#85: Buy meaningfully without unnecessary waste

I’ve touched this topic once before in one of my previous articles, but I honestly don’t think we talk about enough, and even less living it. Not as individuals but as a community. Of course, this is not an article in which I am trying to criticize you, but to offer some solutions and ideas.

The people I’m surround are generally eco-oriented, but there is a large majority to whom this is not very clear. I noticed some progress with the race organizers so the last Zagreb Advent Run we saw reusable glasses instead of classic plastic glasses. Great move for the Run Croatia team and I hope the other organizers will follow. Some races have introduced silicone cups and I think this is the path to go.

On the other hand, retailers such as Spar sale mesh bags that can be used for grocery shopping. I bought mine online and have been using it for over a year now. But let’s be honest and ask ourselves if we need a bag for just about every item. I watch people pick up a bag at the Fruits and Vegetables department for every item they buy. It is absolutely unclear to me why, say, fruits with peel like bananas and citrus fruits need bags?

You wight the fruit without a plastic bag and move it to a basket or cart, and stick the price tag to your cart, basket, sleeve, … or to the fruit peel itself! Just imagine how complicated that can be. Not at all, it’s very simple.

I like to shop at the open markets, but lately I’m rather failing that than succeeding as much as I would like, so shopping chains are a simpler option. However, I decided to buy items that do NOT have any packaging, if there is such an option. Let’s say I want to buy tomatoes, I’m looking to buy the ones that are not in the extra packed, thus reducing the waste footprint. I know what you’re going to tell me … “but it’s not the tomato I love.” I’m not telling you what to do, but what your options are. Food is more of an energy to me, so from that perspective, I seek to meet my nutritional and caloric needs throughout the day, with less emphasis on whether it is delicious (less, not none).

Another thing that I especially emphasize every time in a store (I won’t advertise which one) where I often buy is not to “seal” hams and cheeses into the extra paper packaging. I don’t know if you know what I’m talking about. So, the slices you order they put in one piece of paper and then transfer it to another piece of paper that is being sealed around the edges with some heater and then glues the price onto the item. Of course, every time, for every single item I say that they do not “iron print” my slices. “But sir, it will leak!”. And every time, from the beginning, I answer to those kind ladies that in 10 minutes I will be at home and none of the grease will run out through that plasticized paper from which I will remove these bought items, put them in the containers and store them in the refrigerator. At least three times less waste.

It would be ideal if we could bring our own containers to put it immediately in. Ideally! However, I suppose there would be a problem at the pay desk as your container would be heavier than the plastic or paper packaging offered by each store. But if you go to the open market, you could certainly do it. They also offer you bags with anything you order. I have a sling backpack for it that I would turn forward and stuff with items, so when I am done I just turn it onto my back and head home. I just don’t like to carry it in my hands if I don’t have to.

And for the classic store, I have canvas bags that I have gotten on several different races and they have been serving me for years. One always stands in my car, ready for use. I do not understand why people need a plastic bag for each item when it all will end up in the bag you are going home with and will be stored in a basket or a cart beforehand. I see no reason why, for example, bananas would not go directly into a basket or cart without a bag, with a price tag on the peel.

I find it especially amusing when there is chopped salad in plastic, although the same but not chopped stands just a few feet away. Are we so lazy that we can’t rip, wash and chop a salad? No time? So how long does it take to wash the salad. After all, are you sure that this salad, even though they represent it so, has been washed? I’ll wash it no matter whether it’s “ready to go” or not.

The tip of human stupidity is zucchini or cucumber wrapped in plastic. Each item is plastic coated for itself. So can it be more stupid than that? If yes, I can’t wait for your suggestions. That needs to be boycotted. Very simple. Tricolor peppers are also a “nonsense hit”. Buyers, us, dictate the market and what we want to buy, and it is up to the seller to either adapt to the market needs or try to present some new things and trends to the market. The latter can be very interesting. Neither is simple when you add the payment component of most citizens of this country. But it is definitely possible to influence it.

I honestly think that almost everything can be recycled, that is it has some energy value, but recycling facilities should be adapted to that. I will not enter the debate about what is happening in Zagreb and the rest of Croatia and who is doing what. Most importantly, we are dealing with things that we can surely influence at and that is ourselves, our own actions. Questions like, “And why would I do that when I see xy …”. However this sentence ends, it has nothing to do with what you do. Only if you can really manage other people. Then I strongly recommend that you govern what they need to do, starting with those who make key decisions at higher levels. I really want to see the recycling facility and the incinerator this city deserves. It’s hard for me to explain it to many, but it’s such a priority that there are few that would take precedence over it.

Yes, we need schools, kindergartens and thousands of other essential things. But without health, and the amount and type of waste and the way it is disposed directly affects it, we are unlikely to live a quality life. Therefore, be bullies and constantly blunt to everyone around you to sort waste and make more meaningful purchases. Retail chains will adjust, but not if no one is saying anything. When one starts, the other will follow. I even stop at people in the store and ask them if they would consider alternatives to taking the disposable bags. Some listen to the proposal, some look at me with that confused “who-are-you” face, some agree, and some just turn away. But I tried. My son doesn’t take (unless waiter brings it right away) the straws in the juice. Buy larger packages of liquid soap and take advantage of existing soap dispensers at home to avoid extra waste.

Do you drink mineral water? Beer? Have bottles for it. The glass ones. These plastic ones where you might buy mineral water or beer are certainly not PBA free. Read the article from the Trčanje.hr portal for clarity. Basically, it’s not so much a problem with the plastic itself as the fact that the BPA is discharged at higher temperatures, and I’m sure in the summer these bottles are certainly not in temperature-acceptable conditions. Ultimately, why pack plastic bottles when there is an alternative. Therefore, you can comfortably buy your cold beer in a glass bottle. It’s better for you too.

Anyway, here are some examples of how to contribute to nature conservation by reducing the waste, so at least think about it, because everything you throw into nature actually becomes a part of it and returns to our body through the foods we consume – either as foot that has grown from polluted land or something that we bred in a such environment.

I would like to hear your suggestions and ideas, so please do not hesitate to share any ideas you have, and in the meantime take a peek at the Zero Waste Croatia page.

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