less waste, less worries

zero waste and minimalism

Refusing Disposables Worldwide

Before I go on holiday, I try to find out what to say in the local language to avoid single-use items such as straws and plastic bags. After all, I like learning (about) languages and I think that knowing the relevant words can help to reduce the amount of trash I create.

Before we go on to the translations, here are some other steps that have helped me to avoid producing waste when shopping in the past:

  • when I want to eat or drink at a restaurant, bar or food truck I closely observe what other people who have already received their food or drinks have on their tables. Do they have disposable napkins (very probable)? Do they have condiments in little individual plastic containers, are salt and sugar packaged? Are there straws, cocktail stirrers and decoration in drinks I wouldn’t normally expect them in? What about the cutlery? At this occasion I also get a first impression of the foods they serve.
  • when I want to buy food in a bakery, at a market stall or basically anywhere else, I also try to observe what happens to the people who are being served before me. Does the person behind the counter put everything into individual bags? Do they put the items into the bag as the order procedes or do they pack everything up in the end? Doing this helps me to find out when I have to intervene and hand over my bag or container.
  • When ordering anything or buying anything I make sure to formulate my requests in the following order:  I first tell them how I want the product to be given to me. Only then do I tell them what I actually want. So in a bar I’ll say: “I’d like – whitout a straw, decorations, or napkin – a mojito please.” This helps to make sure that server doesn’t start scribbeling down what I want and then doesn’t really hear the no straw etc. request. This way of ordering is unusual and sounds a bit strange and it’s therefore much more likely to catch their attention. I then reiterate the “no straw, no decorations, no napkin” part. At a market stalls I do it the same way. I first hand over my bags and tell them to put everything I want to buy in it and then I say what I actually want to buy.
  • waving my reusables around like a crazy person helps a lot as well
  • I stay vigilant: the fact that the smoothie place has taken my bottle behind the counter for pouring my beverage direct into it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll remember. It’s just not in their normal routine. So when I see them getting dangerously close to a plastic cup, I usually panic and shout at them to use my bottle.

This category will be added to as I go along.