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My First Month as Zero Waste

by Lidia Kovac 3 years ago in habitat

The reality of the low impact movement

The first half of september is gone and it’s been officially one month since I started my green journey. If you want to know more about how I was planning to start, check out my post on vocal. There were seven things I wanted to accomplish before 2020, and it’s time to check in on my journey and see where I got to.

I will not go over any single goal I set in my last story, but I will try to make a general discussion on what I am finding really difficult, what are the obstacles of going low impact in Italy, and as a student.

First of all, Italy is not ready. There are so many things that we are literally not allowed to do, and by far, in my city (a big city, mind you, not a 300 people village) has only ONE bulk shop, which only sells pasta and grains, NO water refill stations whatsoever, and I think ONE detergent station, all across the city. Yes, I could go there once a month and buy in bulk, but there are two problems doing that: first, I live with my parents, and they decide when, how, and where to go grocery shopping. My mom in particular does not have a car, so she cannot commit to a one hour journey with three or four detergent bottles. Second, I should not be forced to travel around and use a whole day just to buy pasta that doesn’t have plastic around it, or to buy some tea leaves. Another thing that makes me furious are the supermarkets. There is a lot of them, but none of them has a way you can use your own produce bag. You have to weigh your produce by yourself, and there is no way to change the tare of the regular plastic bags (about two or three grams?) with the one from the reusable ones (40 grams). I mean, I could pay the extra if it was cucumbers or potatoes, but what about berries? 50 grams of berries could be about five to six euros, why should I add three euros more to that? Just to get to the till and being said from the cashier that I must use a plastic bag, because the price is already set with the cost of that?

Pretty unmotivating.

So no bulk section, no water fountains, no detergent station, plastic bags only. What next? To-go food and drinks. You cannot, by law, give your cup or container in restaurants, because for the HACCP rules (the Italian hygiene code for restaurants and bars) they are not allowed to bring anything from our side of the counter to theirs.

There is one positive thing I have to say. Fast food as McDonalds are starting to move. They still cannot take your cup, but they ditched plastic lids, and only give you straws if you ask for them. This is a nice thing that required them no effort and no money whatsoever, and that I think everybody appreciates.

This, for what concerns grocery and food in general, is my experience in my first month of trying to produce less waste. It’s being a bit of a failure, and my city doesn’t even have a zero waste local group to confront with, while there are in other cities such as Rome.

Let’s talk swaps. I have made three big swaps: toothbrush, metal straw, and a menstrual cup.

The toothbrush is awesome, it works well and makes me want to brush my teeth every time I see it around. The menstrual cup has already saved me (my father really) dozens of euros on pads, but the metal straw is not coming in handy. I used to drink a lot more happy-hours and cocktails, but then, for some health related issues, I stopped and only drank water for months. That made me understand that I really didn’t need that alcohol in my life, and now I hardly drink any beer when I am celebrating or on holiday. So, why did I even buy a metal straw? My first mistake, I guess. I still use it, and try to more often in the future, but I am a grown up and learned how to drink from the glass 20 years ago. Sorry, aesthetic influencers.

So this was my first impression of the zero waste lifestyle. Do you agree, disagree, or have a different experience? Let me know in the comments.


About the author

Lidia Kovac

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