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Old 18.04.2015, 22:03
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On the way to zero waste

Hi there!

I had given-up on my first attempt to drastically reduce waste in my household when, recently, on March 27th I was totally re-energized by the testimony of Bea Johnson, the “Zero Waste Home” lady from California. As a matter of fact, she is French but lives in California. She gave an inspiring presentation at the EcoCongress in Basel.

It took her and her family two years to go from the average “we recycle what we can”, to the very ambitious and challenging “zero waste home”. As a result, it now takes them a whole year to fill a 1 Liter jar with stuff that can only go to the landfill. Can you believe that?

I strongly advise anyone interested in reducing the huge mass of waste going out of our homes every week to read her very useful practical tips at http://www.zerowastehome.com/. The most important advice I keep in mind is to Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and … Rot. And do it exactly in that order, starting to refuse the unnecessary.

I had a false start in 2012 when I attempted to reduce plastics and reduce the weight of our bin. I started going to the local market more, refuse packaging and composting vegetables and fruits peels next to our bikes parking place. The weight of the bin with unrecyclable stuff got lighter, from 1.5 kilograms down to 500 grams per person per week. But unfortunately the compost never really took off and I got discouraged.

I am therefore very happy to announce that with our family of 3 and a guest student, we have started the process of reducing waste to the max. We started with kitchen and food. The very first thing I did was to gather the necessary reusable jars, Tupperware, bread bags etc that can be used and reused when shopping for food. And we are in the process of (re-)discovering where to buy non packaged food. And this brings us back to the local farmers, bakery and market, which by itself is a pleasure

Maybe you are in a similar process and would like sharing experiences?

Enjoy the week-end!

Joelle
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Old 19.04.2015, 08:57
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Re: On the way to zero waste

Interesting!

A couple of years ago while traveling to Haiti to visit our daughter, we took a boat trip and were HORRIFIED, by an oncoming RIVER OF TRASH!

Well, it got me thinking and now I can't help but feel guilty when I purchase detergent in huge plastic bottle, not meant for recycling.

Good ideas. Thanks for posting.
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Old 19.04.2015, 09:07
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Re: On the way to zero waste

Have you read about the whirling island of plastic and trash in the ocean? That would put you off plastic and other noncomposting material.
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Old 19.04.2015, 09:16
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Re: On the way to zero waste

Thank you Joherin for this interesting and inspiring post!
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Old 19.04.2015, 10:06
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Re: On the way to zero waste

Hi Joelle,

I saw an online docu about Bea Johnson some time ago and was really inspired by her way of living without waste. Sadly with both of us working and where we live in the Netherlands, we really strugled with time and options and ended up going to supermarkets and prepackaged anyway.

But now with our impending move to Zürich, and the expensive garbage disposal fees in mind, I'd like to give it a new try. So, please share your experiences and tips&tricks, and thanks for starting this thread!

Barbara
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Old 19.04.2015, 10:18
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Re: On the way to zero waste

Not going to extremes, but we as a family of five (all adults) have only one 30l bag of rubbish per week, which I think is pretty good. In the UK it was typically four times as much - or more.

In my town, there are communal compost heaps where you can take your organic waste. We have two within walking distance.
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Old 19.04.2015, 10:40
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Re: On the way to zero waste

Hi there, it's great to see that there is interest out there, thanks for your replies. And do share your practical tips on how to reduce waste, from packaging to foodwaste...

Today we're headed to the public tennis court in Meilen for a good hour of sports, and will then just climb slightly higher in the village to get some eggs, some vegetables and salami, no packaging. I will reuse the last egg box from Migros and plastic boxes for vegs and salami.

Have a great sunny day!
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Old 19.04.2015, 10:57
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Re: On the way to zero waste

But how do you do it?
If you refuse packaging, you only move the issue - not reduce it.
I like the initiative but my main issue is packaging. There is barely a way to avoid it, except perhaps by buying second hand goods.
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Old 19.04.2015, 11:12
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Re: On the way to zero waste

All politicians in all countries whilst looking for votes, seem to avoid even mentioning those issues dealing with our/my/your massive waste problems.
Cutting down on waste would mean a loss of jobs in the packaging and labelling industry, so of course there are many lobbies busy making sure that this doesn't happen.
The five slices of ham I buy each week at the butcher's are wrapped in paper. In the Migros - like every supermarket a den of iniquity as far as packaging is concerned - these five slices come in a thick plastic tray and a gummed plastic lid printed in four colours plus a printed label. Label production is one of the most wasteful printing processes that exist.
Peronally I'd welcome a system whereby every single piece of non-paper packaging carries a deposit. I saw a customer at the tills paying for a carton with 24 tiddly packs of ice-tea!! Each of them with its own straw. We really are nuts.
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Old 19.04.2015, 16:10
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Re: On the way to zero waste

Good afternoon!

Back from our sports and "shopping at the local farmers" Sunday morning, I can take some more time to answer to your comments and reactions:

@Susan57 and Laurie

Yes the horrendous accumulation of plastics in the rivers, seas and oceans is one of the driving forces setting me on this "zero waste " journey. Maybe some hope: have you heard about the "Ocean Clean-up", started my the young Dutch Boyan Slat? A very promising project aiming at collecting vast fractions of those plastics ending-up in the oceans.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROW9F-c0kIQ

@DutchBee / Barbara

Wishing you the best in moving to the Zürich area, I find it a great place to live :-) (here since 2012).

I totally agree, when both partners are working full time and prefer shopping once a week as efficiently as possible, then we are drawn to supermarkets and are stuck with a mountain of packaging. We somehow need to take some distance from that way of life a little bit, maybe take more time (again) for simple things, like getting our food...

Moving provides an opportunity to change habits in a number of areas, and maybe that will be your chance to reduce packaging

@K_and_e

How to do it?

Concerning food and kitchen, here are some tips, from Bea Johnson ("the Zero Waste Home") which I am trying to apply more and more:

1. Buy in bulk or at the counter (for example at Coop Meilen I managed to get meat in my own plastic container, yessss, they said yesss! Migros on the other hand refuses it _ company regulation)

2. When you go shopping, bring your own reusable bags (for dry stuff such as bread etc.), jars or plastic containers (for wet items), bottles (for liquids)

3. If you can't buy in bulk or at the counter, find a supplier / farmer

I do experience that it takes a bit of time to find the places where we can buy in our own packaging. And also, very naturally by doing so, we come back to the local merchants and farmers, which fo many reasons is excellent.

@Busby

Yes deposits are a powerful way to make people bring back stuff and not throw it in the bin. But I think deposits make sense when we can effectively reuse the object such as glas bottles.

Now, going back outside, the weather is great around Zürich!
Cheers,

Joelle
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Old 19.04.2015, 18:08
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Re: On the way to zero waste

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...Well, it got me thinking and now I can't help but feel guilty when I purchase detergent in huge plastic bottle, not meant for recycling...
Our local Coop has recently started taking more plastic bottles, in a bin separate from the PET and milk bottles. You can put in bottles for laundry soap, salad dressings/oils, I think even yogurt pots, etc. Maybe see if there's one near you offering similar?

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...I like the initiative but my main issue is packaging. There is barely a way to avoid it, except perhaps by buying second hand goods.
Agreed. A lot of times the meats that are on sale are already pre-packaged and you can't get them at the regular meat counter. So you're stuck with bulky packaging or paying a lot more. Part of it is the convenience factor as well - It's cheaper for the store to package up 50 slices of pie/wähe in individual packs instead of needing to pay a clerk to stand there and dish them up to each customer.

Anyway a question - Does anyone have tips on what to do with the wooden strawberry boxes? Our local stores often sell kilos of strawberries in either stapled wooden boxes or heavy cardboard-ish boxes. So far the authorities have not fined us for disassembling the cardboard-ish ones and putting with the cardboard recycling. However we still have a number of the wooden boxes and I would like to get rid of them.
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Old 19.04.2015, 18:36
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Re: On the way to zero waste

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Anyway a question - Does anyone have tips on what to do with the wooden strawberry boxes? Our local stores often sell kilos of strawberries in either stapled wooden boxes or heavy cardboard-ish boxes. So far the authorities have not fined us for disassembling the cardboard-ish ones and putting with the cardboard recycling. However we still have a number of the wooden boxes and I would like to get rid of them.
I take ours to the local dechetterie (recycling centre) and put them in the wood container.

Last edited by Belgianmum; 19.04.2015 at 19:10.
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Old 19.04.2015, 20:13
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Re: On the way to zero waste

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I take ours to the local dechetterie (recycling centre) and put them in the wood container.
Thanks - There's a recycling center not far from us, but they are always handling huge stuff like cars, refrigerators, and washers so I assumed they don't handle personal or little household stuff . The website says they process wood too, so I will send them an email to ask for clarification and costs.
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Old 19.04.2015, 20:48
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Re: On the way to zero waste

The Internet isn't cleanly recyclable, even if reused tons. Please refrain from using it! And pass on your computers + phones, those aren't needed for zero waste living.
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Old 19.04.2015, 22:40
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Re: On the way to zero waste

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Have you read about the whirling island of plastic and trash in the ocean? That would put you off plastic and other noncomposting material.
AFAIK, they don't really form islands.
Because the plastic doesn't rot, the forces of the sea end up grinding them smaller end smaller until the fish take them up together with the plankton they consume.
These fish are then eaten by us humans at some point.
Ramifications?
Unknown. But AFAIK it has been shown that these micro particles aren't doing the best for the health of the fish who consume them.
Unlikely to be any different for people.

In a recent article somewhere on 20min or tagesanzeiger, it was mentioned that you can't bring reusable boxes to Coop and Migros and have them filled by the butcher.
Obviously, there's also no easy way to fill fruit and groceries in bags you bring because there's no way to subtract their weight.
I produce quite a lot of trash from these plastic bags.
But at least, I don't consume a lot of convenience food, which has an even worse packaging problem (most of my lunches are pre-cooked at home).
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Old 19.04.2015, 22:45
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Re: On the way to zero waste

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Hi there!

I had given-up on my first attempt to drastically reduce waste in my household when, recently, on March 27th I was totally re-energized by the testimony of Bea Johnson, the “Zero Waste Home” lady from California. As a matter of fact, she is French but lives in California. She gave an inspiring presentation at the EcoCongress in Basel.

It took her and her family two years to go from the average “we recycle what we can”, to the very ambitious and challenging “zero waste home”. As a result, it now takes them a whole year to fill a 1 Liter jar with stuff that can only go to the landfill. Can you believe that?

I strongly advise anyone interested in reducing the huge mass of waste going out of our homes every week to read her very useful practical tips at http://www.zerowastehome.com/. The most important advice I keep in mind is to Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and … Rot. And do it exactly in that order, starting to refuse the unnecessary.

I had a false start in 2012 when I attempted to reduce plastics and reduce the weight of our bin. I started going to the local market more, refuse packaging and composting vegetables and fruits peels next to our bikes parking place. The weight of the bin with unrecyclable stuff got lighter, from 1.5 kilograms down to 500 grams per person per week. But unfortunately the compost never really took off and I got discouraged.

I am therefore very happy to announce that with our family of 3 and a guest student, we have started the process of reducing waste to the max. We started with kitchen and food. The very first thing I did was to gather the necessary reusable jars, Tupperware, bread bags etc that can be used and reused when shopping for food. And we are in the process of (re-)discovering where to buy non packaged food. And this brings us back to the local farmers, bakery and market, which by itself is a pleasure

Maybe you are in a similar process and would like sharing experiences?

Enjoy the week-end!

Joelle
You force all your waste into the guest Student
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Old 19.04.2015, 23:35
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Re: On the way to zero waste

At my re-cycling centre we have containers for 4 types of plastics, cardboard, paper, wood, metal iron, metal aluminum, batteries, light bulbs, strip light tubes, corks, the usual glass, clothing, electrical and electronic stuff and polystyrene.

We are only about 5'000 citizens, and so why cannot every town provide the same service? The center is open about 8 hours each week, split over 4 days.

Maybe newbies do not realise that Switzerland has very few landfill sites, the ones they have are water tight and contain mainly heavy metalic ash. The big towns have efficient incinerators, designed to burn any household waste, the resulting heat is captured and used to heat buildings nearby.
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Old 20.04.2015, 10:44
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Re: On the way to zero waste

Very fast, in a thread like this, we end-up focussing on recycling, which we can do to a large extent in Switzerland (except for Tetrapac and some of the plastics...).

But if we truly want to use resources in a more sensible way and reduce waste, I do think we cannot avoid the two first steps of REFUSING and REDUCING:

1. Refusing the unnecessary: refusing unwanted promotional mail in our mailbox including from our favourite shops whose fidelity card we have in our purse (I never can refuse a fidelity card...). Refusing the light plastic bags used to weigh fruits/vegetables. Refusing the disposable paper napkins and throwable dishes for picnics, refusing the promotional throwable pen offered at a conference...

2. Reducing what we do need

Reducing the number of new DVDs, books, games.. by sharing to and borrowing from friends and neighbours, going to the library, using TV on demand or whatever...

3. Reusing everything we can reuse

Somethiing broken? Have it repaired! Do you need to buy something? Maybe it exists in second hand?

4. Recycling stuff thats has reached its end of life

5. Rotting or composting what can be composted

The more we work upstream the less hastle we have downstream :-)
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Old 20.04.2015, 19:58
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Re: On the way to zero waste

If you're looking for a food supplier around Zürich, where it might be easier to buy "unpacked", there's a number of farms and orchards around the Lake. Not been to all of them yet though!

- In Meilen/Feldmeilen (milk, veal meat, wine) http://www.haggenmacher.ch/

- In Feldmeilen (eggs, noodles, jams, honey...)(http://www.schlattgut.ch/

- In Meilen (eggs, salami, apples, applejuice, oignons, honey...) Burghof

- In Meilen (organic fruits and vegetables, incredibly tasting tomatos in season...) Brändli, also present at Bürkliplatz on Tuesday and Friday.

- In Kilchberg (eggs, fresh and dried meat veal/beef/porc, bread, apples, milk... ) http://www.stockengut.ch/

- In Adliswil (broad range of organice products) http://www.erlebnishof-tuefi.ch/

- In (broad range of products) http://www.hofmaercht.ch/http://www.hofmaercht.ch/
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