Zero Waste Approach for the New School Year
Two years ago, Kenya imposed the world's toughest law against plastic bags. Kenyans producing, selling or even using plastic bags risk imprisonment of up to four years or fines of $40,000. The East African nation joined more than 40 other countries that have banned, partly banned or taxed single use plastic bags, including France. Many bags drift into the ocean, strangling turtles, suffocating seabirds and filling the stomachs of dolphins and whales with waste until they die of starvation. Did you know that every year an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide? That comes out to over one million per minute! According to David Barnes, a marine scientist with the British Antarctic Survey, plastic bags have gone “from being rare in the late 80s and early 90s to being almost everywhere.” Plastic bags have been found floating north of the Arctic Circle near Spitzbergen, and as far south as the Falkland Islands. As a result, fish eat plastic which is coated in bacteria and algae, mimicking their natural food sources. That means we literally eat plastic in our fish for dinner!
With the new school year starting, our goal should be to waste less in order to ensure our planet stays healthy. Healthy planet means healthy soil, healthy food and healthy people. Below you will find some tips and resources for a (almost) zero waste lifestyle.
Tips to stop wasting
1. Avoid buying packaged food. The majority of your food should come from your farmer's market, from your garden or from the veggies and fruit aisle in your grocery store. Shops with a zero waste approach are starting to flourish everywhere around the world. If a shop assistant offers you a plastic bag, gently deny. Either bring your own containers or use paper bags for fresh produce, nuts, seeds, flour etc. Paper bags are a good option as they can be composted or recycled. It gets a bit trickier when buying meat unless you have a butcher who sells grass fed meat without plastic packaging (which is almost impossible in France). Do not buy plastic bottles. Only 1 out of 5 plastic bottles is recycled. More than 100 million plastic bottles are used worldwide every day! Instead, recycle glass bottles and jars.
2. Compost all scraps from veggies and fruit, egg shells etc. Good resource on how to start composting can be found here. You can have a compost even if you live in an apartment.
3. Instead of a plastic food wrap, use beeswax wraps, which can be easily made at home. Check out the video 15 savvy alternatives to plastic.
Get inspired by one of the gurus of Zero waste lifestyle, Bea Johnson and her site Zero Waste Home. She even created a video on school supplies shopping. Or check out The Clean Bin Project, a movie where a young couple decides to create as little garbage as possible.