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If going zero waste is your ambition, you need to take a look not only at our own lifestyles, but your pet’s lifestyle as well. My experiences with my cat and other animals I’ve been pet sitting for over four years now) taught me that everything from food to litter and poo bags has serious effects on the environment. I’m far from perfect, but here are some small but impactful steps you can take to raise your pet more consciously.

  1. Cook food when possible

Cats and dogs can thrive on a cooked food diet. I buy cheap meat parts at the butcher for my cat, (like chicken hearts or livers) and cook them with grains or small portions of vegetables[1]. This way I keep him happy, make sure he has a variety of meats in his diet, and I use animal parts that are not as popular as chicken breasts or steaks.

Photo by Hollie Post on Unsplash

Cats need more meat in their diets than dogs do, so for a dog you can increase the ratio of cooked vegetables to meat. If you have leftover food that you won’t be able to eat yourself, you can always cook no-waste meals for your pet (just avoid garlic, onion, salt, and spices). Rabbits are also great pets to help with preventing food waste – they eat any vegetables and some fruit that go bad quite quickly (think lettuce, celery, spinach, etc).

Whenever I eat fish, I buy one with the head still attached and give it to my cat after cooking. It might not be the prettiest or most elegant food, but it’s what cats eat in nature. They can also eat raw or cooked eggs (since they eat raw meat, fish, and eggs in nature, their digestive track is adapted to deal with salmonella or other parasites better than humans).

2. Buy food in bulk

It’s not completely realistic to cook for your pet every day, so whenever possible, buy food in bulk. Websites like Zooplus.nl offer discounts when (the bigger the package, the higher the discount) so you can minimize the amount of packaging that ends up in the trash. As for wet food, I try to buy big cans and keep them in the fridge for a few days after opening instead of buying small, plastic sachets and using one every day. Ecological pooping

3. Ecological pooping

Photo by Matt Nelson on Unsplash

If I walk a dog twice a day, that’s at least two plastic poop bags that go to the trash daily. With 1.5mln dogs living in the Netherlands[2], it adds up to 3mln plastic bags every day, and 1 billion per year (and that’s only in the Netherlands!). These numbers are shocking, but they can be easily reduced as most of mainstream supermarkets (Action, Ekoplaza, some Alert Heijn shops) already sell biodegradable bags.

For Cats, most of the commercially made litter is made of bentonite clay or silicon crystals, none of which are biodegradable. A more natural choice would be litter made of wood shavings, sawdust, or paper. Make sure you also discard used litter in biodegradable bags (and not in plastic bags).

4. Ditch the cosmetics

Photo by Autri Taheri on Unsplash

I’ve never been a fan of dry shampoos for cats or washing the dogs with perfumed soaps, but now more than even I’m more conscious of what goes down the drain. I myself stopped using cosmetics with chemicals harmful to the environment, and that goes for pets, too. If needed, washing your pet with warm water is more than enough.

5. Use natural toys

Photo by Jonathan Wiemers on Unsplash

Opt for toys made of natural materials like hemp, string, and wood. They’re safer for your pet and for the environment. Dogs also love chewing on beef or pork bones, dried pig ears or chicken legs. It might seem gruesome, but that’s yet another way to make use of animal parts that would otherwise go to waste.

If you’ve ever had a cat, you know that they prefer to play with a cardboard box rather than the expensive toy you bought for them. They rarely need complex, plastic toys or toys running on batteries. See what your cat plays with the most and use that instead. For example, my cat loves to chase around cloves of garlic (because of the rustling peel) and fruit pits. The only downside is that I keep finding them under my couch while cleaning the apartment, but my cat is happy, so I let that slide.


[1] For a list of human foods safe for cats, visit this website.

[2] An estimate number for 2018, according to Statista.

Summer’s here! Bring out the sun beds, dig out that bathing suit, lather yourself in sun screen and just lie under the sun forgetting all about deadlines and alarm clocks. Well… not exactly, but another beautiful season is upon us and with it come different patterns and habits. As I was daydreaming of all the things that I will be able to do in summer like to go out more, hang out on the beach, and reclaim the wonderful afternoon siesta, I started to think of good habits to pack for this summer. I’m going to share a few of them with you here.

At home

Shed those extra pounds

With a new season it’s always great to look into your closet and see which pieces of clothing you haven’t worn. A simple trick is to put the hanger facing outwards (opposite to what you’d normally do) when hanging clothes on the rail and if after the season they are still turned outwards, then you don’t really use is.

Keep it cool

Higher temperatures mean food can spoil quicker. It is therefore crucial to wash and store all food well. Remember to look at our blog on how to store food properly. If you get distracted and find your lovely fruits covered in dark spots, don’t worry about it. Just cut out the good fleshy bits add some lemon juice and voila you have a nice refreshing smoothie OR simply gather those lonesome fruit, slice them razor thin, add some red wine, brandy, brown sugar and lots of ice for a simple summer sangria


© MollieKate

Chop – Drizzle – Eat

Let’s face it, it’s warm, we’re lazy so we might not feel like making a proper meal. Summer is perfect to enjoy a nice crunchy salad with all kinds of vegetables, beans, herbs, grains, nuts, and lentils. Scrape your fridge or cupboards, chop and mix everything and then drizzle with a lovely dressing. You can opt for one of my personal favorites: Tahini dressing, or Fresh mint dressing. Yum!

Out and about

Stay safe

The sun’s warmth is lovely but not its UVA rays. It’s important to protect our skin with face and body sunscreen as well as after-sun. Unfortunately, commercial sunscreens have a huge deteriorating impact on marine life and are linked with the destruction of the coral reef (Danovaro, R. et al, 2008). Fortunately, there are eco and even zero waste options which you can make yourself.

Tidy up!

Clear blue waters, soft green grass or beautiful clear sands. These splendid places offer us moments of peace and a place to have fun with our friends, so why not give something back? While you’re at the beach or park you can  spend 5 minutes cleaning up and even join the social media trend #5minutecleanup. It’s quick and very effective, and just think if all of us got into this habit!


© Giovanni_Tafa

Guilt free Ice cream

It doesn’t matter if it’s  vanilla or a triple chocolate chip cookie madness, ice cream is EVERYTHING in summer. However, this icy creamy goodness comes packaged in plastic that we unwrap and throw out before devouring it. We can easily avoid this by buying ice cream cones so everything is consumed and no more plastic. Yes please!

Going away

Pack it

It’s not just your luggage that needs to be packed, so does your food. Before heading out make sure to freeze what can be frozen i.e. dairy products, some vegetables, all fruits and more. Soft herbs like basil, mint and parsley don’t hold up well frozen, so chop and mix them with olive oil and freeze in an ice cube tray.  Another option is to see what food items can still be eaten and give them away to a friend or neighbour who will be more than happy to receive them!

Be prepared!

– The city;

A mason jar and a tea towel go a long way. These two items can save you a lot of unnecessary waste. The mason jar is perfect to keep beverages, ice cream scoops, and small snacks, while the tea towel is great to hold bread, croissants, fruits, or lay out for a mini picnic. These take minimal space and can be carried around the city in your favorite tote bag ♡

– Camping;

This requires a bit more preparation. The basic items would be a good water jug which keeps your drinks chilled or hot, as needed. Then reusable cutlery and a compostable plate (made from bamboo or cornstarch; I know incredible!). Finally, your toiletry kit; bamboo toothbrush & holder, toothpaste tablets, deodorant, bug spray, moisturizer, and sunscreen which can all be DIYed.


© GoingZeroWasteBlog

© GoingZeroWasteBlog

Summer is all about having fun, and that’s what our journey to reduce food waste should be about. It’s all about discovering alternatives and being creative with what you have. When I say you it is not just one individual but ALL of you who are reflecting on your personal habits but also the collective potential to make a positive change.

Who’s a self sufficient responsible zero waster? You are!

Sources

Sunscreens Cause Coral Bleaching by Promoting Viral Infections ( Danovaro, R. et al, 2008)

Going zero waste

Cookie and Kate recipes

After last weekend we can gladly say that summer has officially started. This asks for celebration! TBYW closed off the season before the summer break starts by hosting one of the biggest events of the year: the TBYW Summer Festival. The theme for this edition was Zero Waste, a topic that was used as broad as it gets. From making DIY eco-friendly cosmetics to growing your own plants and herbs, a wide range of DIY crafts and interactive sessions prepared everyone for a sustainable, waste-free summer. Doing so, we set ourselves free from the waste through recycling, reusing, reducing and reconnecting. In this blog you’ll find a review of the day through 4 lessons I learnt at the first-ever summer edition of the TBYW Festival

#1 Zero-waste DIY’ing does not have to be expensive, difficult and time-consuming

Credit: Stefa Nia Bi (facebook); water_i_am (instagram)
Credit: Stefa Nia Bi (facebook); water_i_am (instagram)

DIY’ing? Isn’t that for people who have a lot of time, money and specific skills? Well, the answer is no. Using only some necessary ingredients, visitors DIY’d their way to a pantry filled with dish soap, all-purpose cleaner, deodorant, toothpaste, menstrual pads and much more. The main ingredients that were used were ones you can find in your cupboard, such as towels and jars. The rest of the raw materials was bought in bulk  at the Soap Queen. The eco-friendly cosmetics workshop was a massively popular one during which, in about one and a half hours, the participants learnt to make sunscreen, toothpaste and deodorant. No artificial ingredients were used, just the necessary ones. And the fun thing is, from there on it was  just a matter of putting everything together in the right quantities and you’ve made yourself the ecologically-approved, natural, environmentally-friendly, waste-free version of the cosmetic products you use the most. Win-win!

#2 Bacteria can be good for you

Credit: Stefa Nia Bi (facebook); water_i_am (instagram)

Bacteria are generally linked to disease and food decay and we should do as much as we can to avoid having them! Right? Well, no. Some bacteria are actually essential to stay healthy. Large amounts of ‘bad’ bacteria can get you sick, or make food go bad, but ‘good´ bacteria can make sure that the bad kind does not stand a chance of growing. These good bacteria are referred to as probiotics. Probiotics provide healthy bowel flora which is essential for healthy digestion, bowel movement and a well-functioning immune system.

Credit: Stefa Nia Bi (facebook); water_i_am (instagram)

Fermentation is a process that provides for ready-made, natural probiotics. Through the use of micro-organisms a metabolic process takes place, changing organic materials make-up. Kombucha is the perfect example of a fermented product with great health benefits due to the high levels of probiotics. The base consists of hot water mixed with sugar and black or green tea. After the mixture has cooled down to about 20°C the micro organism is added: the SCOBY. A SCOBY is a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast and looks as funky as it sounds. However, this is the essential component that eventually causes fermentation to take place. The SCOBY ‘eats’ the sugars that are in the liquid, and produces alcohol (the alcohol percentage remains at a maximum of 1%), enzymes, carbon dioxide, a range of acids, vitamin C and B-vitamins. Not all claims such as the detoxing and cleansing properties are supported by scientific research, but in any way a refreshing drink with probiotics, vitamins and far less sugar then usual sodas can’t be wrong!

During the festival a one-hour kombucha workshop was provided by one of our beloved volunteers. As TBYW hopes to give more in the future, keep an eye out for more workshops after summer!

#3 Kimchi is one of the healthiest foods in the world

Credits: Simon Lenskens

Kimchi is a Korean side dish with pickled vegetables. The slightly sour taste might remind you of the previously named kombucha, and that is because kimchi is fermented as well. At the Summer Festival a kimchi workshop was held, given by non other than the founder of The Table For Kimchi who is Korean herself. Her level of knowledge and passion for the product was contagious for all participants who after the workshop could take a jar of the good stuff home.

Credit: Stefa Nia Bi (facebook); water_i_am (instagram)

Kimchi is prepared by dehydrating vegetables first, in salt. After that, a mixture, known as the kimchi paste, was prepared using seventeen (!) ingredients. To put that into perspective, most kimchi recipes use five or six ingredients. For this session, a vegan and sugar-free version was prepared using apples and kiwi instead of sugar and vegetable broth, sea greens (kelp, seaweed) and soy sauce to provide for the umami taste that fish sauce or shrimp paste can have, which are commonly used.

While the cabbages were dehydrating, the kimchi paste was prepared. Sea salt is an important ingredient that will eventually cause the ‘bad’ bacteria to not win the competition with the probiotics. The fermentation process takes around four months on 3°C, so you have to have a little bit of patience if you let it ferment in the fridge. However, if you store in at room temperature you can speed up the process and your kimchi is ready after about one week.

Credit: Stefa Nia Bi (facebook); water_i_am (instagram)

The health benefits of kimchi come down to the facts that it’s high in fiber, low in calories and packed with nutrients. We don’t have to get into the benefits of probiotics that are present due to the fermentation process again, but it’s worth naming that kimchi is full of it. With regards to the nutrients, kimchi stores among others; vitamin A, B1, B2 and C, and essential amino acids and minerals such as iron, calcium, and selenium. Continuing onto a range of components that are hard to pronounce, kimchi contains capsaicin, chlorophyll, carotenoids, flavonoids, and isothiocyanates that a.o. aid hormonal balance, digestive health, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and the list goes on and on. Finally, an important component to name is sea greens. Sea greens have been rising in popularity in the health food section, and serve as a great alternative for animal-based protein due to their richness in protein and minerals.

At the festival the mixture was tasted right after it was made, and people loved it already. Traditionally kimchi is used as a side dish,  for instance with fried rice, inside dumplings, in a spicy stew (kimchi jjigae, 김치찌개) or as kimchi with udon, a thick wheat noodle (김치 우동). Last saturday the freshly made kimchi was served simply on a bit of toast and it didn’t take long before the whole dish was empty. To fully benefit from all those health impacts however, we should (unfortunately) be a bit more patient and wait until fermentation has taken place, properly.

#4 A plastic-free lifestyle is adaptable for anyone

The collected waste of the month
Credit: Stefa Nia Bi (facebook); water_i_am (instagram)

Late in the afternoon the TBYW-festival visitors were invited to join an interactive session during which four volunteers shared their experience with a plastic-free lifestyle. Whereas the title of the session, plastic-free, might sound frightening, what became clear in the discussion is that plastic-free does not have to be taken as strictly as it sounds. It is a process, and in this process we try to refrain from speaking in terms of ‘doing it perfect’ and ‘failure’ because these make it seem like there is one way to do it, all or nothing. This is not true. Easy swaps from disposable, single-use goods can be made, to reusable and sustainable. For example, make a linen bag, coffee-to-go cup and prepared meals part of your standard packing list when you’re on the go. This way you can decline the plastic bags, disposable coffee cups and plastic-wrapped meals and you’re already well underway on your journey to keeping plastics out of our natural environment.

The most striking findings of the discussion are the following:

Credit: Stefa Nia Bi (facebook); water_i_am (instagram)
  • All participants spent LESS on their groceries this past plastic-free month. By buying in bulk and choosing your products more wisely, it was found that everyone lowered their grocery-expenses this past month. Also, as many prepared the meals and took them when they were on the go, less money is spent on plastic-wrapped sandwiches and salads.
  • All participants had a healthier diets during a plastic free month. It was found that buying package free largely directs you to the fresh produce-aisle or the markets where mostly non-processed foods are sold (bread, nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables etc.). This automatically causes you to stick to a diet reliant on non processed, fresh food. Isn’t that a great side-effect!
Credits: Simon Lenskens
  • Most participants learnt new food preparation skills. Examples of this are: making sourdough bread, making pasta, preparing plant-based milk, etcetera. It was found that after the third time it’s not even that much of an extra effort anymore to make your own bread or milk, and it saves you a lot of money.
  • Plastic-free requires mutual effort of both people and politics. Policies could drastically decrease plastic use. With the choices we make on the consumer-level, we can show that there is a demand for for instance decreased plastic packaging and more zero-package shops. We vote with our wallet, so to say. It requires politics to push plastic-free policies and it requires people to make plastic-free decisions. This way, the consumer cán make a difference.
Credits: Simon Lenskens
Credit: Stefa Nia Bi (facebook); water_i_am (instagram)

Conclusion

All in all, I can really say that not only the festival was very learningful, it was great fun as well. And what was highlighted in this blog was just the tip of the iceberg. The TBYW Festival offered not only workshops, also an informative wall about the future of food, a clothes swap corner, a yoga session, a food market, music in the evening and let’s not forget the great food that was provided throughout the entire day. The atmosphere was very relaxed, and the setting felt intimate, even though most of the workshops were pretty much full. I would like to thank all the people who came, and the TBYW team for the great organization! I am looking forward to the next version of the festival that will probably be held in autumn/winter, and I hope to see you there!

Credit: Stefa Nia Bi (facebook); water_i_am (instagram)

Credit: Stefa Nia Bi (facebook); water_i_am (instagram)
Credits: Simon Lenskens



In this blog you’ll find the five most wasted food products, and some inspiration for what to do with them so they don’t have to go to waste! Find five recipes that are easy and quick to save you time, money and get a delicious meal on the table, following a zero-waste policy. Be a hero in the kitchen and try them!

#1 Bread

Bread & Butter Pudding

240 million slices of bread are thrown in the bin every year. Unbelievable! Let’s fill our bellies instead of bins using the leftover bread to make this amazing bread and butter pudding. Too easy and to good to let it go to waste!

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg (if you want to keep it vegan, use 2 tablespoons chia seeds that are soaked for 15 mins in 6 tablespoons of water)
  • 6-8 slices of bread
  • 2-3 tablespoons of butter (if you want to keep it vegan, use dairy-free margarine)
  • 500-750 ml (dairy-free) milk of any kind you have left in the fridge.
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • 40 grams of chopped dates/raisins
  • 50 grams of jam (any of your taste)

Cooking method

Grease an oven proof dish. Cut the bread into triangles and spread butter/margarine no both sides. Layer half the bread triangles on the base of the dish. Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of sugar over the bread. Sprinkle with cinnamon and half of the dates/raisins.

Layer the rest of the bread over the top. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar, cinnamon, and the remaining dates/raisins. Mix the egg/chia seed mixture with 500ml of milk. Gently pour the milk mixture over the bread. Set the pudding aside for 30 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the milk.

Preheat your oven to 180⁰C.

Once the bread has had time to soak, if there is no milk left, gently tip over another 100-250ml depending on how much liquid was absorbed. The amount of liquid you will need will largely depend on the thickness of your bread. Sprinkle the top of the pudding with the remaining sugar and some more cinnamon. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the pudding is just beginning to go slightly golden on top. Remove from the oven, gently spread jam over the top and then place back into the oven for another 5 minutes. Serve and indulge!

#2 Milk

Rice Pudding

When I was younger, I had to drink my glass of milk before going to school. It was supposed to make me strong and healthy and, according to the advertisement in that time, milk was “The White Engine”. Whatever all the opinions on that might be right now, milk remains the number #2 of most wasted food products. Every year we pour 5.9 million glasses of milk down the sink. Rice pudding is a classic example of the easiest, filling recipe you can make and drizzled with cinnamon or honey it makes up for the best plate of comfort food out there.

Ingredients

  • 1 liter of milk
  • 100 grams of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 95 grams of white rice
  • optional: 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • optional: ground cinnamon
  • Optional: roasted nuts

Cooking method

In a large saucepan, combine about 80% of the milk, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in rice and reduce heat to low. Be sure to adjust the heat so that it is at a gentle simmer. Stirring occasionally, cook for 50 to 60 minutes. Mixture should thicken up to the consistency of yogurt. Once thickened, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla (optional).

Let cool and then refrigerate. The last bit of milk is stirred in just before serving. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired. I like to sprinkle some roasted nuts on top, or whatever sweetener I have in my cupboard (raisins, berries, apple etc.)

#3 Potatoes

Potato Soup

5.8 million kilos of potatoes end up in the bin each year. So; before that happens, let’s make this delicious soup of it! Like I promised, it’s easy, fast and only requires a few ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 5 large potatoes
  • 2 green onions, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon basil
  • Salt and pepper,
  • Water
  • 650 ml of milk (for the vegan version use any plant-based milk)

Cooking method

Peel and roughly chop potatoes. Discard tops and bottoms of green onions and mince the remaining pieces. Add potatoes and onions to a medium-sized saucepan and cover with water. Boil on high for 30 minutes, adding more water to the pot as needed, until potatoes as well cooked and soft. Remove pot from heat and drain the water over a strainer until it is just under the level of your cooked potatoes. Return any onions and basil the strainer catches to the pot.

Add the millk to the potatoes and mash until mostly smooth, leaving a few small chunks for a hearty texture. Add more milk, a dash at a time, until soup reaches your preferred consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste, don’t be shy and use a lot. Return pot to the stove and heat, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes. Serve garnished with additional green onions if desired.

#4 Cheese

Pasta Quattro Formaggi

First of all: cheese can last long! Probably longer than you think. Also: don’t be afraid of mould on cheese; you can scrape it off and use it for cooking anyway (disclaimer: I’m not a medical practitioner, this is just from my own experience). Remember; with cheese you can make an easy bechamel sauce, to pour over your cauliflower, or use in lasagna. This can be frozen, too, to preserve it for longer. Keeping it simple, I present to you a four-cheeses pasta, Italian style.

Ingredients

  • 1 package pasta (your choice)
  • 240 ml milk
  • 80 grams of soft cheese of your choice (mozzarella, ricotta)
  • 80 grams of blue cheese of your choice (gorgonzola, Danish blue)
  • Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
  • Pinch white pepper
  • two types of grated cheese of your choice (parmigiano, pecorino,
  • Fine sea salt (to taste)

Cooking method

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add whichever type of pasta you choose. tir, bring back to a boil and start timing according to your desired degree of doneness and instructions on the package. While the pasta is cooking, in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk over medium-low heat. Add the soft cheeses, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until they are melted and the mixture is homogeneous. Add the nutmeg and white pepper.About 1 minute before the pasta is done, remove it from heat and drain it. Transfer the drained pasta to a large skillet and stir in the milk-and-cheese mixture and the grated cheeses. Cook, shaking the pan continuously and vigorously until the sauce has thickened and the pasta is perfectly al dente and coated in the cheese sauce. Season to taste with fine sea salt.

Serve hot, with additional grated cheese for topping, if desired, and a green salad or vegetables.

#5 Apples

Easy Apple Sauce

1.3 million apples are thrown away. Every. Year. Staggering. And sucha shame for such a great product! Who doesn’t love the apple-break? Store them in a dry and cool place to keep them for longer. Another option is to make apple sauce to go with your vegetables. This is the simplest thing you’ll ever make, maximum outcome. I remember my mom always used to make her own apple sauce and whenever we had dinner guests over it would steal the show.

Ingredients

  • 4 apples, peeled, cored and chopped into cubes
  • 180 ml water
  • 40 grams of sugar (use less or more to taste)
  • pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Cooking method

Can you even call this a cooking method? It’s literally; putting everything in a saucepan, heat it over a medium heat for about 15 minutes and mash with a fork/potato masher. Enjoy!

“Oh c’mon, it’s just one straw” Said 8 billion people.

Straws are made in ten minutes, used up in twenty and stick around in the natural environment for a lifetime. These and other issues regarding waste disposal were discussed at the end of April, on this blog. We dove into the bin, untangled waste, looked into waste streams, researched plastic disposal and drew not-so-rosy conclusions. A world-wide trash epidemic is polluting our groundwater and oceans. Sad news, but that should never be the conclusion! At the beginning of May me and three TBYW’ers took on a challenge to keep as much matter out of landfill as possible: the zero-waste challenge. Halfway through the month I present a personal update and easy tips and tricks for going zero-waste.

As I tend to be  radical, the last thing I disposed on the last day before the journey, was my own trash bin. We took one final walk to the sidewalk in front of my house and after an short goodbye we parted ways. I was ready.

Waste-free travel

My personal zero-waste journey started in Italy. The first day of the challenge was perfectly timed as that was the day that me and my mom went on a week-long camping trip to Sardinia. My first mistake was not telling her about the challenge, as I found a pile of disposable cutlery in her suitcase. Oops! Quickly swapped the plastics for two sets of regular cutlery and we were good to go. Zero-waste on a trip does require some preparational work. Tip one: DIY. To fill your toiletries bag, minimalist packing is the key. I brought my own reusable make-up remover wipes (an old towel cut in round shapes, nothing fancy), DIY waste-free deodorant, DIY waste-free toothpaste (I used the same recipe as deo for efficiency seasons) and a bamboo toothbrush. My deodorant recipe is: coconut oil:baking soda:cornstarch using a 1:1:1 ratio, plus  a few drops of essential oil of your preference.

Depending on your skin, mix and match the ingredients until the effect of the product is optimal for you. I used peppermint essential oil for deodorant because I used the same recipe for toothpaste which is not recommended, I prefer a nice smell such as lemongrass and a bit of tea tree as a deodorant. For travelling, however, I chose efficiency over comfort.

Tip two: pack smart. Bring as much of the essential inventory as you need: think of a reusable coffee-cup, cutlery, sugar, salt/pepper in tiny containers, reusable wipes (an old towel cut into rectangles) etcetera. My dish soap also served the purpose of detergent and did an excellent job. Really, you don’t need a different product for every specific purpose. Such an easy way to save money, weight and space!

Tip three: Leave little room for interpretation when shopping in a foreign country (in which you don’t speak the language). Expressing a clear “no” when at the market the assistants want to put your produce in a plastic bag. Don’t be shy in using non-verbal communication in case you want to use your own reusable linen bag for bread, or your own container to bring olives or cheese. Some shop assistants respond positively, some shop assistant do not approve, to put it lightly. Like when we did our first round of groceries and got our first round of waste in as well.

The lady behind the cashier took the onions and unleashed a waterfall of Italian words that made clear that we weren’t supposed to take loose onions. She stormed out and came back with a plastic net of onions. You can call it a lack of backbone, but we didn’t have the nerve to decline her onions and bought them in the net. I was already proud to resist her clear dissatisfaction over the fact that we hadn’t used plastic bags to cover the rest of the fresh produce in the first place.  In any case: be as clear as you can but don’t worry if it does not work out.

Waste-free alternative to plastic disposable spoons

Tip four: Be easy on yourself. The road towards a zero waste life will only be sustainable if you enjoy it. You won’t enjoy it if you are too hard on yourself, simple as that. It’s fun, it’s an experiment, it’s not about perfection. Don’t think in terms of failing: think in terms of learning curve. This is essential to not feel discouraged if anything unexpected happens. Like when I ordered coffee and got it in a styrofoam cup. Shit (plastic) happens! As long as, instead of using a plastic spoon to stir the coffee you use your sunglasses, it’s not the end of the world. We extended the lifetime of the cup with three rounds of coffee in the morning and wine in the afternoon. After that coffee-flavoured wine (or wine-flavoured coffee) wasn’t enjoyable anymore and the cup was added to the trash.

Zero Waste at home

All-purpose cleaner recipe

After the return it was time to become a waste-free domestic princess. I was already able to do some of my preparations during the first of a series of TBYW zero waste workshops (check out the Facebook for upcoming workshops). The DIY cleaning products workshop provided for the ingredients, bought in bulk from the Soap Queen webshop. We made an all-purpose cleaner and a dish soap.

In the context of step #2 of going zero waste: ‘reduce’, I critically went over my cupboard with cleaning products. Do I really need a different cleaner for the surfaces in my room, the bathroom and the kitchen top? The answer is no. So far All I use is dish soap and the all purpose cleaner and my room is clean so: can confirm, I’m surviving with at least half the cleaning products I thought I needed. This actually goes for many of the different products I use in my life. Once you’ve made an inventory of what those products that you need are, continue to tip five: Make zero-waste swaps. The most important ones to get started are:

eCoffee to-go cup

Tip six is: look up what possibilities there are in your neighbourhood to shop bulk and package-free. The Turkish shops and the markets are by far the most cheap alternatives I have found in my surroundings. For inspiration in the city of Amsterdam, check out https://www.hetzerowasteproject.nl/p/bulk-boodschappenadressen.html to see what you can get where. I went to the Delicious Foods store at the Westerstraat and got a 5% discount for bringing my own bags and jars! Today’s yield: hemp seed, flax seed, tea, chickpeas, coconut flakes, almonds and cashews (the latter three to make my own milk later on: recipes will follow!).

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: once starting this journey, do not start throwing away wasteful products now that you have them anyway. Use it up, recycle or compost what can be recycled or composted. Your ultimate guide to composting you can find here.

My final tip is to shop second hand. Check your local thrift shop to get what you need, or go to secondhand clothes shops. An online possibility with a range somewhat broader than the Episode vintage-style  is United Wardrobe. When you buy second hand, often you have less/zero packaging and you’ll discard the use of resources that are needed to produce new stuff.

Finally, I can’t emphasize enough how this is not something you do overnight, and you shouldn’t expect that. It really isn’t about doing it perfectly, it is about making an educated decision on what and how you consume, and doing that for the better. You have the power to make choices that will lead to a more sustainable system, everyday. We are so privileged to have such a great range of options to make in what we buy and where that comes from, so why not make a choice that contributes to keeping the planet a bit more free from waste?

If you want to know more and follow some great zero-waste workshops, keep an eye on TBYW’s social media channels https://www.facebook.com/TBYWA/ and join the workshops!  

Waste and zero-waste living

 

©The Green Hub

 

Waste. Something we, at Taste Before You Waste, do not like. This week’s blogpost takes a look, not just at food waste, but at all consumer waste. Learn more about waste-free living and find tips & tricks on how to reduce your personal waste.

 

Waste streams  and their disposal

 

Let’s dive into the bin. What is waste? Which waste streams are there? How are each of the waste streams treated?

Waste streams are the routes that waste pass through from the source to:

  • Recovery. Materials of a product are replaced so the product gets another useful purpose;
  • Recycling. Converting waste into reusable materials;
  • Disposal. Removing, destroying or storing waste.

In 2016, 5.0 tonnes of waste was generated per EU inhabitant (Eurostat, 2018). The EU upholds a ‘polluter pays’ principle. This means that for instance the producers of materials have to bear to cost of polluting practices at the production stage. These polluting practices may entail damage to protected species, damage to water or soil damage. By putting a price tag on polluting practices for the producer, the cost reflects in the price that the consumer eventually pays. So, indirectly the consumer also pays for pollution.

 

The way waste is treated varies across categories. Presently only 44 per cent of all municipal waste is recycled or composted (Multimedia Centre European Parliament, 2018). ‘Mixed ordinary waste’ has the lowest recycling rate of all the categories (15%) (Bourguignon, 2015). What is not recycled, is disposed, which unfortunately represents an enormous loss of resources, energy, land, production labour etcetera. On top of that, waste disposal management can have severe environmental impacts. Incineration, for instance, can result in the emission of air pollutants (Eurostat, 2018). EU policy is now geared towards reducing the environmental- and health related impacts of waste and improving the efficiency of resource-use. Over the longer term, policies aim at reducing the amount of waste and promoting waste as a resource: recycling!

 

A policy brief published the 4th of March this year reported on the need to reshape our economy towards climate-neutral and circular. This policy brief prescribes that the percentage of recycled waste should be increased up to 65 percent and the amount of waste that reaches landfills should drop to below 10 percent. Landfills are sites where waste is disposed underground or on the land. In 2016, in the EU, 45.5 percent of waste was landfilled (Eurostat, 2018). The problem with landfills is that they are often so tightly packed that all oxygen is squeezed out, causing organic waste to not compose properly. This landfilling solid waste creates carbon dioxide and methane that can seep out of landfill. Both are greenhouse gasses: they trap heat in the atmosphere which causes global warming (Themelis & Ulloa, 2006). Besides that, landfill leachate (the liquid that percolates through solid material) allows pollutants from the leachate to contaminate groundwater (Lee & Jones-Lee, 2011). So: landfills take up a lot of land and space and can cause air, water and soil pollution.

 

Plastic, not-so-fantastic

 

Finally, in thinking of waste stream management, plastic deserves its own paragraph. The world produces more than 300 million tons of plastic each year. The problem with plastics is that only a fraction of that is recycled: only nine percent of the global production (Geyer, Jambeck & Lavender, 2017). 12 percent of that is incinerated, and 79 percent ends up in landfills or the natural environment. To paint a picture for you: think of one large garbage truck full of plastic that every minute of everyday, dumps its entire holding capacity into the ocean (UN, 2017). If our waste management strategies remain unchanged, by 2050 about 12.000 metric tons of plastic will be in landfills and our natural environment.

 

 

 

 

 

The consumer as part of the solution

 

Unnecessary packaging, unclear or absent waste separation systems or malfunctioning waste management are major contributors to the pollution of our natural environment. These take place on the macro level: institutions decide for the consumer. However, as a consumer you have more power than you think! So let’s consider the role that us individuals have in creating positive impact. And this is where a zero waste lifestyle enters the stage! A great contributor of keeping matter out of landfill is to keep trash out of the trash bin, simple as that. So that’s what we’ll do. What follows now is a beginners’ guide to a zero-waste lifestyle. With easy-to-apply tips and tricks that pave the way for anyone to appropriate a life with less waste.

 

The five waste-free principles

We’ll start with the five principles of personal waste-management:

  1. Refuse. Neglect the things that you don’t need in your life. Refusing goes beyond saying ‘no’ to any marketing folder that is pushed in your hands. Also refuse to take to-go cups, fast fashion, plastic straws and plastic bags. Basically it means minimizing consumption of the things that you have become used to in your daily life. It’s all about the details here, so be mindful of the things you use. Do you really need that keyhanger souvenir while there are still three lying around in your drawer, probably broken into two before they made it to your home country? Probably not. Free toys that come with your groceries? No thank you! That standard pair of plastic cutlery with your to-go meal? Dare to say no and free yourself of useless materials. Naturally, it will leave you with more time and space to spend on the things that DO matter.
  2. Reduce. Reduce what you can’t refuse. This step helps you to focus on the things you need in your day-to-day life. These can be cleaning products, cosmetics, gadgets, anything! Look at all the things you have in your home and get rid of the unnecessary. Sell, hand out to the second-hand store, recycle or give away. Congratulations; you’ve just made the choice to own quality over quantity and life experience over material goods.
  3. Reuse. There are certain things you need when going to the (super)market. Plastic bags are not one of them. Instead, use a canvas bag or containers for your fruits and vegetables, which you can reuse. The same goes for reusable containers to store your food in the fridge, instead of the wasteful plastic cling film to cover yesterday’s late night pizza.
  4. Rot. Composting is a process in which organic waste changes into soil conditioner. The end product: compost, is rich in nutrients and can be used in farming, agriculture etcetera. Whether you live on a farm or in an apartment on the seventh floor, there are always composting options. Keep your organic waste separate and get informed on the composting options in your neighbourhood. Many cities have wormhotels, where hundreds of worms create high-quality, nutrient-rich compost out of your organic waste. Here you can get rid of your organic waste and contribute to the production of nutrient-dense soil conditioner. Via https://wormenhotel.nl/kaart/ you can search for the worm hotel nearby, or start your own worm hotel.
  5. Recycle. There will unfortunately be some products that you use and have to dispose. Always check your municipality’s website to know about the recycling policies.

 

The information that is shared here was mostly derived from desk research. But to actually know what it is like to live waste-free, we will only find out if we go out and try it! So: starting the first of May, me and two others will embark on a waste-free journey that will last one full month. We will test-run all tips, tricks and strategies for a waste-free lifestyle and log on the challenges and everything that strikes us during the journey. During the TBYW summer festival we hope to see you during an interactive session during which all ins and outs of minimizing personal consumer waste will be discussed. But: we don’t want to do this alone! Do you feel like taking on a challenge? Join! Send an e-mail to HannekeM@tastebeforeyouwaste.org and let’s do this, together.

 

Additionally, TBYW organizes a series of workshops that help you on the way to a waste-free life. Here’s the overview of all the workshops that will be given, starting the 30th of April.

 

Date (dd.mm.yyyy) Theme Topic
30.04.2019 Kitchen hygiene Reusable wipes

All-purpose cleaner

Dish soap

14.05.2019 Personal hygiene/protection Toothpaste

Deodorant

Sunscreen

21.05.2019 Soap making Coffee scrub

Bar soap

04.06.2019 Menstrual cycle Menstrual cup

Reusable pads

cramp oil

11.06.2019 Personal hygiene/protection Eye liner

Bronzing powder

Make up remover

 

Stay tuned in on TBYW’s social media channels to find more information soon. We hope to see you at the workshops and don’t hesitate to get in touch and join us in the waste-free month challenge!

 

References:

  • Bourguignon, D. (2015) Understanding waste streams. Treatment of specific waste. EPRS | European Parliamentary Research Service. Members’ Research Service
  • Geyer, R., Jambeck, J. R. & Lavender. K. (2017) Production, use and fate of all plastics ever made. Science Advances, Vol 3 No 7.  
  • Lee, F. G. Lee-Jones, A. (2011) Solid Waste Management: US EPA Lined-Landfill Approach Not Reliable for Protecting Public Health and Environmental Quality.
  • Media Centre European Parliament, 2018/06/04, Circular economy: Europe cleans up its act.  Retrieved from: https://multimedia.europarl.europa.eu/en/circular-economy-europe-cleans-up-its-act_N01-PUB-180504-CIRC_ev, at 09/04/2019
  • Themelis, N. J. & Ulloa, P. A. (2006) Methane generation in landfills. Science Direct, Renewable Energy 32 (2007) 1243–1257