1. On the go: zero waste essentials
When I leave the house for the day, there are a few things I will always have with me. A separate totebag for all my essentials. Yep. The zero waste lifestyle is one of being prepared and.. packed. Haha. But it’s damn worth it.
- A stainless steel lunch container : for take away, for left overs, for other delicious goodies, or to pack my lunch from home.
- 1 liter stainless steel water bottle: I always have a one liter bottle so that I have enough water to get through the day. No need to buy plastic bottles.
- Cutlery wrap: in here I take cutlery, a straw and a napkin with me. After eating, I throw the dirty cutlery back in there so that my bag won’t get dirty.
- Snack bag: I always have my silicone snack bag with some nuts or fruit. (or chocolate).
- Lip balm: I have this vegan & zero waste lip balm that works wonders for me.
- And then of course the beautiful Dear Planet totebag to carry all my goodies with me 😉
2. Cash Receipts
Those little devils. They are mostly made from thermal paper.
Let me tell you why thermal paper is bad:
- Thermal paper can’t be recycled. You can’t throw it with paper. So that’s the first downside of that silly paper.
- And… thermal paper contains… 3 guesses… yup.. BPA.
That is nasty industrial chemical, also found in most plastics. So it ends up in your food, your beverages or goes through your skin. Some examples that contain BPA:
- Plastic containers
- Canned foods
- Tampons & menstrual pads
- Thermal paper – such as cash receipts
- Baby bottles
- Eyeglass lenses
- Some dental fillings
- CDs & DVDs
Because people got aware of this, the market made a new marketing strategy. Removing BPA and selling their products as ‘BPA-free’. But what they do is remove BPA and replace it with BPS en BPF, which have basically the same impact of your health as BPA.
BPA mimics estrogen and that way it messes with your hormones. And our body (& mind) is very sensitive to changes in our hormone levels.
Cashiers have been found to have a much higher level of BPA in their blood, because they hold cash receipts all day long. Our skin is basically our largest organ and absorbs the things we touch/hold.
So refuse those cash receipts.
3. Hang laundry to dry
An easy way to use less energy is to hang your laundry to dry instead of the dryer. You can hang them on a drying rack indoors, but if you have a garden, it is so satisfying to hang them on a clothes line. Being outside and taking a mindful moment. Try to empty your mind doing this little chore. See it as a little meditation. Plus it is a fun sight to see all your clothes fluttering in the wind. This way you save energy and you get a peaceful moment outside.
4. Pick up waste
Why mankind ever thought it normal to throw trash on the ground, it still baffles me. Especially on this day. We all know that littering has such a negative impact on our planet, oceans and animals. Also, why would you want to litter? It’s not like it is a pretty sight to behold. And it really is not that hard to hold on to garbage until you pass by a waste bin or until you get home.
Let us turn things around. Instead of littering, start to pick up at least one piece of trash every day. If you want to pick up more, by all means, do! It is such a small deed with such an impact. Because of the wind, littered trash mostly ends up in a water stream or in the ocean. So let us normalize picking up trash. Inspire others to do it with you.
5. Food waste
Did you know that food waste that ends up on landfill, releases methane? Greenhouse gases. That is why it is so important to compost or separate your food leftovers from other trash and use an organic waste bin (Flemish: de GFT zak). When you have a compost, it is very important to turn over the compost once in a while, so that oxygen can have access.
Food waste truly has a big impact on the environment. So be mindful with what you buy and waste. Don’t buy too much at once and use up what you have.
I love cooking with what I have laying around in the fridge. I rarely use recipes. I like to keep it minimal.
A few days before leaving on vacation, stop doing groceries. Bake, cook, grill, every veggie, meat, fish, fruit, you still have laying around. If it’s too much, you can freeze some in. That way you have meals for the remaining days or for after your vacation. You can also donate the food to friends/family or people in need. If you have no food left before leaving, you can always try to eat out the last day. That way you have no last minute dishes or new organic waste.
The curse of humankind: always wanting something new. I too. Without a doubt. It’s been something I’ve worked very hard on. Consuming less. Buy less new. Being content with what I have.
New things require new resources. Way more resources than our dear planet can handle. Creating new stuff has an immense impact on the environment. Plenty of resources, waste, energy, tons of water, transport,… The list goes on and on.
Reuse and repair what you have. Try to buy less. And when you do want/need something, please, try to buy it secondhand. Thrifting furniture, decoration and clothing is so much fun. And often those items have a back story or have much more character to them. But think further. Need a new camera? See if you can find it secondhand. Electronics are often sold by someone who barely used it. So that way you have something that is basically new, you gave a second life to something that might have ended up on landfill and you bought something without requiring new resources. Yay!
7. Pizza box
When I get take out food, I always give the restaurant my own containers to fill. Also when I go for a slice of pizza. No problemo. But what about a whole pizza? I don’t have a box that big at home. You might ask, “what is the big deal? A pizza box is made of cardboard, you can recycle it”.
First of all: no you can’t. The pizza box absorbs the grease of the pizza. And when paper/cardboard has grease on it, you may NOT recycle it. Because grease is a nasty thing and it will contaminate the whole recycle process.
Secondly, I try to avoid any type of single use materials as much as I can. Even if it isn’t plastic, it required resources of our beautiful planet, just for that single use. It’s not worth it. So try to avoid it as much as possible.
But avoiding it with a giant pizza is difficult, so in this case, that was no option for me. But I wanted to be able to recycle the box afterwards. So after some thinking, I found a solution. Now I bring a silicone baking mat to the pizza place. The mat goes in the box and the pizza goes on top of the mat. This way the grease won’t get in the cardboard and you can recycle the whole box! Except if the pizza guy was extremely generous with the toppings and the grease reached the top of the box. Don’t throw the whole box away then, but rip the part off that contains grease and recycle the rest of the box.
8. Water waste
This one I saw my parents do. Yes they are pretty awesome.
They put a basin in their sink so they can collect water while washing veggies or washing their hands (with biodegradable soap). This way that water isn’t wasted. The water collected in the basin can be used for watering plants, cleaning or even flushing the toilet.
If you have more ideas where to use the water for, let me know in the comments 🙂
Paper envelopes often have plastic windows. It’s true that during the paper recycle process the plastic window will get separated from the paper, but that piece of plastic will probably not get recycled. I hope there is more change it will get recycled if you tear it off from the envelope & put it with plastic.
10. Lighters & smoking
The company bic produces on their own 6 million plastic lighters, every, single, day. Which is insane. A plastic lighter can’t be refilled, so they all end up on landfill. And as you know, plastic will remain for hundreds of years. Smokers lose them really quickly and have to buy new ones very often. The better option is to switch to a metal refillable one or to the oldskool matches. Matches will biodegrade, but they also require trees… So yeah.
To the smokers: please don’t litter your cigarettes. Because the filters are made from plastic. You see them everywhere, it’s not like they will magically disappear. Collect them in a little box that you carry with you in your backpack/handbag. Empty it when you see a bin or when you get home.
The best thing for your health, people around you, your wallet and for the environment is to just simply quit smoking 🙂 I know it is not easy for some, but you will only benefit from it.
Doing the dishes. You love it or you hate it. Most dishwashing sponges are also made from plastic. Especially the yellow one with the green scrub side. When you do your dishes with those, little pieces of plastic will end up in the water. So switch over to sponges and brushes made from plant based materials. Also make sure you use a biodegradable soap to do the dishes with. A lot of commercial soaps contain toxins that won’t break off in the water (plus they are not healthy for you). So look for an eco-friendly soap or make your own.
Check out the Dear Planet webshop for zero waste alternatives. <3