In 2021, let’s tackle food waste and plastic pollution with some easy tips & tricks 🙂
- Choose to reuse when it comes to shopping bags and bottled water. Cloth bags and glass reusable bottles are available in supermarkets.
- Refuse single-use plastics like straws and cutlery. Carry reusables in your backpack or car to use at take-out restaurants.
- Reduce everyday plastics like sandwich bags and plastic bottles by replacing them with a reusable lunch box and a thermos bottle. Reuse glass jars and plastic containers to store leftover food in your fridge or freezer.
- Bring your to-go mug with you to the coffee shop, smoothie shop or restaurants that let you use them. Some coffee shops sell these and give discount every time you come back!
- Buy second hand and sustainable clothes. Clothes’ production requires a lot of water. Synthetic clothes release microplastics into our waterways each time you wash them.
- Join a beach clean-up or collect litter on walks in the park.
- Spread the word. Talk to your family and friends about why it is important to reduce plastic in our lives and share facts about plastic pollution.
If you have other tips & tricks to avoid single-use plastics or food waste, please leave them in the comments!
No Plastic Planet, please
Good news for 2021: The European Union and Mexico will ban single-use plastics, Thailand, Oman and the United Arab Emirates will ban plastic bags and China will ban single-use straws. To avoid using plastic bags, cups or cutlery, I always carry the following with me:
- a tote bag
- a reusable and refillable bottle
- a lightweight cutlery set (key-ring size)
You would be surprised at how friendly shop owners are when you bring your own bags and tupperwares, or even your own reusable cup or bottle to the store and you ask them for example to pour your take-away coffe into your bottle. There may be a shop that sells food in bulk nearby your place, or a market that sells veggies & fruits from a local farm.
Good deals to save meals
The mobile phone application TooGoodToGo has been expanding to many countries (Denmark, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Poland and soon the US). Via the app, you can save meals from bakeries and restaurants as well as groceries from supermarkets for a much discounted price. Just before their Christmas closing, I got 26 portions of spaghetti bolognese from a restaurant, which I then distributed to people on the street. TooGoodToGo also gives tips on how to use leftover food in original recipes on their instagram page. Join the movement of Food Waste Warriors here: https://toogoodtogo.org/en
Second hand clothes, true treasures
Many cities now have lots of different second hand clothes shops, where you can find true treasures if you take the time. I recently scored my festive holidays outfit in an Oxfam store and found out that the items I bought where luxury and quality design brands. There are also Oxfam shops that sell books (besides their fairtrade products). At Petits Riens, you can find clothes, books and furniture. You can also look on the application Vinted, on which people sell their (sometimes barely worn) clothes and shoes directly to you based on photos and you can negotiate the price: https://www.vinted.be/
The fantastic documentary about Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado, “The Salt of the Earth”, not only tells the story of his humanitarian photographs from all over the world, but also about how together with his wife he replanted a disappeared forest in his birth village:
“Before the Flood”, Leonardo Dicaprio’s film on the climate crisis:
The nature series “One Planet” by Sir David Attenborough shows how all ecosystems are interlinked and how we need to protect these to save animals and nature, ultimately also for our own survival:
And as you too are a future changemaker, know that you are never too young to take action: