[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”10088″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Ruth recently attended a talk in Trinity College about waste reduction and to say she was inspired is putting it mildly, here is her take on it![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]What did you throw in the bin today? A snack wrapper, perhaps? A coffee cup? Plastic packaging from your groceries? Bea Johnson and her family fit their waste for an entire year into a single jar. Think about that for a second – a single jar.

Johnson is the leading voice of the rapidly growing Zero Waste movement. She spoke at Trinity College on 13th March to an eager auditorium that was bursting at the seams. The huge crowd was confirmation of the growing concern towards the environment and Irish people’s determination to make a positive change. There is a global waste crisis right now, especially in regard to plastic. Plastic is catastrophic for the oceans and its wildlife. Contrary to what many people believe, plastic can only be recycled 7 times before it goes to landfill. So recycling alone is just not good enough.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

So what can we do?

The Zero Waste movement is based around a 5 step process that starts from the top and works down.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”10081″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_outline” border_color=”green”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Essentially this means refuse what you do not need, reduce what you do need, reuse by using reusable containers, recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce, or reuse and rot (compost) the rest.

The steps that really resounded with me were the first two. Refuse things you do not need – even if they are free. This includes gifts, pens, plastic cutlery, disposable coffee cups, junk mail, fliers, plastic bags (yes, even the small ones for vegetables). We constantly battle at the checkout in our local supermarket as we insist on no plastic bags for our loose vegetables. But refusing is crucial.

Reducing what we need is the next step. Do you really need that new t-shirt? What about those new sheets? Or are the ones you have just fine? A few months ago, we donated a lot of our possessions to the local charity shops after reading Marie Kondo’s book on the negative impact “stuff” has on your life. We realised we don’t need all of these things and, instead, spend our time and money on experiences. Reducing your need for things not only makes you happier but also inherently means that you build up less waste.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The third step – reuse – is a really interesting one and one we can all implement immediately. Swap disposable products for reusable ones. More and more people are carrying reusable, canvas bags in Ireland and this is a great step in the move away from plastic. Bring your own travel mug to your local café if you’re getting takeaway coffee. Bring your own jars and containers to your butcher or fish monger and refuse plastic packaging. Bring your own container if you’re visiting your local bakery or favourite takeaway spot. Preparation is key here, however and if we are caught out without reusable containers, we must be willing to forgo the convenient option if it’s detrimental to the environment.

Johnson is also a strong advocate of buying in bulk. Purchasing the largest size that you can of a product means that your packaging can be dramatically reduced each week. If you eat porridge every morning, maybe consider buying a bulk size bag? The same goes for washing powder, soap, seeds, rice, nut butters, oil – the list goes on. Think about the products that you always use and consider buying bulk[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]The most important message from Johnson’s talk was that it does matter what you do. Each individual’s choice has led us to where we are today. We are surrounded by waste that will out-live all of us. We have to change our own personal habits. We have to reject the consumerism and mindless purchasing and start to make choices that reflect a world we want to live in.

For more information, go to the Zero Waste Ireland Facebook Page or check out Johnson’s website, Zero Waste Home.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”10082″ img_size=”full” style=”vc_box_outline” border_color=”green”][/vc_column][/vc_row]