A Zero-Waste Lunch
Zero-waste philosophy has become famous lately: it is a waste management methodology that aims to cancel or otherwise significantly reduce the amount of waste that must be disposed of, implementing a series of measures to cyclical reuse the resources and reduce waste. It is an international movement, with various reference sites and guidelines, which involves various aspects of the daily life of those who practice a zero-waste philosophy: the basic principle is the same as stated in the waste hierarchy of the European Union so if a product can not be reused, repaired, renewed, resold, recycled or composted, then it must be reduced, redesigned or removed from production.
Starting from thisprinciple, recently, the European Union has banned disposable plastic productssuch as cotton buds, crockery, straws, spoons and containers in expandedpolystyrene: by 2021 all of the member states will have to eliminate thepolluting disposable plastics and replace them with eco-friendly alternatives. In Europe, 25 tons of plastic waste are produced each year, of which only 30%is recycled, while the rest is incinerated, ends up in landfills or abandoned (Publications Office of the European Union, 2018).
Perhaps the idea of reducing waste to zero will seem utopian and unattainable, but in our path of degrowth towards what is less stressful, less laborious, but also simpler and purer, we can start from something small, to get closer to awareness.
How about startingfrom lunch?
Because of the paceof modern society, many of us are forced to have lunch outside and there arevery few companies that provide a canteen service: this leads us to eat in ahurry, at the bar or in a fast food, unbalanced meals wrapped in disposable film or polystyrene. There are some small precautions we can follow every day, to improve our lifestyle, trying to avoid waste, eating better and moving so little by little towards our goal of voluntary simplicity.
Following the advice of the zero-waste movement, here’s what we can do to make our lunch at work happier:
- It is advisable to bring cups and glasses from home, to be washed and reused indefinitely: this will allow us to reduce disposable plastic cups, so superfluous and polluting, and will give our office a more familiar look. If we have the good habit of drinking a lot of water, we can opt for a large aluminum bottle, to be filled with fresh tap water, thus permanently eliminating the useless and harmful disposable plastic bottles.
- Using leftovers from the day before turning them into light and genuine lunches is good for the environment and the wallet: if we bring our lunch with us in reusable containers (especially glass ones), we do not use fast food and we reduce the purchase and consumption of products with excessive packaging. Our lunch can be carried in a cloth or thermal bag, so as to avoid the use of plastic bags.
- Do not mess around even with paper! It is not desirable to exaggerate with paper towels and kitchen towels: they are always waste that can be avoided by using a easily washable cloth napkin. If you really can not do without it, choose recycled paper with PEFC or FSC certification for a more respectful use of forests.
- As far as snacks are concerned, we avoid the high-calorie bars of automatic machines: in addition to the unbalanced nutritional intake, they carry packs made of non-reusable or non-recyclable plastics. It is better to focus on dried and fresh fruits, bought in bulk without unnecessary plastic or polystyrene casings. The excess of packaging of fruit and vegetables in conventional supermarkets has been the focus of a recent awareness campaign called “Undress the Fruits” launched by the GreenMe website.
- At the end of the meal, everything that we can not reuse should be disposed of in separate waste collection. If there is not any in your office, take home what you want to recycle in the same containers where you have transported your lunch and dispose of it properly in the appropriate bins. You can also propose to colleagues to add some container to differentiate paper and plastic: there are many companies that start to raise awareness on the topic and maybe, collaborating for the management, you will be able to do something more for the environment.
If the zero-waste movement has intrigued you, I recommend you read the book “The Zero Waste Family (or almost)” that tells the story of Jérémie and Bénédicte and their two children, Dia and Mali, who have taken the road to the disposal of waste; if you prefer to watch a documentary, “The Clean Bin Project” is an award-winning film about a Canadian couple trying to live a year with zero waste.
If you want to share your small steps towards degrowth, post the photos of your zero waste meals with the hashtag #zerowastelunch.
Written by non-native speaker: please excuse any mistake.