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4montnait goes eco-friendly

The concept “zero waste” has been widely discussed these days, so I’m sure you’ve at least heard of it. In some ways, zero waste lifestyle is often seen as something like veganism, that it’s either all or nothing. That’s why “less waste” sounds much more realistic and doable, and that’s something worth starting off with. Changing your lifestyle is never easy and it’s always smarter (and easier) to do it step by step. Or at least to do something.

We have reached the level of comfortable life where we can buy everything conveniently in the nearest store and often we don’t even bother thinking about aspects like where’s it coming from and what kind of “footprint” it’s going to leave after we’ve thrown it out. Typically people think of their trash as some physical mass in our waste containers but we often tend to forget all of the resources like water, gas, etc. that’s been used to produce these things. The numbers are incredible, just google it and you’ll be shocked!

As a company, we’ve understood that we don’t want to be a part of this sad, sad system and we’ll do our best to become more eco-friendly. We are ready to share some simple tips that could help us make baby steps towards our eco goals.

Everyone should drink at least 2 liters of water every day. Multiply that by the number of your coworker and fill it all in plastic bottles. That’s just madness. The amount of plastic going right into our trash cans due to this simple need of human beings. This is one thing we can actually be proud of – we’ve already set up a filtration system to use our tap water for drinking.

Regarding plastic waste, it’s always smart to reconsider if you need to purchase a veggie or a fruit that’s wrapped in plastic or maybe its own peel is a good enough packaging. Also, do you really need to wear those plastic gloves just to grab that handful of cherries at the store and then throw the plastic thing out?! That’s just super unnecessary waste since you most likely are going to wash those berries anyway (you really should wash them). The same goes for plastic straws – if you are not the biggest fan of mojitos, most likely you don’t need them at all. In case you are – be an environment-friendly cocktail lover and, please purchase reusable metal, bamboo or other reusable straws.

To make this all easier, every time you are about to use any kind of disposable plastic, just think if you really need it. If its purpose lasts just a couple of minutes or hours but the piece of plastic will lay in the wasteland for years and years – probably it’s not worth it.

As you might guess – the kitchen typically is the least zero waste friendly room in the house. The next thing we should get rid of is our coffee maker. Coffee filters are not recyclable, however, they can be biodegraded if you have a moist compost pile. This is something that we don’t have as an office located in the center of the city. Moka pot or French press could be much more friendly for the environment.

The next thing is the coffee itself. Here in Riga, we have more than one zero-waste store and luckily – one of those stores is just around the corner from our office. Just take your own jar, reusable fabric bag, wax wrap or waxed lunch bag. Even if you don’t have a zero-waste store anywhere near, plastic-free food is nothing new – you can just ask any seller at the market to put your purchase in your own reusable packaging.

Tea lovers can go zero waste as well and use tea infusers instead of bagged tea. I can imagine that some of our mums would be more than happy to share their stock of herbal teas collected during summertime. At least my mum always is and it’s great to know that no packaging has ever been produced specially for this tea.

Talking about plastic bags – we really hope you have been using a fabric bag for a long time already because those plastic bags you can buy at the checkout are good for your trash bin only. Actually you can even consider if you need a garbage bag in your trash bin at all. You can always take your garbage to the waste container in the bin and just pour it out there. From what I’ve seen – I’m happy to know that most of the team is already using fabric tote bags, reusable food containers, etc. However, there’s always room for improvement.

Another thing you can easily avoid is store-bought cleaning cloths. Our parents didn’t have them when they were growing up and they managed to clean well enough using old t-shirts and other clothes. After all – the fashion industry is the second most environmentally destructive industry and we should at least try to re-use the production of it to the maximum.

A bigger step for us will be recycling containers. This is something that will take a bit more time and energy to arrange, but those containers definitely are on our to-do list. Please note that different trash removal services have different rules for what can be recycled and what kind of trash goes together in the same container. Usually, you can check this information on the container. Since placing larger containers in the city center is a bit problematic, we hope to resolve this issue soon.

Everything in bulk! This is a rule that can easily be observed by offices. Most likely any kind of office supplies bought in bulk will not only leave you with less waste of packaging but will be less pricey as well. It’s a win-win situation indeed. 

There are many, many other steps you could do to go zero waste or at least less waste. These are just some examples of improvements that can be easily implemented in our everyday life. Remember, if you have already bought something and been using it for some time, but it doesn’t fit in your zero waste lifestyle anymore, don’t throw it away just yet. Perhaps, you should consider if throwing it away will cause more harm than keeping it and making use of it. For example, we are planning to wait until our current light bulbs burn out before buying new – eco-friendly light bulbs.

Make sure you reconsider if you really need the thing you are about to purchase. In addition, it’s always more environmentally friendly to buy locally grown and produced goods.

Hopefully, you found some inspirational tips in this article. This was a good reminder to myself as well because all of these habits described above are not that hard to change at all. Fingers crossed that more and more people will realize that we can achieve changes starting with small steps. Cheers and go green!

Written by Daina Jurķe

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