It’s the 21st century and we live very busy lives in this throw-away society where plastic is quite convenient (let’s face it). However, all five oceans and also the stomachs of whales, seabirds and fish are full of litter. This doesn’t sound right and there is another way to do things while not destroying the planet: let us introduce you the zero waste lifestyle. The Zero Waste concept is a way of living by not producing any rubbish. This might seem quite challenging at first so we have interviewed the blogger Khristina Santos from La Vida Uve, who didn’t produce any rubbish in 2016!
Why did you switch to a Zero Waste lifestyle?
I found out about the Zero Waste movement at the beginning of last year, in 2016, after going vegan. My transition to veganism made me want to know more about sustainability and ways of reducing my environmental footprint… and so I discovered Lauren Singer and her TEDx talk. I was so shocked to see such a normal girl could live a life of no trash without enormous complications or plenty of money, that I realized anyone, including myself, could make a change.
Plastic is a huge problem for the environment –as well as for our health. It takes centuries to disappear, it pollutes our land and oceans, and it kills numerous species! But it goes beyond that; it’s led us to a non-sense system of consumerism where we buy things that we don’t need, often overpackaged, which we throw away and convert into trash in matter of minutes. It makes much more sense for the planet, for our resources and for our wallet to invest in reusable, non-plastic products that will last us a life time.
What were the easiest and hardest products to give up for you?
Surprisingly, I haven’t had to give up many things! I’ve just had to make a few swaps, which have ended up improving my health. For example, now I make biscuits at home, popcorn and chips from scratch… even almond milk! Swapping to homemade cosmetics has also been really easy; making your own toothpaste or moisturiser saves a lot of money and can be quite fun!
I do have some products, though, which I’ve had to give up. Raspberries and blueberries, for example, don’t come to my town without plastic, so I had to get rid of them. Same goes to some vegan products or comfort food that only comes in packaged. I’m still hopeful I will find these in bulk someday, though!
How much rubbish do you produce per week?
Very few! Most weeks I only have organic waste, which I compost. However, when I run out of a product I still haven’t been able to find an alternative of, such as baking soda, I produce that packaging trash. Also, from time to time I get those little stickers that come with fruits, or a couple of plasters. Still working on that!
“A zero waste lifestyle is more expensive and time-consuming” what do you have to say about that?
Definitely not. The thing that surprised me the most when I first found out about the Zero Waste movement was that you didn’t need to be wealthy or in a constant gap-year lifestyle. Actually, it’s not only about trying to reduce your waste as much as you can, but also about valuing minimalism and simplicity.
It only takes a little bit of preparation so you don’t get caught up in a situation in which you are forced to consume plastic –carrying tote bags with you, a reusable cup or straw, your own cutlery… But you really get used to it, and it ends up taking no time. Plus, as I said before, replacing your numerous material items for a few reusable products will save you money soon enough!
While it’s true that baking bread isn’t an activity suited for every schedule, on the other hand, making your own products is often quicker than going to the store, as well! And it’s certainly cheaper, you only need a couple of ingredients, such as coconut oil or baking soda.
The ridiculous cheap price of plastic has made us believe that we have enough money to buy plenty of things, but that’s just smoke. It isn’t real. We are wasting a lot of money for things that will be rubbish in only ten minutes or a few weeks. Zero Waste helps you pay the real (often lower) price of what you’re buying, and it makes you see more clearly what you are putting on your body and in your life. Just as it happens with organic food or with the fast fashion industry, you should ask yourself why the common option is so cheap, instead of why the “healthy” or “good” option is more expensive.
Do you think a zero waste lifestyle is linked with being vegan?
Most environmental causes are related, and these are no exception. The meat industry, as well as being one of the main reasons of global warming, produces a lot of waste (especially with its link to fast food). Also, treating animals as mere products engage us in a dangerous mentality where comfort and self-satisfaction is more important than protecting the planet and respecting our communities and natural resources.
Of course, I have seen many people in the Zero Waste community that are not vegan or vegetarian, and vice versa, but I do believe that if you are living this life for environmental reasons, it is inevitable to eventually find the connection between the two.
Finally, name some items you didn’t know they existed before going zero waste and now you can’t stop using.
I had no idea about mason jars, solid shampoos and reusable straws. They are staple items for me, now. Also, the versatility of coconut oil completely blew my mind! I use it as makeup remover, body butter, facial moisturiser, after sun, shaving cream, toothpaste, lip balm, hand cream… I can’t imagine my life without it!
About Khristina Santos: she is a Journalism and Audiovisual Communication undergraduate. She is currently in Spain but has lived in Norway. Besides communication, she is also interested in sustainability, ethology and botany. She has worked as an editor for an international magazine and as Community Manager for several charities. You can find her blog here (only in Spanish), Facebook page, (rather beautiful) Instagram or Twitter accounts.