No matter where you live, you can always do better - for both the environment and you.
In this series of articles, we will talk about how people who live in big cities, like Prague, can live more sustainably. People who like the big city life, all the restaurants, cafés and shops. People who live in apartments, with no garden where they could grow their own tomatoes or compost. People who like fashion and cosmetics. And most importantly, people who care about our planet and want reduce their environmental impact.
Part 1: Refuse
I suppose that most of us have already come across the term zero waste. It is lifestyle that aims for creating NO waste at all, using the following principles:
In this article, we will focus on the first one - REFUSE.
As you can see, the 5R concept is an inverted pyramid and refuse stands on top. How did it earn its position?
Let me answer with a question. Why is refusing stuff more important than recycling? Well, because every single thing in this world has a negative impact on our environment due to its mere existence. Every object has to be made somewhere, using resources and energy. It has to be transported and packaged, which causes emissions and waste. Then someone buys it and sooner or later it becomes waste. Therefore, the best we can do is to avoid products that we don't need in the first place. By not buying unnecessary stuff, we save our environment as well as our finances. Once you have done this step - refuse everything that is actually useless for you - you can focus on the other “Rs” (is something reusable/recyclable/compostable?).
It sounds quite simple, right? But let's be honest - how many of us refuse things in real life?! The trends are showing the opposite - our consumerist society buys more and more stuff every year.
It's not only about refusing the things that you actually don't need. It's also about refusing things that seem ecological, which we often buy because the purchase is justified by its “eco-friendliness.”
Sustainability is such a trend now and you can see things labeled as “eco friendly” almost everywhere. Eco-friendly straw, eco-friendly cup, eco-friendly t-shirt, eco-friendly mascara, eco-friendly ice cream, eco-friendly car, eco-friendly this, eco-friendly that. We buy these things, thinking that we are doing something good for the planet, but we actually do the contrary. Sure, if it´s something you need, then it´s good that you are using an ecological product. But if it´s something that you don’t actually need or use, then it doesn't matter whether it's ecological or not - you just contributed to the depletion of resources and energy, as well as the creation of emissions and waste. If you don't need a certain product, then simply don't buy it, even if it's made from bamboo, paper or the most ecological material in the world. Because the most ecological doesn't exist. Most ecological is nothing.
I guess you have all heard about how we should refuse single-use plastics, like straws, to-go cups or shopping bags. In this article, I want to offer you a different take on what we should refuse. So, next time you are wandering through our beautiful city of Prague (or any other city), try to remember the following:
Products that are on sale - avoid buying things just because of the price reduction
Buy one (two, three) get one for free - if you just need one, then why getting two?! And actually...do you need even the one? Or did it get your attention just because of this promotion?
“Must-haves” or “essentials” - especially in fashion and cosmetics - who told you that you MUST have this particular product? According to whom is the product “essential?” And is it essential for you?
Samples - if it´s something that you know that you would never buy, then why bothering with a sample, even if it´s for free?
Basically, refuse anything but you don´t need it (even if it's for free).
To refuse doesn't cost you anything (on the contrary, it often saves you money!) and it's a great starting point if you want to live sustainably.
Have fun refusing and we'll discuss more in the upcoming articles.