The fact that we are destroying the planet through waste, that production and product supply exceeds demand, that the earth is suffocated by plastics and that this causes enormous problems, is well known to all. But how is an individual to fight that? It is indeed like fighting the windmills! You can try to limit unnecessary use of plastics, not buy products in containers and packaging, focus on domestic production and purchases directly from farmers. This is a simplified basis of Waste Free lifestyle (i.e. Zero Waste).
The futility of it all comes home to you when you look at people buying cartons of small packaged soft drinks, overflowing rubbish bins and their littered surroundings, plastic bags flying in the breeze, shoppers complaining that they don´t get a free plastic bag with their purchase.
The idea to try Waste Free lifestyle was a prompt of my friend who lives that way. The surprise when I found out that almost everything may be replaced by package-free goods and that everything which seems to be the only possible disposable product has a long-standing and recyclable alternative?!
My "waste free week” started by shopping. In Prague there is a store where you can get any bulk goods by weight. You come with your own containers or bags and everything is put directly into them - absolutely package free.
As regards chemist´s goods, I found a luxurious shop ´Nebaleno´. Shampoos, soaps, shower gels are bought after bringing your own containers. There is also shampoo in a firm block, not just in the usual liquid form. Instead of washing powder there are balls of soap, in place of toothpaste there are tablets which you chew. Even a deodorant stick is in a packaging that can be fully recycled on a compost heap. Even dishwasher gel and preparations for cleaning are bought by weight. You can get here menstrual pads made of fabric, make-up removing pads, and other substitutes of disposable goods.
The shop was founded by a charming couple, Alex and Jan, who during their journey through Central America found out how little they really need to life. And Waste Free is exactly what this is all about: to buy as little as possible, as ecologically as possible, and create minimum waste.
I ordered vegetables and fruit via svetbedynek.cz. The company World of Boxes s.r.o. (Svět bedýnek) was founded in 2010 at a time when farmers´ markets were not yet frequent in the Czech Republic while the system of boxes has been successfully working for more than twenty years in England, the Netherlands as well as Germany. Via the internet you simply order what you need and they will deliver the fruit and vegetables in a paper box, which you then return with your next purchase. The produce is from local farmers or from European farms. Because of freshness, salads and leaf vegetables are packaged separately, potatoes also, due to soiling. The aim of this successful business is also to reduce the consumption of plastics, which is why they started to use paper bags.
Another option is farmers' markets. And if none are near your place, take into the shops your own bags and put your shopping in them; at the check-out you just take everything out.
As regards bakery products, in every bakery they will without any problem put your purchases directly into your canvass bags. At the butcher´s you may be regarded as being slightly odd, but if you behave as if it is normal to let them put slices of ham directly into your box, they will do it.
I get up in the morning and head for the bathroom. I chew the toothpaste tablet and clean my teeth. I wash with a lemon-scented decanted soap, I clean my face with a washable cotton pad soaked in water and few drops of olive oil. I shower with decanted shower gel, wash my hair with luxuriously scented hard shampoo, use purely natural solid deodorant, put on a bit of makeup and hurry to a meeting.
I won´t buy coffee on the way, since I don´t yet have my own. At the meeting with the client I accept the cappuccino but reject sugar, since it is packaged. I have lunch in my favourite restaurant where there is no problem. I stroll through a shopping mall, refusing the offered leaflets, rejecting also a sample of luxurious cream in a small tube. I quash my thirst with water which I carry in my handbag. The craving for something sweet has to pass - unfortunately everything is packaged. There is a crisis coming later on, but I stick to it and buy a banana. I get to the office, where there are no surprises since I have organised everything I need.
At home I put the washing on, but instead of powder I place in the washing machine soap nuts in a linen sachet. I add fabric softener for fragrance. Soap nuts really do work! Even the dishwasher gel later on wasn´t a disappointment! I dine at home, a dish made of luxury ingredients which I had purchased in advance, without packaging.
In the evening I go for a drink with a friend. When ordering a mojito I forget to warn the staff that I don´t want a straw and there is one there already. The first sin! The next time I have to be better equipped. At Nebaleno you can even get metal straws which you can carry with you anywhere and use again and again! And, attention, there is even a special cleaning device! A luxurious thought, don't you think?
At home I wash with decanted soap, take the makeup off as I did in the morning, clean my teeth with “toothpaste tablet” and I go to sleep with a great feeling that it can really be managed! It just takes a bit of practice. And what about you, do you also wish to limit plastics in your life and waste in general? There is nothing difficult about it, believe me! And the feeling is well worthwhile...