Iva Stevović Profile Photo
by Iva Stevović
10 min read

Table of Contents

Introduction

Welcome to the Plastic Age, as scientists have named it, with many types of research showing plastic pollution has rapidly been increasing in the past few decades. Therefore I guess it’s safe to say this topic is not new. We have been introduced to this environmentally changing moment for some time now.

Looking at how plastic came to be, and what it brought, it was somewhat revolutionary. Life-saving devices were brought to medicine, space travel became possible, incubators, equipment for clean water drinking, and many more. The conveniences plastics offer, however, led to throw-away culture. Today, single-use plastic takes roughly about 40% of plastic production per year. These products wrap our food, “help” it’s delivery from supermarkets to our doors, beverages are taken to-go. They may be used for five minutes or few hours, but the amount of time it takes for them to decay takes centuries. Honestly, it’s scary to even think about these consequences. Truthfully, it might feel like a huge amount of pressure. As if everything is up to you to change, and no responsibilities for others to take. Questioning what actions to be made, or simply is there a point to begin dealing with such requirements. But the harsh truth being, if we don’t start now, where will we be tomorrow?

Location: Lorenzer Platz, Nürnberg, Deutschland Markus Spiske.

Location: Lorenzer Platz, Nürnberg, Deutschland Markus Spiske.

The zero-waste movement doesn’t expect people to do perfectly. Nothing “environmentally changing” expects perfection. All that is needed is desire, dedication, and discipline. We might even call this “the triple D” from now on. Somewhat catchy, and memorable. We would like you to think about implementing some small simple changes that are doable for you personally. It’s very important to not feel pressured into doing something like it’s a must. This is a lifestyle, so let’s make it your own.

A pile of coffee to go cups in New York City Jasmin Sessler.

A pile of coffee to go cups in New York City Jasmin Sessler.

Guidelines

We were thinking of creating a short “Beginners guide” where we can talk about these small and simple changes. To begin this segment, we thought FOOD is the root and should be the first topic we go through. I’m honestly very fond of this topic. Food has forever been my passion, and if you are in any way like me, you also saw how easily garbage can pile up when you start cooking. It’s a never-ending cycle. Veggie peels, plastic bags, plastic wraps, store-bought packaging, and many more. But, don’t you worry, I got your back. Here are my few tips on how to, for starters, reduce waste as much as you can:

Plan Ahead

The first problem we need to cover is buying compulsively and in large. So many rotten tomatoes and moldy bread have been thrown by all of us ‘cause we weren’t aware of what, and how much we need. This is nothing to be ashamed of. It takes a bit of practice to learn how to estimate the amount that should be bought.

Ask yourself what you eat the most throughout the week, start from there. Me personally, I consume a variety of veggies, tomatoes, bread, oats, bananas, apples, cookies, and peanut butter. A strange list, I know - I know, but it is what it is. Knowing what I eat the most helps me understand how much I should buy. It’s also very good to know what amount of time it takes for your favorites to go bad. For instance, I can’t leave broccoli and carrots uneaten for too long, unlike potatoes and rice that don’t require such immediate consumption, and so on. I’m sure you know what you throw away the fastest in your house, and how long it takes to wilt and become unappealing, so all that is left is to start acting accordingly. At this point, it’s important to just be aware of yourself, and your needs. They change as you change, but understanding what they are currently, not looking at what they were or might be, gives you the best perspective on how much to purchase.

Meal Prep

Knowing how to plan what you buy, leads you to know what you’re going to make. This isn’t just going to help you create less trash, it’s also nice to know you have already prepared meals waiting to be reheated after a long day at work. Isn’t that wonderful? Coming back home and not feeling the pressure of what you have to cook, or being forced to order in (where you’re left with more garbage) ‘cause you don’t have enough energy to prepare anything.

What I mostly like to do is have my chill weekend. Go grocery shopping, spend few hours preparing Sunday family lunch, and alongside cook something I feel like I might enjoy throughout working days. Something like stew or curry gives me such joy. It’s hearty, fulfilling, a perfect comfort food. Making it just the way I like it, especially since I can even put in veggies that are about to go bad. There are honestly so many Youtube videos on how to take this meal prep, depending on your preferences, allergies, lifestyle, etc.

Tote-Bags

There are some things we carry on daily basis that are mandatory. For example, I can’t leave my house without my wallet, my keys, and my phone. Tote bag, if you ask me, should be added to the list. So many times have I found myself realizing I have something missing in my pantry or fridge, being in a position where I had to go to the store real quick not having my tote bag. Hence why we covered the importance of planning your grocery shopping. Countless times I happened to be in a situation I carried the things I bought in my hands, refusing to take plastic bags. It is a very funny scene, I still laugh at these moments, but they are also very realistic. And for those emergencies, it’s good to rely on knowing what you carry. Going to sound like an ad, but life has never been easier for me when I started using them. They have significantly reduced my daily plastic consumption.

Eco-bags

Before I confuse anyone, eco-bags are a bit different from tote bags. Nothing fancy, or specific about them, it’s just what they are meant to be used for. For instance, have you ever wondered how you can buy your veggies without plastic wraps or bags? Pretty sure you found yourself carrying vegetables in many separate plastic bags. And, when you choose to lower that “plastic” intake, it’s not so pleasant to have your cashier constantly nag ‘cause you brought, for example, five carrots to pay separately. So, it’s much easier to gather your veggie produces, measure them, and pay them afterward with these bags. They can be either bought or made. So many crafty DIYs, where you can maybe sew them from your old unused fabrics. Leaves you with many varieties, and it’s all up to you how and where you find them. Be creative!

Eco-Bags by from Vita.

Eco-Bags by from Vita.

Buy Locally

We’ll probably not just going to cover this on-going anti-plastic theme we have here. Buying locally makes a general environmental difference. It’s organic, it doesn’t travel by plane to get to your supermarket, which leaves a huge carbon print (we’ll talk a bit more on this topic later on). It’s also important to address how capitalism is taking over the food industry, and farmers are massively losing their jobs. Consumer society growing as rapidly as it does, has a huge effect. So, buying locally we both support our farmers and eat fresh products, it’s a win-win situation. Not to mention we actually get to know where these products are coming from, ‘cause farmers always get a bit chatty and love to share this information with us.

Blush Lane - Organic Market.

Blush Lane - Organic Market.

Cooking

Not that big of a mystery, am I right? But kind of goes hand in hand with “plan ahead” and “meal prep” concept. This is the moment you can go wild! Throughout my research I have found so many recipes you can cook, creating less or no waste. We might dig a bit deeper into this specific topic later on, but at the moment it’s just important for you to know that you don’t have to throw everything away. Not all things that we’ve been told to dispose are inedible. A great moment to rethink the things that we have been thought, and actually question them for starters, hopefully resulting in a lot more experimenting.

For example, banana peel is amazing for some savory dishes. Yea, that’s right, you’ve read it correctly. It is bananas! Onion and carrot scraps can be used to make vegetable broth. Potato peels can be made into chips, or edible garnish if washed thoroughly. The same goes with butternut squash peels, carrot peels, or any veggie peel for that matter. Believe me when I say this, there are so many unspoken recipes that need more admiration. This even intensified my food passion, and I have a hunch it might do the same for you too.

Other

Since I couldn’t pick a specific 7th headline, an idea occurred to me. This might be an introduction to another “zero-waste” article in the making. How do we treat the trash we create? Do we recycle? Reuse? What’s composting? More details will be shared soon, but it seemed appropriate to introduce such things right away. ‘Cause, surprisingly, many are not aware of how to act and react. Another wild idea, you can always grow some herbs, and small edible plants, depending on your apartment situation and space you have. Such a fun project that’s very efficient. But we’ll dive into all of these more seriously next time, don’t worry.

Conclusion

This is probably completely out of your comfort zone, and we get how scary it might seem. We are not here to tell you how to do certain things, or how to live your life. Everything you do should be a decision you make, acting upon your desires and capabilities. What we want to accomplish with this is just showing you how easily things can be implemented into your daily routine. Nothing drastic needs to be changed, but changes are still mandatory.

Right now, it is more than just “saving the planet earth”. We should be aware that our actions create contaminated soil and water, which leads to us having micro-plastic, and other micro-contaminating-particles in our food. We are not putting just our lives in danger, rather leaving future generations with our mess to clean. If you ask me, it’s both juvenile and very selfish. Especially, since all that is needed is for us to be accountable for our actions, and be mature enough with our decisions. This takes no more energy than some tasks we already do on a daily.

Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I truly believe we can change this world for the better if we all start from somewhere. The sooner the better, so let’s start now.