Did you know that as of 2012, cities around the world generated 1.3 billion tons of solid waste? That amounts to a footprint of 1.2 kilograms per person per day – a figure that’s expected to nearly double by 2025. Whatever your personal feelings about sustainable living may be, there’s no denying that we have a trash problem on our hands.
To tackle this growing crisis, many have embraced a life of zero waste living whereby enthusiasts aim to create as little waste as possible in their day-to-day lives. As big believers in doing what we can to save the planet, we’re huge fans of the zero waste philosophy – as seen here and here. We’ve even created a FREE printable meal planner so you can jump right in on the bandwagon in style. Next up on our waste-free journey, we’re exploring zero waste packaging alternatives with our friends TC and Raphael from Edgar – Hong Kong’s first ever bulk grocery shopping experience. Read on to find out more.
One of the biggest challenges with zero waste living is knowing what to replace everyday plastic packaging with. Can you talk us through some of the more sustainable options available to us?
TC: A lot of wasteful packaging occurs when we are dining out or grabbing our morning tea and coffee. Those single use plastic stirrers for example, are such a waste if you consider that you just stir it for a couple of seconds and then dump it. Something reusable in stainless steel, such as these cat teaspoons, are much better.
Stainless steel straws are another popular zero waste must have item if you regularly use plastic straws. They come in many different sizes and many different lengths. Here at Edgar, we stock bent ones and straight ones. We used to have the bubble tea ones but we ran out because they’re so popular.
To carry your straw and teaspoon stirrer around, you can get these colorful pouches. They’re very flexible with what you can put in them and they come in many different designs. They’re very convenient actually – they don’t take up too much space in your bag.
Reusable utensils are particularly good for people who travel or eat out a lot. All you have to do is wipe them clean, put them away in your pouch and wash them afterwards. It’s so easy.
How about when it comes to grocery shopping?
TC: In terms of packaging for grocery items, something as simple as a glass jar works.
If glass jars aren’t convenient for you, then you can use cotton bags for smaller items like sunflower seeds. If you buy really good quality eco-friendly ones, then all you have to do for maintenance is wash them afterwards.
Net bags are also really good. You can carry so much in them because they stretch. They also come in different lengths so you can carry them on your shoulder or just hold them. Also consider using newspaper to wrap your vegetables in – just like our grandma’s used to do!
It’s important to remember that zero waste is not about going out to buy something new and resusable. If you have plastic containers already at home, use them and wear them out before buying something new.
Do you have any tips for how to get started with living a zero waste lifestyle?
Raphael: We see that with a lot of our customers, the first thing they buy when they want to go zero is a metal straw. After that, definitely the next step is the water bottle. These are already two steps that make a huge difference. Every day on the planet we throw away 500 million straws, so if you can contribute to make it so that there is only 499,999,999 plastic straws wasted per day instead of half a billion, then that already makes a difference.
TC: Try to have fun with it. Don’t get stressed about it. Zero waste is an eventual goal. Everything you do is part of the journey.
What has been the most difficult thing about adopting a zero waste lifestyle?
Raphael: I have kids and we tried the reusable diapers but it didn’t work for us. We gave it our best try but managing a baby is like managing a nuclear factory that’s always on fire. It’s something we just practically couldn’t do.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about the zero waste lifestyle?
Raphael: The biggest drag I hear is that it doesn’t make a difference, but that is a psychological barrier – an excuse not to do anything.
TC: That you can literally go zero waste. It’s almost impossible because what you consume is part of a supply chain. Even if your household is zero waste, you can’t take away from the equation the waste that the manufacturers have produced on your behalf. Zero waste is a goal, it’s something everybody needs to work on for a better future.
Our thanks goes to TC and Raphael from Edgar! To find out more about the products featured have a browse of the Edgar site or pop into their store in the K11 Art Mall, Shop 201, Level 2.
What do you think about the zero waste lifestyle?