Category Archives: Plastic Waste

Zero Waste Birthday

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A Zero Waste Birthday – Is there such a thing? There might be but I still haven’t gotten there. My youngest son just turned 6 years old and we had his birthday party at our house.

Where we live is has become increasingly uncommom for parents to throw a kids birthday party at home. The trend is to rent out special venues that host your childrens birthday party. Most of these venues are all but ecofriendly, having the irresponsible throw away culture we have unfortunately been used to. Its a poor choice in regards to food quality and in sustainability.

I’m still getting used to being back in Porto after living in Italy for three years. I miss the sense of community, the parents engagement with each other, promoting events and days out for the whole classroom. Everytime there was a birthday party, all parents would join in for the entire afternoon. Here its extremely uncommon for this to happen – at least that’s my experience.

At home there is a bigger chance of reducing the amount of waste you create. I set the table without any tablecloth – that meant less washing. I used ceramic plates, silver cutlery and normal glasses and had to use paper napkins as I didn’t have enough cloth ones.

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zero-waste-kids-birthday

To drink there was water, lemonade and some juice, diluted with water and wine for the adults.

We are not vegetarians although we rarely eat meat at home, so to eat there were some fruit skewers, mini sausage rolls, bread with ham, chips, chocolate cake, cheese and bread, and another peach cake, which I didn’t manage to photograph :/

Not the healthiest of options but hey, its a special ocasion!

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zero-waste-kids-birthday-party

The birthday cake was just divine. It was freshly made of chocolate with a strawberry white cream. I used an old candle from my oldest son and placed some lego toys for some decoration. I think it turned out just great, and I’m hoping you agree with me.

So what are your thoughts on birthday parties? What other tricks do you use, please let me know, as I would love to improve next time!

Zero Waste Kids Essential Kit

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Don’t beat yourself up if you forget that item, be it a napkin, a straw or a container so you can take home your lefovers, as the world won’t end because of it. At the end of the day millions of plastic packaging is going to be thrown out to the trash on that same day. But don’t let it make you surrender, because what we as consumers are doing is by far more important than the latter. We are the pioneers in an evolutionary change of consciousness. We are merely planting seeds, and just like seeds they might seem small and insignificant, but we all know what come out of them.

So next time you will do better. Next time you will be more organised and prepared for the unexpected, and this is what we must keep on saying to ourselves.

I am still learning as I guess all of you are but I would like to share with you my Kids Kit essentials when we’re out and about. (Please bear in mind that my kids are 5 and 8 yrs old so I’ve passed the nappy and the bring your own food for the baby phase!)

ZERO WASTE KIDS ESSENTIAL KIT:

1. REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE

I usually take one that’s big enough for both of them and they usually share it. We do refills from tap water if we need to.

2. REUSABLE STRAWS

This was a must item to buy as they would have a melt down everytime I would refuse a plastic straw.

All the drama has dissapeared and they do love using them.

3. CLOTH NAPKIN

I take a couple of cloth napkins so we cut down on our use of paper napkins.

4. CONTAINER/ LUNCHBOX

One thing I absolutely cannot bear is food waste. When we eat out all our leftovers come back with us in a small container. We strive to eat everything up but businesses keep pumping up the size of the individual portion. Sometimes depending on the place, we order the kids menu’s as they are substantially smaller or we order one plate for them to share. In Porto, where we live, there is a city hall campaign for restaurants to promote this action of taking home your leftovers, without any shame that might be associated with it. So in case you forget to bring along your container, the restaurant will provide you with a sustainable, biodegradeble option. I just love how they have set up an example!

5. ICE CREAM SPOON

After living in Italy for 3 years this was an essential 🙂 it was a always a struggle to refuse the plastic ones in our local gelataria. Most of the times we were unsuccessful, either they were to fast and stuck the plastic spoon on top, or they would use the plastic spoon to keep the icecream in place and just threw it out afterwards! It was painful, but eventually we were known as the ones who refused the plastic spoons, and would always receive a smirk from the owners.

So this is it. It doesn’t take much to cut out on some waste.

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Plastic. An Epidemic

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Before deciding to make a comitment to change our lifestyle I was very aware of the plastic epidemic our world is currently facing, but I simply believed there was no way around it. That we as a society we’re doomed to suffocate in our own “technological advancement”.

Little did I know how wrong I was. There is a movement happening right now and you too can and should get involved. Social Media platforms have brought us together. We are now all connected and determined to change our society. This connectedness only emphazises this movement even more, as we realise our indivudual efforts are not alone. Little by little, we are the change the world needs.

That does not mean the road to change is easy, or that we don’t feel desperate sometimes. My weekly produce shopping has become some what of a struggle in finding the best options for my family whilst moving into a zero waste lifestyle. I find myself going to 2 or 3 different businesses in order to keep my waste to a minimum. Do not be fooled – I am still very far from living zero waste, but be assured I am doing my absolute best in keeping my comitment.

Going to a supermarket and walking through ailes of plastic is truly depressing. Looking at people’s shopping cart and see it filled with plastic makes me wonder what will it take to change our habits.

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Of course we as consumers should buy as a politcal act but sometimes this is simply not possible. There might not be bulk or farmers markets options close to where you live. Or we might have such a busy schedule that the thought and effort of putting a zero waste life into practice just makes you feel overwhelmed.

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But here are some steps we can all take, with a simple email, phonecall or conversation:

  • We have to demand our goverments to make laws simply prohibiting the manufacturing of single use plastic. One country (France) has already done this so there is no reason why more aren’t doing the same.
  • We have to questions brands and there packaging design. Contact them asking why are they producing so much single use waste and what their plans are for a change.
  • Write to your local supermarket and again question them on their not so friendly environmental practices.
  • Talk to your family and friends about our plastic epidemic and show them what you’re doing to be part of the solution.
  • Inspire your kids. Talk to them and explain how crucial our choices are for their future.
  • Keep yourself connected to the change gamers out there. Follow accounts that inspire and educate you. Be part of the movement start your own sharing!

 

My first shopping trip with a zero waste mindset

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When starting out in a zero waste lifestyle one has to keep in mind the time that these changes can take to implement, but a few things are pretty basic and can start having an immediate effect on the amount of waste your household produces.

After educating myself (thanks for A Zero Waste Home blog and then book) of all the basic and simple changes I could make on my weekly shopping, I went for it, knowing how hard it was going to be.

So to start with, I went to a smaller organic shop which I had already previously scouted as to know if I could take my newly acquired mesh produce bags.

I focused on fruit and vegetables as I have come to realise that this is where I could really make a difference each week. Bulk isn’t available in my area so all the basics, like pasta, rice, etc. have still to be bought in a plastic package – but I will leave this subject for another post.

In a small purchase I managed to save 6 plastic or paper bags from being used. I thought it was a good start 🙂

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For those of you who feel overwhelmed going zero waste (which I know its easy to feel so) here are some of the steps I’m taking to make some changes.

Simple and easy steps to start with now:

  1. Buy or make mesh bags for produce (fruit and veggies mainly)
  2. A sturdy bag to carry them in
  3. A reusable water only bottle (carry at all times, kids are always thirsty!)
  4. Drink tap water – install a filter in your water supply or if you’re like me in a temporary home, buy a filtered water bottle. Mine is made of plastic but I focus at the plastic being saved every week from plastic bottles.
  5. Buy or make cloth napkins and erase paper towels or napkins today.
  6. Stop using cling film, cover food with either a plate or some beewax wraps
  7. Make your own washing detergent (washing soda, white wine vinegar and any essential oil of your taste, works magically).
  8. Ditch the liquid soap and use a soap bar preferably without plastic packaging. I’m currently using Lush’s soap bars
  9. When shopping choose glass over plastic packaging, it’s healthier for you and the environment.
  10. For the ladies ditch tampons and plastic pads and use either a mentrual cup or cloth pads.
  11. Clean your floors with hot water, a cup of vinegar and a few drops of essential tea oil.
  12. Refuse all the plastic you possibly can

On my to do list:

    1. Make my own dishwasher detergent
    2. Make some toothpaste and try it with the kids!
    3. Find alternatives for coffee filters and/or machines

Keep searching for glass alternatives to plastic packaging

I am surprised at how once you enter a zero waste mindset, how easy it is to implement these changes in your life. The alternatives have always been there but we are too busy, too tired and too used to going to a supermarket and buy what they tell us to buy. So it does take a little time, but we as consumers have all the power on our side. We just have to use it, and remember that there are thousands of us making these choices everyday. So don’t feel discouraged in the plastic ailes of supermarkets, make your choices wisely. I am finding the best option is to shop in small local businesses.

What are your thoughts? What are your struggles? Let me know in the comments!