You can fight pollution and climate change with every small decision you make and zero waste lifestyle is a big step in the green living direction. Small shifts and adjustments you make that can drastically reduce the trash that goes into our landfills or water systems. Our green living challenge gets you started on a zero waste adventure.
UrbanMeisters’ Founder & Editor-in-chief Mirela Orlovic gives you an all-inclusive guide to living green and healthy because as global citizens we need to take onus for living responsibly and in-sync with our planet. You can’t complain about pollution without cutting your contribution to it. And while we may have the best intentions, our hectic urban life or low awareness on eco-friendly living may not allow us to take action. This is where UrbanMeisters.com comes in- giving you simple, do-able, even fun action points and tips to go green. So far we’ve touched upon how to reduce pollution cause by food, how to build an eco-friendly but stylish wardrobe and how to green your fitness regimen. We’ve also touched upon key aspects of urban life like plastic reduction, urban commuting, greening your office and travel and even green laundry goals! We now turn to zero waste lifestyle. Over to Mirela.
GREEN LIVING ZERO WASTE TIP: Save trash to save the planet!
We greenies are often confused for radical tree-hugging free elements or corporate chasers protesting indefinitely. Don’t get me wrong, I love my tree hugging, forever protesting friends because that requires a level of commitment and sensitivity to our planet that most of us lack and we need those guys to fight the fight for us. But that doesn’t mean we shirk responsibility completely and do nothing to reduce the impact of our lifestyle on the planet. That why I started UrbanMeisters.com to create a network for myself and others like me who need a little push here and a little help there to start living green. But for all my good intentions, the two words that sent me scurrying for cover were ZERO WASTE! And when I saw all the zero waste bloggers fitting their entire waste in small jars, I felt small, petty but even more discouraged! But that was till I understood what a huge impact my trash count has on the environment. The stats are staggering. The world generates a massive 2.12 billion tons of waste each year– if put in trucks they would circle the world 24 times! What’s more astounding is that all this waste is generated because we trash 99% of the things we buy within 6 months! A website that tracks our waste statistics quite accurately is www.theworldcounts.com
Most of our trash ends up decomposing in landfills which generates green house gases and many substances like plastic take up to 200 years to decompose. Zero waste really is a most pragmatic way of life if you think about it because it aims to not merely ‘manage’ waste but put an end to it. Tall order you think? It’s really not once you get the hang of it. And I’m here to get you started on becoming a zero waste warrior with easy to follow action points.
But before you don the Waste Warrior cape, you have to do two things:
- Take stock of your trash– For a week count the plastic bags full of trash you throw away to know what’s your trash count. This itself will make you want to start living waste free.
- De-clutter – Remove all you don’t use or need to take stock of what you have and you don’t end up buying more of the same. Of course when we say throw, we don’t mean you become a use & throw douchebag but instead recycle, gift, donate etc.
Now you’re ready to roll!
›› Green magic mantra: Reduce – Re-use – Recycle
It does work like magic if you really do it. Minimise all disposables, single-use products, or items with a limited life span. No more plastic or carton cups for coffee and water. Carry your sipper to office and water bottle to the gym. Reduce dependence on plastic items most especially- keep cool mugs for coffee and water at office, buy a grocery bag for shopping. Go for sustainable material replacements for everyday plastic items like eco bamboo toothbrush. At the very least remove all single use plastic from daily life like replace plastic straws with more eco-friendly plastic straws like Bali-Boo Bamboo Straws available here. In my personal opinion Tupperware is the greatest invention of mankind! It’s so handy for carrying, storing food and it drastically reduces my dependence on single use plastic containers.
Re-use things as much as possible. The numerous plastic containers we buy can be re-used for storage for example. When you get ready with your shopping list, sit down and fine comb through it again with the following questions:
–> You are sure you do not have it at home?
–> You are sure you cannot borrow it at family / friends?
–> Can you buy old / re-used or make it yourself?
And if you still need to buy then buy sustainable. Show some pre-owned love by buying and selling used goods. There are big e-commerce websites and apps facilitating buying and selling of pre-owned commodities since E-bay became such a hit. An interesting app I heard of is Place 🙂 which uses geo location technology to tell you where you can find pre-owned sales in your hood. The list is endless, there are so many local options like www.leboncoin.fr in France, www.fairmondo.de in Germany that even has a special section on sustainable products. But of course the traditional methods are still in place like in France you still have a lot of « vide-greniers » and « brocantes » that are organized according to a calendar you can consult here and the famous ‘garage sales’ in the US. Buying vintage & pre-owned is a hot trend in fashion and even luxury. I recently visited the Brocante de Luxe stand at the Paris Fashion Week Premiere Classe Trade show to get you all the green bytes and news from this pre-owned and vintage luxury specialist.
Recycle as often as you can not only clothes, paper, but also furniture, your running sneakers etc. Plus recycling is totally groovy with many hipster events in all mega cities being organised for recycling goods. I’m especially looking forward to this mega event at the Paris Exposition in May: Les Puces Du Design– the first fair in Europe exclusively dedicated to 20th century design. It is a unique and eclectic exhibition of design concepts into it’s 36th edition this year from 18th-21st May. On the program this year are more exhibitors of vintage design from all over Europe. So along with trendy new collections there will be a lot of vintage ware on display.
›› Bulking up
Shopping in bulk is the part that got my inner child most excited about zero waste lifestyle. Anything shopping gets everyone going but here the idea was to buy in bulk commodities like rice, pasta, cereal, body care products like shampoo, soap etc. Buying large quantities minimises the amount of overall packaging and waste generated- you use re-fills instead of new bottles and containers. You can consult here for a list of packaging free supermarkets for a couple of countries. I met Gilles and Bianca who told UrbanMeisters their zero waste journey and they recommended using new retail channels with more direct contact with producers for food buying such as La Ruche qui dit Oui. This is a marketplace that connects local and sustainable farmers to urbans with presence in France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain and UK (also called The Food Assembly).
›› One for all. All for one.
Choose a single multipurpose soap for the whole family to use, instead of buying individual body washes and shampoos for each member. There are some great vegan soap options like Dr. Bronner’s which has all in one soaps that come in therapeutics scents and in mild formula for babies too. You can also look at www.veg-mania.com. Same goes for home cleaners. No need for separate cleaners for different surfaces. Unlike what marketers will want you to believe, your kitchen cleaner can also work wonders on window pane. This may seem trivial but it’s essential. And if your inner self revolts at the thought of soap and shampoo make your own using home ingredients. This is also a great way of ‘toxing’ down you beauty products. An Urbanmeister who makes her own surface cleaner using home ingredients shared her DIY recipe with us here.
›› Eat. Sleep. Compost. Repeat.
Composting is the best way to deal with organic household waste. And you’ll be surprised to know that most of your trash can be composted from food to even dyer lint, hair and nails! Now you can either have a backyard compost or look for the municipal compost facility. There are great kitchen appliances like this Zera™ Food Recycler dustbin that fits easily in the kitchen and turns food scraps into fertiliser.
With these 4 steps you can get started on a zero waste lifestyle and leave a more positive impact on the planet! For more inspiration and practical advise on managing your waste follow this fabulous zero waste blogger Lucie writing Practically Zero Waste. You can find her on Instagram & Facebook too. Another very handy guide that Gilles recommended highly as the ‘Bible’ of zero waste living was the book Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson (in French Zéro Déchet).
If you have any more suggestions on ‘meistering’ a zero waste lifestyle or if you want to showcase something you’ve done then write to firstname.lastname@example.org or post your tip on social media with #GreeningIsWinning & tag @urbanmeisters (on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter). Let’s share our green living hacks.