I got into a bit of a drawing-funk and as soon as I mentioned it, it got better. Funny how that works.
Recently, I've re-injected some of my focus and energy into creating less waste. I (briefly) participated in Rodale's Plastic Free Challenge (in February) and researched the Dutch recycling system. I found out that (according to the official numbers) we recycle 90% of our paper / cardboard. Not bad!
With plastic we do less well. Until recently we had no real plastic recycling facilities. Some cities do post-collection separation (like Amsterdam, where I live) and some do consumer separation, where people separate their plastic trash. Not much of this really gets recycled and they ship it to Germany to begin with (from what I understand) and incinerate the non-recyclables. Not ideal, but you have to start somewhere I guess.
I've looked into ways to make less waste (of any type, mostly plastic because that never ever goes away and burning it doesn't really do any good either) and this morning I decided to start drawing the four steps with which I believe I can make a difference:
Before the other three steps, you can start by simply refusing. No, I don't want a paper or plastic cup to drink my drink from. No, I don't want throw away plastic cutlery. No, I don't want a plastic straw. No, I don't want a plastic bag. No, I don't want throw away containers for my food.
Somehow we ended up in a situation where people look at you funnily when you don't want something, even if it's free and you can simply throw it away! I brought my own bag for quite some time now, and it still surprises me how much some people insist on the plastic bag. They'll tell me my purchase won't fit in my bag. Since I've had it for a while, I have a good idea of what will fit and what not and one single shirt will always fit. I will stomp it down so hard it'll fit, thanks :)
Most of us -- myself included -- spend a lot of time in a consumer coma, consuming without thinking, without looking, without caring. I have no idea how we can break that cycle easily, however, I have decided that I do care about the food I eat, and I do care about how I treat my body, and my surroundings. I bring my own food (in my own container and with my own napkin and my own cutlery) because I care about what food I put into my body, and by bringing my own things I control my waste (which I won't have because I reuse my cutlery and containers).
Check out this video on YouTube by Beth Terry from My Plastic-free Life and see if you squee like I did when she pulled out her backpack (because that's the kind of girl she is -- me too! me too!)
For products that might help with refusing (and naturally, only go buy something if you don't already have a proper solution, but myeah... I know...):
drinking bottles / mugs
Klean Kanteen (stainless steel in various sizes and thermos-mugs, also with stainless steel caps so no plastic touches your drink, if you care about that)
Sigg (mostly aluminium, but also stainless steel and thermos-mugs)
Purica Steel (steel, also thermos-bottles)
Thermos (take a wild guess what they make)
storage containers for lunch or freezer / fridge
LunchBots (lunchboxes of stainless steel, as drawn in the bottom right corner)
To-go ware (tiffins and cutlery)
a little bit of everything
Life Without Plastic (sells a variety of plastic-free products, including containers, cutlery, bags etc)
Reuse it (sells a variety of reusable products, containers, bottles, bags etc)