Have you ever heard of zero waste? Probably yes, because this is a topic of discussion nowadays. Also a topic that makes people act on it, fortunately.
Zero waste, which literally means to prevent creation of waste, is both a trend and a concept. Or even a lifestyle if we can put it that way. Zero waste is a way of life created for us to learn how to minimize the waste we produce instead of learning how to recycle.
If we have to be honest, we need to say that an absolute “zero” amount of waste is impossible to be reached, or shall we mention – quite difficult too if societies generally do not follow this concept. What is possible though is the beginning – we can start now and do as much as our will and circumstances allow us. Oceans, seas, mountains, just nature in general deserves this effort, to say the least!
You will most probably will say that one swallow does not make the summer, which we confirm as a truth but we say that each and every swallow matters. Many, many swallows do make a flock, right? Here is why we decided to share with you a few ideas to incorporate in your everyday life to help you join the flock of eco-friendly people, who believe that they can change the carbon footprint humanity leaves on Earth.
Look at my tote!
Each person on this planet uses on average 376 plastic bags per year. Can you imagine how many of these plastic bags are being used in just one city then? How about one whole country? Or a continent? The number is not just close to thousands, it surpasses tens of thousands of millions… So, back to these 376 plastic bags – when you do the math, you will realize that this number means that a regular person sometimes uses more than one bag a day. How do we even let this happen? How many plastic bags do you leave the supermarket caring? Maybe you use two big ones for all the groceries? For the most part – this is exactly what you do. But keep in mind that if you pass by the fruit and vegetable station and you grab a couple of apples, carrots and tomatoes, you will end up using many more polyethylene bags. So at the end you will go home having as much waste in your hands as the food you have brought. Well, if you would like to quit generating plastic junk, you may as well get your hands on a tote bag made out of textile material.
There are many different types and sizes of these tote bags – the most common of them are made of natural fabrics like cotton and/or leather. A big advantage of these bags is the chance to express yourself through a quote, picture, or a company logo… anything you can think of may be stamped on your tote bag. And yes, it is an invaluable accessory!
We must pay special attention also to the famous net bags. They were familiar to our grandmothers and moms about 30 years ago and yet today these bags promise to remain available on the market specifically for shopping at the market! As people who have gone through the initial struggle of switching to textile tote bags, we must warn you not to forget your bag. Also, be patient and if you do forget your tote, go back home and get it. When you are at the store stay focused and politely explain to the cashiers that you don ot need plastic bags even though they come for free. Yes, you will then find yourself in a battle – you will have the cashier say something like “But come on, the plastic bags are free and you can re-use them at home”. Please do not! You do not need free plastic junk to re-use at home, say no to polyethylene bags with a smile on your face and kindly explain to the staff at the store why you are not in need of the latter. You owe this to nature, we all do!
Water will save the world
150 plastic bottles and 162 one-time cups per year – this is the amount used by each European citizen according to statistics. “Well, it’s not that much” – you may think of that but in fact, it is an unacceptably huge amount. Bottle after a bottle throughout the years means tons of waste. A huge quantity of plastic junk is accumulated even though we do have free access to drinking water, but despite this fact we still create unnecessary amount of garbage. We can choose instead a more sustainable way to temporarily store water – glass and steel bottles with different capacity and design come in handy. So how come plastic bottles are still being used given the condition of our environment?
Think about it – even if you already have a steel or glass bottle, and maybe you have a lot of friends following your example, there are still too many others who use significantly bigger plastics bottles to store more than 5 liters of water. For instance, many companies have water delivered in huge plastic tubes and thus they limit your chance of sustainable living, because you will still be pouring water in your glass bottle from a plastic tube dispencer.
One-time cups are another serious problem for our modern society. Wonder why? It turns out that the so-called “paper cup” actually has a tissue layer of polyethylene in its interior, thanks to which it is thermally resistant and does not fall apart when we pour liquids in it. What we can do is simply stop using one-time cups and just bring our own water storage, maybe a bamboo cup instead of a paper one. There are really cool designs that easily fit in your lifestyle and your bag. And yet another incentive is that many pubs and coffee spots are offering a discount if you take your own cup to have your drink served in it. Have we succeeded in persuading you to become a proud owner of a bamboo cup yet?
First you drink it, then you eat it
You think straws are only suitable for children? Maybe, but you will be surprised at how many adults prefer a straw for their juice, frappe or smoothie. And if you do not refuse to use a plastic straw at a bar or elsewhere, the staff will bring one to you. That is why plastic straws are at the forefront of pollutants. Fortunately, an alternative has been invented so that you do not have to completely give up using a straw. Just like everything else, choose a different material! Reusable straws are available in several varieties – glass, metal, bamboo, wheat – these do not cause any pollution. Also, have you ever drunk an orange juice and eaten your wheat straw after that? We did not think so.
Thanks for being here for us, bamboo
Regarding the packaging (and the composition of cosmetics in general) unfortunately, there are still very few alternatives on the territory of our country that can replace the standard plastic tubes and cans. What is becoming trendier in particular, is the bamboo toothbrush. Or shall we say a brush with bamboo handles? The natural material, from which these brushes are made, allows them to be absolutely degradable after they have fulfilled their service. The bamboo toothbrush is another easy and fast step that we take today. The price is not higher than that of a normal plastic brush, but the feeling you get when you renew your brush every three months, knowing that you will not leave another negative footprint on the environment, is priceless.
New place, new life
It is super easy for us to live sustainably at home or when we have our reusable glasses, straws and bottles. But what happens when we decide to go to a restaurant? How is the food packed before it reaches our plate and where does all this waste go? Can you imagine how big it is after a family celebration, for example? The answer will not please you either! Do not lose hope, more and more locations around the world are being opened, where owners and staff know about and follow the zero waste philosophy. Which means that, visiting them, you can be sure that the waste is minimized. The good news is that we have such a place in Sofia, too! It was about time. It is called “Blagichka – zero waste” and the goal of the metropolitan location is to reduce the consumption of unnecessary items and to reuse everything possible. A partner in this extremely meaningful cause is IKEA, and this is just another reason to expect something really good. We cannot wait to visit it and we hope we will not easily find a table because it would mean that we are not the only ones who have long missed such a place!
We promised you five ideas, but we decided to offer you another one – to save bananas! Does it sound funny to you? Well, there is more to it than just fun! The cause is more than easy – instead of taking just perfect yellow bananas without a single speck, pay attention to the lone single bananas that have begun to ripen. And if they stay too much on the stand they will go to the waste bin. They have traveled long enough to get to the booth at the store, and we should put an end to their carbon footprint right there. What to do? If you do not like very ripe bananas, put them as a component in your smoothie, or bake banana bread, or even banana pancakes… the variety of recipes is great. The same applies to avocados! Do not leave them lonely in the shops!
Well, that is a wrap. We can go on with many more ideas, but we think these are a good start for a sustainable lifestyle. We know that switching to a zero or at least minimal waste is a slow process that takes a while and a huge amount of effort at the beginning. However, every step in the right direction is important, and whether you choose one, five or ten things to do, you are already helping. And everything makes sense!
Text: Annie Georgieva