I was positively surprised when I realized they switched to paper passes. Not sure what I can do with the chip that was in the ticket, so the chip had to go in my trash jar.
I stopped all junk mail a while ago by simply writing a note on my mailbox “No advertising material, no junk mail, no free newspapers” and I´m junk-mail-free for already 6 months.
So just refuse any free advertising material, catalogs, straws, decoration, coasters, napkins and other trash they might offer you, they will end up in your trash sooner or later.
Final results of my Zero Waste week
And I´m happy to say that this is all our trash from this week. And I´m talking about 3 adult people here. Most of it was in the house before I decided to go Zero Waste. Some plastic, cans and paper went to recycling. I´m proud of us and I hope this inspired you to become more responsible and to think before you buy or throw anything away. Ask yourself “Can it be reused, repurposed, donated, recycled?”
I went on Zero Waste for 7 days, but I will keep living it for the rest of my life, because I …
- Do less harm to the environment
- Have less clutter
- Eat healthier, local vegetables and fruits
- Have healthier home without toxic detergents and other products
- Make my own products instead of buying them (from food to cleaning products)
- Gain new skills and knowledge
- Connect with like-minded people
- Stand up for what I believe in
- Save money
- Hopefully, I will inspire you to do the same
Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Rot, Recycle