17 Ideas to Help the Planet

This is a rubbish story. No, the story is not rubbish, it’s about the rubbish. How I was going through the bins to learn real-world recycling.

I remember when I was little we used to go shopping with reusable cotton bag, we washed plastic bags, and soda machine used to have glass cups, we used to return the bottles and get some coins back, butter was wrapped in paper, and milk was sold in a glass jar.

wooden cutlery

Then I think around the late 90’s it suddenly became silly to do all of that, instead all shops became “very generous” by giving thousands of plastic bags away, and we thought wow this is amazing – that’s a service – its a first world life, we can have as many plastic bags as we want.

This “nice gesture” later turned into a disaster, our planet is nearly wrapped in plastic. Supermarkets have very few products without wrapping, fast food shops, street food, chocolate, dairy, snacks.. absolutely everything is served on the plastic package.

Why is our food wrapped in these plastic layers?  

The food now is full of preservatives, additives, flavour enhancements, and artificial colours, then it’s wrapped in plastic.

Why is it such a challenge to buy organic stuff, and yet still questioning yourself – is it really organic, how would I know?

junk food

Junk food is full of hormones, chemicals, refined sugars, which causes overeating and sugar addiction

How did we survive before? Produce was fresh! No preservatives and no long shelf life, because consumption was mindful. Ask your grandparents how often did they eat meat? Not what’s now considered normal – three times a day every day.

Food has become an entertainment, with the obesity crisis growing in North America and in Europe of vast proportions. With the amount of waste and overconsumption happening worldwide, It is suggested that four Earths would be needed to sustain the planet alone. Seems like its more about the quantity rather than quality. Food gets thrown away and it became normal.

Disrespectful attitude to food and binge eating has lead to poor quality. Farmers use pesticides and chemicals stimulating growth.

We live in a society of instant gratification, where gluttony is encouraged, where everything is fast-paced and rushed. No time to really care for the planet. No time to really think about and connect with mother nature.

Last winter I’ve stayed in an Ecovillage, where for the first time I understood how much plastic crap we all consume and the worst part is it nearly impossible to buy food nowadays without it being packaged, wrapped, or served in plastic.

What I have learnt at the ecovillage

When I arrived at the village I had been given two brown paper bags, where I was supposed to collect all my rubbish. When the bag is full I would have to go to the recycling centre and go through every piece and put it in the right bin, supervised by the workers.

real life recycling

weekly we were emptying the bins and going through every piece, preparing it for recycling

A similar process was for our communal kitchen bins. Every week we were emptying bins of the communal kitchen and we were going through everything, although it was already sorted, there was a lot of work to be done to really prepare the rubbish to be recycled because this is really how it works:

🗑️🚫It’s not enough to throw away a coffee cup in a recycling bin and claim to be environment-friendly. 🚫Nope, (coffee cups are not recyclable BTW). We were:

♻️Separating the stickers from paper boxes and plastic bags

♻️Separating coloured glass from clear

♻️Separating broken glass and splitting by colour

♻️Washing all plastic AND drying it!!

♻️Washing the glass, Even broken glass

♻️We have been given yellow cards if we consistently brought plastic inside the village.

I can say that going through the bin has taught me so much about this subject. All of us in this eco-village saw how much plastic we have. It was incredible and sad to realise it.

  • We reused all glass bottles and jars, they required a deposit from the village shop and became valuable in making people care for them
  • We washed plastic bags and reused them many times, we cared for these bags.

What you can do for the planet now

Plastic:

plastic free sign in Mexico

I saw this in Mexico, its good to know someone cares

  1. Think if you needed all these tiny plastic bags for each type of vegetable and fruit, or can they stay in a bag together?
  2. Is there an alternative for unwrapped veggies?
  3. Can you bring a jar with you?
  4. Can you make this little effort of carrying cotton reusable bags?

Food:

  1. Cook smaller portions to avoid throwing away
  2. Freeze the food if you feel you won’t be able to finish it
  3. Share the food with your friends and neighbours if you can’t finish yourself
  4. Count how many days a week are you eating meat, can you make it 2 days
  5. Be mindful of ordering food when eating out
  6. Eat slow and bring your full awareness to your plate, you will notice the difference in portion you consume
  7. When you are travelling take the food with you, everything served on a plane usually involves single-use plastic
  8. Eat less processed foods
rubbish on planes

One of the bags of rubbish collected during the 2h flight

Lifestyle:

  1. Use biodegradable sunscreen, shampoo, soap, cream
  2. Don’t overuse washing machine, or use biodegradable washing detergent
  3. Don’t keep your car’s engine on when not driving
  4. Don’t buy clothes for the sake of buying, see if you can use what you have, explore the second-hand shops. Majority of the colour used for textile is very toxic
  5. Buy bamboo or metal straw and keep it with you, avoid plastic

This is just to name a few, if you have more ideas, please share in comments below

FACT:

Did you know that even though plastic is recyclable, it’s still cheaper to buy new plastic than recycled, so most companies buy new plastic?

A little heart-warming story

I went to the beach in Costa Rica and didn’t know how to get back to the village. As I was making the way back, my friend’s husband and their two children offered to give me a ride back. So me and him started to make our way to the car, and we were chatting and waiting, and waiting,…and waiting. Where are the kids? – we wondered. We went back and saw these two little kiddos(3 and 5 years old), they were collecting all the rubbish on the beach, they asked to bring the bag from the car, which they always take for rubbish. They continued to clean the beach and fill their bag. We couldn’t take them away, they were so dedicated.

I remember their father said, ” I can’t believe, we raised hippie kids”.