What a (Zero) Waste

My baby steps to life with lesser trash

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

After staying at home for more than 5 months during the Covid-19 lockdown, I noticed that 75% of what I bought contain something that I will end up throwing away afterward: from food packaging to beauty products.

Living in Germany makes me sort my garbage and recycle regularly. However, I still carry a grocery bag filled with trash almost every week. This makes me curious: where does our trash go?

The answer is that the vast majority of our waste goes into landfills where it’s (often) covered up, according to the report from the World Bank.

And these sites are pretty ugly. Not only for the environment, but for the people who live around the area too. In recent years, landslides of waste dumps have buried homes and people under piles of waste. And it is the poorest who often live near landfills, leaving them susceptible to serious health repercussions.

It will be super hard for me to adopt zero waste lifestyle overnight. And if I try and make that significant of a life change happen immediately, chances are, it is not going to stick.

The most efficient way is to create small habits that I can incorporate painlessly on a regular basis. Everyone has to start somewhere, and this is how I started.

1. Bring my own coffee mug

This is probably the easiest, but it still needs my conscious effort to pack my own coffee mug in my bag every time I go out.

The incentive is a lot of café offers a discount for those who bring their own mug. So not only I take a little step to help the environment, but I can also save some money!

2. Make my own oat milk

Initially I thought this was a crazy and unpractical Idea. Why though? I would have never thought that I could do this in million years. Then my friend shared me a DIY recipe to make a nut milk. And it is such no-brainer, I had no excuse but to try.

Now I stop buying milk at the supermarket and I have been making my own oat milk on a weekly basis. It is so easy! If you want to give it a shot, here is my recipe for non-slimy & creamy oat milk.

3. Bring my own food container

This one requires a bit of an effort as I consciously need to remember to bring my own lunch box if I plan to go to a restaurant. In case I need to takeaway some leftover food, I do not need to use the plastic packaging from the restaurants.

However, the tough part for me was actually to get over my shame. I was feeling shameful to ask the waiter to pack the food in my lunchbox. As a lot of events in my life, this shameful and fearful scenario only appears in my head.

The moment I started doing it, the level of shame started to reduce on its own. The waiter did not even care which container I use. Oh man.

4. Pick any trash on my way

It’s a simple theory, but difficult to implement. This practice also makes me realise how much garbage lying on the street. I just picked one seconds ago, now here comes another one. It is infinity.

My biggest obstacle to do this is the distance that separates me and the trash can. Now I only do it, when it is convenient. It means that there is a trash can within 5 meter radius of my location.

These are the very small steps that I try to implement on regular basis. It might not provide a significant impact to the environment, but I could already feel the effect on my mindset.

It makes me more aware of my surrounding and I am more conscious on the things I consume. I buy less things and I spend more on the experience. My life is richer.

However, I’m just baby steps into the process myself. So what do you say to doing this together with me?

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