Can you imagine living 24 hours without producing trash?
If yes, you’re probably just not aware of how much trash you collect daily.
If no.. Welcome! Neither could I.
Few years ago, being interested in idea of minimalism which I found to be a solution to all my clutter problems, I bumped into a blog about a girl who have lived 2 years without making any kind of trash. Instead of garbage bin she had a small jar, and all the waste she made in two years could fit in there! My first thought was HOW DID SHE EAT? At that time I couldn’t imagine how you buy food without packages and the first image in my mind was crowded garbage bin in my kitchen.
As I have always cared about the environment and loved the idea of recycling, I was amazed by this girl and her experience. From that moment the idea of Zero Waste life was always on my mind. I wanted to give it a try, but that had to wait until I moved from my parents’ home and started living alone.
It finally happened last autumn, and I decided to try reducing as much waste as possible. I didn’t have a specific goal or wanted to prove anyone anything, I just wanted to see is it so simple as it looked like and how easy or difficult will be to change my habits.
And here’s how I started:
1. I said no to plastic bags
The number of plastic bags each of us receives daily is just too high. It’s silly that cashiers even pack already packed product. As plastic bags break easily and don’t decompose, it’s not uncommon to see them for months tied to branches of trees or flowing down the rivers. So I just refused using them and instead I used my tote bag or backpack when shopping.
2. I stopped buying sweets and snacks
Although I thought I was buying them rarely, soon I realized this ‘rarely’ was every second day! But it was just a stupid habit. I replaced sweets with fruits and snacks with nuts. After only few days I could feel the change as I started eating healthier.
3. I started buying food in bulk
Grocery stores with healthy food are increasingly popular in Montenegro these few last years. In Podgorica, you can find them in every quarter of the city and the good thing is that in most of them you can buy food in bulk. My favorite was popular and busy Bonella, where turnovers are quick so you know they always have a fresh food. You can bring your own or use their reusable paper packaging.
4. I started buying cleaning products in bulk
There is a small shop (Preko Morace, opposite the Red Cross building) where they sell liquid soaps, laundry detergent and all the other cleaning products. They are all the same quality as those you can buy in supermarkets, just have a cheaper packaging or you can again bring your own.
All these things I did were very simple. My first steps into Zero Waste lifestyle. But it’s not something that happens overnight. You cannot reduce all in once. It’s a process and you have to learn how to live by it. In my case, week by week I produced less and less waste and the difference was pretty visible. I didn’t get to the point where I would make my own products and turn 100% zero waste, but I was happy with results I made in few months.
My story stopped developing after moving in with a roommate as I soon realized that things don’t depend only on me anymore.
But at the end it’s all about habits. I still refuse unnecessary plastic bags; It’s not about zero waste anymore, it’s because I really don’t need them; I still use only one bag when buying different fruits and vegetables in Bonella and I still love this small shop with liquid soaps and laundry detergents.
I’m sure that as soon as I could I’ll go back again to zero waste way of living. Just this time I hope it will last longer. For now, I’m glad that Montenegro is going to get its first Zero Waste community and I’m happy to be part of this team which tries to implement healthy ideas in our society.
Written by Katarina Kalicanin