Welcome, 2018! The new year has always represented the opportunity for new beginnings, and I must admit that I'm a sucker for recapping past years and listing new goals for the one to come. This year, I'd like to do more practicing than just preaching in terms of contributing towards a sustainable environment, and continue expanding my own zero-waste lifestyle.
Looking back, moving towards a zero-waste lifestyle is something that I've been doing kind of subconsciously for years. Moving house pretty much yearly has definitely been a significant factor in reducing my purchases as a consumer, because the truth is that the more things you own, the more things you have to move! Using reusable tote bags, swapping plastic containers for glass ones, buying in bulk and reducing my use of animal products are all things that I already do in my day-to-day life. However, I feel like I still have plenty of room for improvement which is why I wanted to make a list of five zero-waste New Year's resolutions I have for 2018.
1. Buy ONLY in bulk.
Currently, I buy the a large part of my fruits and vegetables in bulk and often at my local produce market. However, I'd like to take this habit up a notch and avoid buying packaged products all together. This includes bread (which I mostly make myself anyway), grains, cereals and any other food products that can be bought in bulk. Buying in bulk is often more expensive than buying packaged products but I can pinch those pennies elsewhere.
2. Buy fruits and vegetables ONLY in reusable produce bags.
Some time ago I purchased reusable produce bags from the Finnish Red Cross's online shop. The bag itself contributes to reducing plastic waste in the environment and part of the procedes go to the Finnish Red Cross organisation itself so it's a real win-win situation. On my most recent trip to Finland I visited back the actual physical shop (Tehtaankatu 1A, 00140 Helsinki) and purchased bags for many of my friends in Spain. Reusable produce bags are quite the rarity here, and whenever I use them in shops I always get tons of curious looks and comments.
As a consequence of the stares and raised eyebrows that I get, I sometimes feel shy using these bags, particularly at my local produce market where I buy most of my fruits and veggies! And then I resort to plastic. It's totally backwards, I know. So in 2018 I want to challenge myself to stop feeling insecure and think of the reactions I get from people as an opportunity to market these fantastic bags and introduce the idea of plastic reduction in my own, very local community.
3. Reduce my use of animal products.
During my late teens and early twenties I was a vegetarian/vegan, but since moving to Spain where tuna is often considered a vegetable, my vegetarian and vegan lifestyle has become a thing of the past. Currently my diet is mainly plant-based at home, but when eating out I don't shy away from meat dishes, cow's milk or seafood. More often than not, vegan versions are simply not available at the restaurants and cafes in my area. It's of course not an excuse but more a reality. I am fully aware of the horrendous effects livestock production has on the environment which makes my consumption of animal products even worse.
We already cook all of our meals at home from scratch, including making our own bread and pasta sauce. The only real dairy product I frequently use is Greek yoghurt. A few times a month we eat meat grown in the region and sold by our butcher down the street, as well as locally sourced fish that we purchase at the market. However, even little consumption is still more than no consumption and a fully plant-based diet is what we should all strive for if we really care for the planet.
I feel like this is the area that will cause the most challenges for me. Many of the meat substitutes available at my local supermarket are packed with artificial colorants and preservatives, and have a somewhat off-putting appearance. I wonder if these products, many of which come wrapped in several layers of plastic, really are more environmentally friendly than locally grown, free-range meat sold by a butcher.
4. Give zero-waste gifts.
We often lead by example and what better way to introduce a zero-waste lifestyle to friends and family than giving zero-waste gifts. My family already has a fairly long tradition of giving non-material gifts such as dinner vouchers at special restaurants or tickets to the opera. I love both giving and receiving these kinds of gifts as they're often things that I would love to experience but don't get around to doing myself.
There are, however, many material gifts that fit a zero-waste lifestyle perfectly. For example, reusable produce bags and tote bags, bamboo cutlery, reusable coffee cups, glass tupperware(lid is plastic), cloth kitchen towels, silicone baking mats, DIY lip balm or even reusable straws are just a few great zero-waste gift ideas for friends and family who want
Although I'm a pretty lazy gift-giver in general (sorry friends and family!), in 2018 I'm going to make it a goal of mine to make sure all of the gifts I do give fit into the zero-waste mentality.
5. Make my own milk.
I primarily use plant-based milks in my diet although I do still drink my coffee with cow's milk when I'm out of the house. This is often due to the fact that milk alternatives are simply not available in most cafes where I live. Of course I have the option of learning to have my coffee black or dropping cafe coffees all together. Regardless, I've been thinking about making my own milk at home for a while now. On one hand I am genuinely curious about making milk at home, and on the other hand I feel inspired by the zero-waste movement that encourages reducing different forms of packaging.
So here are some of my zero-waste goals for this year! I'm going to check in within the next few months to see how my zero-waste year has started off and if necessary, hold myself accountable for the choices I'm making in 2018. I'd love to hear about any zero-waste goals you have and above all, tips and tricks that you've found useful along the way!
Disclaimer: None of the links in this post are affiliate or referral links, they're just products I came across while surfing the internet.