Today is Earth Day and it got me thinking of a few things I have learned with my dear friend Mamoun Ghallab from the blog Zero Zbel Xperience about how to reduce waste. He has tought me a few things that I have been implementing the past days in my life that I would like to share with you.
But first a little thought. What is really worrying about the waste question, is the extent to which people do not seem to be aware of the huge impact each one of us have on the planet. We tend to hide behind the fact that we are billions in this planet and that not recycling one plastic bottle won’t make a difference. But it does. Or we hide behind the fact that companies should be developing products with new responsible packagings and that everything is their fault. And the truth? We are all responsible into making sure our planet won’t become a big dumping. The good news? When one single individual reduces waste, he/she it makes a actually a BIG difference, and it is pretty easy. So let’s start by the first vilain: the nasty plastic.
Avoid the evil shopping plastic bags to reduce waste.
A few facts
According to the Worldwatch Institute, Americans throw away 100 billion plastic grocery bags per year (Worldwatch Institute). The average American family brings home 1500 plastic shopping bags per year (National Ressources Defense Council). Knowing that scientists estimate each square mile of ocean contains 46 000 plastic bags, it takes only 30 years to claim your square mile of ocean polluted with plastic bags… To end this fact & figures, I would like to end with the fact that it takes 1000 years for a bag to breakdown.
So how can we help? Go for the tote bag!
Make sure you always have cotton tote bags in the trunk of your car of folded in your handbag or backpack. Otherwise, before going to the grocery stores try to remember to always take your bags from home. And in case you forgot them and only realize that at the cashing desk, go for the paper shopping bags, much better for the planet 🙂 .
Do you really want to drink from a plastic bottle?
A few facts
Americans drink from 30 million plastic bottles everyday according to inhabitat. But hey, no problem: they are recycled right? Wrong. 80% of them end up in the landfill and only 14% of all water bottles are recycled according to this same source.
So how can we help? Go for tap water (but improved!)
Tap water makes you save. According to Banthebottle.net, one year of tap water will cost you 0.49$ while water bottles will cost you an average of 1400$ a year that you could use instead to go on holidays. Not bad right? And if you are worried about the taste of the tap water a few tricks:
- Buy a water filter to reduce waste. I know it is in plastic, but 1 water filter replaces the equivalent of 300 water bottles.
- Add a few drops of lemon juice to your water or do like me and create delicious infused waters (I will post some recipe ideas later in the blog), which your guests will love by the way.
- As Mamoun, buy a water bottle (in glass of course 😉 )that you can always have with you so no need to buy a small water bottle on the street when you are thirsty.
Be a conscious buyer, do you really need to buy that product with tons of plastic?
A few facts
Open your fridge and take a look at how many products have more than one packaging layer. It is a question therefore of quantity of waste but also of quality of waste. The food industry uses different types of plastics, which not only have sometimes serious health impacts but also ecological ones. For PVC, which is present in food wrappings for example, less than 1% of it can be recycled. Polystyrene (which contains carcinogen benzene) is rarely recycled and takes 57 different chemicals to be made being the 5th largest generator of hazardous waste.
So how can we help? Choose the product with the least plastic packaging.
When I was food shopping with Mamoun in a supermarket he made me look at the fruit & vegetable section (supposed to be the green and healthy part of a supermarket) and pointed out at the crazy amount of plastic packaging around the “fresh food”. Each cucumber was packed individually, each bell pepper, tomatoes were wrapped by grapes in plastic containers and so were mushrooms, green beans, etc… Your action as a customer? Pick the vegetables that are unpacked and put them in a paper bag. Looking for honey? Pick the one that is in a glass jar and not in a plastic squeeze packaging. Another tip from Zero Zbel Xperience: avoid single-unit containers!
The plastic’s journey by projectaware.org