Garbage, trash, waste, junk, rubbish, litter, refuse, dirt…

Most people don’t care at all about the environment, I do. I try to contribute my bit to improve the quality of our lives in this planet, and part of my contribution is trying to raise awareness among the people I know. Because I think that in many cases people just don’t know things!
So today I want to talk to you about a subject that has scared me for a very long time… trash.
Are you aware, or do you care at all about how much garbage you produce?
Well, maybe it is time for you to start thinking about it! And why not, doing something about it!
If you don’t live in a country like Switzerland where your garbage bill is proportional to the size of your rubbish bag, try to make a little effort for the Earth sake and for your own future! Who wants to live surrounded by piles of stinky garbage? I don’t!
I have been conscious of this for a long time now, but what triggered me to write about it was hearing from my friend that works for the environment; she mentioned that in Hong Kong (where I live now) if we keep on going this way, not too long from now all the landfills are going to be full! Scary ah? And I don’t think this is only in Hong Kong! I don’t even want to go into numbers or statistics to scare you; you can always look at those at any time. What I’d rather want to do is to write about the simple things that can help you reduce the size of your garbage bag. And don’t worry; you don’t have to do any infrastructure investment or any big changes in your life style!!!
It all starts at the grocery shop. Yes I know, it might seem a bit too much, but there lies probably half of what you can do. One of the highest sources of garbage is packaging (I’m sure packaging companies are going to hate me for this!), so try to minimize the content and volume of the packaging of the products you buy; how?; well, here are some ideas: chose cereal and grains with only one kind of packaging instead of the ones that come with a bag inside a box; buy the bigger sizes that would last longer (a glass jar is great for keeping them fresh); buy fruits and veggies in the local market bringing your own bag instead of buying each individual vegetable in a plastic container with plastic wrapping at the supermarket (and believe me, it is so much cheaper); avoid buying individual portions like yogurt, juices or crackers; try to chose products with recyclable packaging.
Another huge source of packaging garbage is take away food! If absolutely necessary try to choose places that use cardboard packaging instead of plastic and if you have no choice, reuse the plastic containers instead of throwing them away. It might be even a better idea to eat at the restaurant! This is a healthier habit as well!
Wash your cutlery! Plastic spoons, forks and knives are among the most polluting objects on earth and they stay on the planet for a lifetime! The process to produce them is also a very polluting one that takes very, very long, while it will take you just 10 seconds to rinse a real one!!!
If you can hold what you buy with your own hands, avoid getting the shopping bag, and if absolutely necessary, keep it hand and reuse it as many times as possible!
Switch to reusable batteries! They not only save the planet but make your life easier… you never run out of batteries!!!
Are you kind of a shopaholic? Are you the kind of shopper that loves to be seen around holding several fancy shopping bags even if they only have a pair of socks or a lipstick inside? Well, try going to the fancier shop first so you can put all the shopping of the day inside the best brand bag, being a bit more Eco-friendly and still looking cool! And deal with the shop staff to avoid using the tons of unnecessary paper, wrapping, ribbon, stickers, boxes, advertising postcards, etc, etc, etc, etc.
Regarding your shopping I want to stop here, because I don’t want to push it to an extreme, but believe me, there are MANY more things you can do. If you have more ideas you are more than welcome to share!
Well, when you have done your best when buying stuff, here are a few tips for the throwing things away part.
First of all, I really think that a having a small rubbish bin will help you a lot on the intention! It kind of sets a limit!
Recycle, try to see if there is anything (bottles, containers, textile materials, food scraps) that you or anyone you know can make use of: If your neighbor does his own compost, save the peels of your fruits and vegetables, the egg shells, the coffee ground and tea bags for him!. Reuse glass containers for needles and pins, screws, nails, or any small things you need to organize. Give away old clothes that might look very unglamorous on you but very charming on someone in need. And if the t-shirts don’t even apply for charity, use them to clean the floor. These are just a few hints, but there are many things that can be reused. You have probably seen around social media what people are doing in the so called undeveloped countries with plastic bottles: from roof tiles to brooms, walls, lights! That’s sustainable design!
Divide your recycling according to your own area, state or country (they don’t recycle the same materials everywhere in the world), and reduce the items to the minimum expression (this is a very releasing action that helps you get rid of a lot of tension!): squeeze the plastic bottles and metallic cans until they become totally flat; unfold and flatten boxes. And here a call to attention to people in Hong Kong: please read the signs on the recycling bins (or at least look at the pictures, they are very clear), banana peels don’t go inside the paper bin, plastic bottles don’t go into metal, metal into paper, food waste into metal, etc, etc, etc. How difficult can it be? Paper… Plastic… Metal. If it is not in these three categories it is garbage. And if you don’t know how, it is better to throw it in the normal garbage; otherwise all the efforts of the people that are doing their homework will go straight into the same… garbage!!!
If you have something in your hands that is going inside the bin, give it a second thought, if it definitely belongs to the garbage category, try to make it smaller and flatter. At first it might feel quite overwhelming but thrust me, it becomes totally natural!
There is also a lot you can do at work, because the garbage you produce there, counts a lot!!!
Well, if I can convey this message to 5% of my readers, I know we can make a difference!
Spread the voice and share the concept with your friends! We might not be able to make the plastic islands in the ocean disappear, but we might stop them from getting bigger and bigger and bigger!

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