#MEIPLASTICVRIJ - These three women are living zero waste

The initiative #meiplasticvrij challenges everyone to live without plastic for a month. We interviewed three women who live a zero waste life and found out how they manage to live without plastic.

Article by Joke Hendrix. Cover photo by Denise Johnson on Unsplash

KIM HENCKENS

What inspired you to pursue a zero waste lifestyle?

Watching the ocean and everything that lives in it suffer from our consumer society. The underwater world should be, and stay a paradise. All these creatures want to live in a real and beautiful world, but we're turning that world into plastic. I don’t think that’s fair. I felt really sick watching the episode ‘Afval’ on the Flemish TV show ‘Op Eén'. If everyone makes a small change in their lifestyle, this could work. Unfortunately, we’re not there yet.

How long have you been doing this?

For almost two years.

How do you do it?

I don’t use kitchen paper or napkins but reusable or cloth wipes. I go to package free stores, I refuse plastic straws when going out drinking. I consciously buy milk and my Coca Cola in glass bottles instead of plastic ones. I don’t throw garbage on the ground. I use a reusable bottle for tap water and grocery bags made of cloth.

What advice do you have for people who want to live zero waste, but don’t know how to start?

Always leave a reusable grocery bag in your car. Refuse straws. Don’t litter. Don’t use separate plastic bags when buying vegetables and fruit. Opt for cardboard packaging instead of plastic. Sort your waste. Bring old clothing to a secondhand store.

Reusable water bottle chase
"Don't by plastic water bottles" Photo by Yannic Läderach on Unsplash

SOFIE RONSSE

What inspired you to pursue a zero waste lifestyle?

This started with the urge to live simple, to live a minimalist lifestyle. By looking for inspiration, I quickly stumbled upon zero waste. I do a lot of upcycling; turning litter and used products into something useful, so this was the next logical step. Reducing, also in producing litter, was something I had to try. After that, it became some sort of challenge for me: how far can I go?

How long have you been doing this?

I've been doing this for about six years.

How do you do it?

I bring my own bags and boxes to the grocery store. I make my own cleaning products and bathroom products. I recycle water to water the plants. I don't use paper kitchen towels but cloth napkins. The list goes on and on.

What advice do you have for people who want to live zero waste but don’t know how to start?

Think twice about the things you buy. Ask yourself: "Do I need this? Can I do something else with this instead of just throwing it away?" Don't just buy new things, see if you can make it yourself or buy it in a thrift store. Buy locally. Keep vegetable peels and ends in the freezer, they make excellent broth ingredients!

"Don't use plastic bags for shopping" Photo by Mahkeo on Unsplash

CAROLINE SMEETS

What inspired you to pursue a zero waste lifestyle?

My Economics teacher once told me about the ‘yogurt pot’. This was a turning point for me. It was about how we all buy small yogurt pots that are empty after two scoops and then thrown away. He told us this in our Marketing class about the influence of advertising. Then I realised that the advertising world keeps creating these endless needs. I decided to live differently. I went to the grocery store with my own jars and pans and refused unnecessary packaging. My biggest motive is to save our planet from pollution.

How long have you been doing this?

I’ve lived completely zero waste in my twenties and this has always been a main thread throughout my life. As a single mom with two kids, the zero waste living started to move to the background, but now I’m trying it again. I track my progress on my blog.

How do you do it?

By using my own jars and pots when going grocery shopping and refusing unnecessary packaging. I also make a lot of DIY products with natural ingredients. I’ve started my own initiative called ‘fabrique ecologique’. Over a couple of days, we meet with a group of people to cut vegetables together, or make DIY products together.

What advice do you have for people who want to live zero waste but don’t know how to start?

Clean reusable jars (like Nutella or jam jars) and use them to do grocery shopping. Go to package free shops. Dare to speak up and ask your regular grocery store if you can get the fresh chicken in your own bowl instead of packaged. Every small action will help.



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