Monday, January 20, 2020
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Nº 5 – A life without garbage?

It was exactly five weeks. The self-experiment lasted from Sunday, December 1, 2019, to Saturday, January 4, 2020, during which time two people tried to leave no rubbish for posterity. To put it bluntly: they failed. I have failed, for now. Two people have left their footprints here and there, reducing them enormously, but, as I said, not to ZERO. We did not buy shampoo and liquid soap, we made it ourselves or washed it with hair soap. We did the same with our laundry. We have been using ivy leaves growing on our walls in Monchique for months. I was speechless to see that our laundry, 6 kg of clothes, towels, bedding, etc. was as clean with ten torn ivy leaves as with two cups of detergent…

But on 1 December we wanted to know it exactly. We decided to test and to make sure that we would buy our food and that of our pets without packaging. This was the reason why we failed – if you take a closer look. In the end, we poured our washed and dried garbage on the floor and analyzed these raw materials. An empty bag of potato chips, the packaging of paper handkerchiefs, a plastic closure of a cardboard kefir cup, a plastic bag of bread, two noodle and rice packages, as well of cheese, coffee, tea and medicine, two vacuum bags for juices and an empty Tetra-Pak of juice, as well as a tube of tomato paste and the metal closure of a champagne bottle. Now I could say that all this is recyclable. But who guarantees us that these washed resources will really return to the cycle of life. We bought milk from our neighbour (in a 6-l-stainless steel bottle) and make our yoghurt from it in our own jars. Many fruits and vegetables come from the garden (e.g. bananas). We always recycle the egg cartons ourselves, we exchange empty ones for full ones, the same goes for honey. We even produce our own olive oil in a 5-l-bottle. (see foto)

In the end we have 31 small printed plastic scraps left in a month. I put them on the scales. There are 380 grams of plastic waste and 20 grams of metal, which makes a total volume of five litres. So our little two-person household with cats and dogs produced one litre of waste every week. We had planned to produce zero waste. We are still working on it. Big goals often need many small steps. A first step is done. By the way, there are no limits to creativity. We just have to move a little out of the comfort zone and question ourselves and our actions from time to time.

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