Blog post 4: What is zero waste?

Home-made bags for fruit/vegetable.
TIP: if you do different size, use different color when sewing the top; so you can easily recognize the different sizes.

Did you follow the blog since the beginning? Did you succeed to integrate something in your daily live? Don’t forget: it is good to be motivated, but don’t try to change everything at once! Do small changes that you find easy. The rest will follow later.

How much waste do you have per week?  Do you know that if you have 1 big garbage bag per week (60L), you produce 3 120 liter waste per year?

Some families (with kids: Bea Johnson, the “famille zero dechet”, “zero carabistouille” and probably many others) have 0,5 liters (yes, a small jar!) waste per YEAR?

We are not there yet: we have about 500L (30L every 3 weeks); so, there is still work to do. I hope this blog will help me too 😉.

If you do miss a challenge this week: then look into your garbage; which kind of waste do you have most?

 This week I’ll not give you extra recipes, but let’s understand the zero waste.

Do you know the 5 rules of zero waste?

It’s quite easy concepts; but the difficult part is the practice. You have to apply them in the same order as written here below.

REFUSE

REDUCE

REUSE

RECYCLE

ROT THE REST

First REFUSE what you don’t need: Someone gives you a publicity or a flyer, you get a plastic “made in China” toy for free when buying 2 boxes of cookies (oh, yes… of course you don’t buy cookies anymore… 😉), or receive a packed cookie with your coffee…. The most difficult to do is to say “no thanks, I don’t need it”.

If I have to buy toothpaste or sun protection cream (yes, I don’t make it myself (yet)…), there is often a “present” for free (day cream that I’ll never use, timer to time when we brush our teeth). I either wait that the action passed, or refuse the “present”.

One evening, I decided to e-mail all company who were sending us publicity by “addressed mail” by post, to tell them that I don’t want their mail. It worked!!!

If you can’t refuse, try to REDUCE: for example, give away clothes you never use or some of the so many toys from the kids, reduce the number of cleaning products.

I’m happy that I don’t like shopping … because if I would hang around in shops, I would be more tempted to buy.

Last month we sold some of our toys at a flea market with 3 friends. We had so much fun, we earned money and made some free space in our house! In Antwerp, you also have different place where you can give away good material to people in need: “in de buurt” or “Moeder voor moeders”. There is maybe something similar in your city? Otherwise, in Belgium, you can bring it to big second hand shops: “les petits riens”, “opnieuw & Co”, the “kringloopwinkel”,…

If you couldn’t refuse or reduce, you can still try to REUSE:  don’t throw away all plastic containers  but keep them  to reuse them for food, to craft at school or to put all the “treasures” that your children are finding…).

Why not to start with reusable tissues (when you don’t have a bad cold) and table napkin? Did you think about reusable batteries instead of single use? If you do go to a zero-waste shop or bio shop, you might fill in reusable bottle with shampoo, soap and cleaning products that you don’t/can’t make.

If you can sew, you can make new clothes from the one you never use; or bags for kids to go swimming,… You can use your grand-mother curtains to make reusable shopping bags for vegetable and fruits (see the picture on top: my non-professionally home-made bags). Or just buy reusable bags.

What you have left (should not be much anymore), hopefully you can RECYCLE. But don’t forget that the process of recycling is also requiring energy! I also thought, wrongly, that recycle would be first step. But it makes sense to use it as a “last solution”.

Check at the container park close by your home/work; you will be surprise of all the things you can recycle! In Mortsel (nearby Antwerp), they recycle plastic bags and all kind of hard/soft plastic!

It is easier to sort if you make some place close to where the waste is produced. If you have to cross the entire house, or go to the end of your garden… it will ended in your kitchen/living/cellar for some time, then you will get irritated to have it at the wrong place and you might throw it away in the normal garbage.

Last but not least: ROT. All what you can compost, try to compost it. The pioneer of zero waste (Bea Johnson) explains different techniques on her blog. Nowadays, you can find exactly what fits you: cheap/costly, small or big, for garden or window sill,… and you’ll need to buy less ground or fertilizer for your plants!

Good luck!

Anali

PS: If you liked my post, don’t hesitate to “like” it, and to share it to friends and family!