Over the past few weeks, our lives have changed quite a bit. Our passion for a zero waste lifestyle however has remained. We have realized that options to live a life with zero waste are different in every area, and that our location influences our success. It’s not about the ‘zero’ in zero waste. What’s most important is that we care. That we put in effort to do better; any effort counts no matter how big or small it may be!
That’s why we decided to write a weekly waste waning diary that we’ll share with you every Wednesday. We’ll celebrate our zero waste stories and reflections we had over the past week. And we invite you to share any and all thoughts of your own in the comments on a weekly basis.
By sharing our stories and being open about our wins and losses in the zero waste lifestyle, we hope to inspire others to make better choices.
A warming open fire
Just a few weeks ago, at the start of October, we moved into an apartment in Dublin. The rental prices in this city are incredibly high, and it can be very difficult to find a place you can truly call home. It took us nine weeks to find an apartment that suited our family, but we’re happy we didn’t settle sooner. Our current place has many things that we are incredibly chuffed with. One of the best features is the fireplace. It gives such an amazing atmosphere in our home during the winters. There’s just something primal about looking at and enjoying the heat of fire. And of course it will minimize the amount of electric energy we use to heat our apartment.
Last week, we visited Mulch to buy wood for our open fire. After a lovely conversation with an employee – who loved the tiny wood burner in our camper van – we bought a half cubic meter bag of kiln dried Ash. The question burning in the back of our minds before entering the store was whether we’d be allowed to leave the bag behind. Not only was it fine for us to leave the bag for them to use in the future, we could to park our van near the door and another employee stacked the logs neatly in the back. Great customer service seems to be rare these days, but they’re doing a great job at Mulch. We’ll be back!
We’re still unsure about whether burning wood truly poses a more sustainable options than using green electricity – with it being less efficient and all – but we’re looking in to the pros and cons at the moment. Wood burning in urbanized areas in particular seems to be a matter of concern. But we will share more about that in the future.
Since moving in to our apartment, we’ve bought at least two butternut squashes every week. Not only are they perfect for warming meals in the colder months, they are very abundant at the moment which makes them incredibly affordable. They keep for a very long time in the cupboard, and they are fully edible (Okay, we do discard the small stem at the top…).
Even though you won’t be able to observe the benefits yourself, it is always best to buy vegetables and fruits that are in season. Logically, buying crops that are in season limits transport distances for example. This hence minimizes greenhouse gas emissions, but also limits the chance of goods spoiling before they arrive at your home. Usually, products that are bought in season also taste much better. We really notice this when we buy fruits in summer. Strawberries are much more flavorsome in the hot months than in winter. And that’s not solely because they’re sweet and refreshing!
We recently found a great website that lists common crops in a calendar that shows when they’re in season in Ireland. We’re sure that you’ll be able to find one for your own region and use it to find the best ingredients for this month’s dishes!
We usually cut one or two squashes in bite-sized pieces and roast them in the oven, skin and all. It goes perfect with so many dishes, sweet and savory alike! This week, we made a delicious curry and we added one roasted pumpkin. And we didn’t discard the seeds either. We dried them for a day and roasted them the next evening for a delicious late-night snack!
Talking about pumpkins, it is Halloween today and we’ve seen many decorated houses in Dublin over the past few weeks. We love that even though the celebration is just a day’s event, most families keep the decorations up for a few weeks. That makes the whole ordeal more festive and a little less wasteful. But what we haven’t seen much of is handmade decorations! What happened to the good old carved pumpkins? Those are a great biodegradable alternative to plastic cobwebs and window stickers, and the seeds could be enjoyed afterwards.
With the weather getting colder here in Europe, we’ve been on the lookout for new winter garments. The wind has really picked up in Ireland. In a few weeks we’ll start cycling to work, so it is about time to find a good wind stopper.
When it comes to functional outdoor wear in particular, finding products that align with our values is a real struggle. It seems that it is quite difficult to create natural weatherproof garments that are water- and windproof. The sole company we know that successfully combines these features in a sustainable way, is ROJK Superwear. During a visit to their office in Stockholm over the summer, we learnt more about the brand. This week, we finally each bought a coat online. Sadly, we can’t afford the water resistant Badland jacket (a super unique product that you have to check out). Instead, we went with a more affordable option; The Rover anorak. It’s a jacket made from a biopolymer based on castor oil. It is not waterproof, but it does function as a great windblocker.
Protection from the rain we expect to encounter in Ireland is something we’ll have to discuss at a later point. The weather has been incredibly kind to us over the past few months and we’ve been traveling by public transport. But we know that we’ll be cycling on rainy days eventually. If you know of any sustainable raincoats and trousers, please do share your information with us!
The Rover anoraks are incredibly lightweight and stretchy. We’ve already experienced their windstopping quality over the past few days, and we are impressed. We’ll have to invest in a good sustainably made fleece sweater as well though, as these jackets won’t keep us warm during the cold winter to come 😉
We were slightly disappointed to see the parcel arrive in a plastic bag. We ordered the jackets from a different outdoor website, rather than from ROJK directly. Irish recycling companies don’t accept flexible plastics, so on to the landfill it is. It’s a rookie mistake, I guess. We should have contacted the web store beforehand and asked about the possibility to ship the coats in a paper box, rather than a plastic bag.
And you might actually wonder why we ordered clothing items from Sweden to be shipped all the way to Ireland. Isn’t that bad for the environment? Well, that’s definitely a difficult question to answer. We could have bought a synthetic jacket, but that would not have necessarily limited the shipping distance. Most of the companies we’re familiar with originated in Germany, Sweden, New Zealand, or America, so clothing from any of these brands would have hence traveled a similar or larger distance. Buying the products in a store here in the city could be an option, as these items are shipped in bulk.
But transportation was not the most important. We believe it is most valuable to support a company that you trust, that you agree with. Buying a product means supporting the people that made it after all. The values that ROJK adheres to tightly align with our own. Should we have bought the coats in Sweden? Probably. But we didn’t need them at the time nor could we afford them.
Before we moved to Dublin, we lived in a camper van. All electric appliances were powered by the sun through solar panels on our roof. In our new apartment, this is obviously not the case. We are incredibly happy to have a fireplace that allows us to heat the space with wood. But cooking, showering, and powering all appliances will still require electricity on a daily basis. Though an electric supplier might not be your first concern in a sustainable lifestyle, they can actually have a huge effect on your impact on planet Earth.
Jordy spent quite some time researching various energy suppliers and the company that stood out was Energia. Aside from being one of the most affordable, the energy they provide is 100% renewable wind-energy. Isn’t that a win-win situation? 😉