Zero Waste x Eco Baltia Group = Change of Mindset For a Global Impact

We met up at the Digital Freedom Festival 2019 with our zero-waste Ambassador Māris Simanovičs, Eco Baltia group Chairman of the Board to discuss sustainable cycles & zero waste implementation opportunities, as well as challenges. Here are the main takeaways and some facts and truth bombs you should know.

Not so fun facts for mother nature

We all are affected by global warming and environment change that it brings. At a personal level, everyone is getting happier that the summers are getting longer and warmer, but at a global – this is a bad sign for ones harvesting crops and growing animals and wildlife in general. Simanovičs says that currently, Earth hosts 7.7 billion people who generate 2.1 billion tons of waste annually. Aren’t these numbers shocking? With such a pace we will soon “swim in the ocean of trash”! If you are living in Latvia, then you’re probably producing approx. 438 kg of waste per year, that’s slightly more than 1 kg of waste on a daily basis. That’s a fairly small number if compared to other EU countries like Finland, Estonia, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Sweden and Lichtenstein which are the top 6 countries producing major waste levels, as seen in “Eurostat” reports. Just to compare, Finland makes approx. 17 times more waste than Latvia. 

The worst impact each year is done by the production and incineration of plastic. That emits about 400 million tonnes of CO2 globally, a part of which could be avoided through better recycling, as repeatedly emphasized by European Parliament. The main issues complicating plastic recycling are the quality and price of the recycled product, compared to their unrecycled counterpart. Plastic processors require large quantities of recycled plastic, manufactured to strictly controlled specifications and at a competitive price.

3.4 billion tons of waste by 2050 

Forecasts estimate 9.8 billion people who will generate 3.4 billion tons of various waste materials annually within the next 30 years. And the cause of this much waste is our lifestyle, we consume more than we need, we overpack things and we even use the natural resources that should belong only to the next generations. So what is the future we are leaving for our successors, the children? 

The DFF Zero waste Ambassador Eco Baltia group believes we should change or attitude and start making a change today as individuals because it does make a difference. While sustainable living speakers like Greta Thunberg and various companies are talking about making a difference, it really starts with us and our households to make that change happen, so that future generations could survive. 

Practical steps towards zero waste lifestyle – know the 5 R’s

Refuse – it stands for more mindful purchase behavior like “do I really need this thing I’m about to buy”? Statistically, 90% of the stuff we buy is wasted within 6 months and 50% is not needed at all. To cut the costs, miscellaneous cheap stuff is produced using chemicals and materials from questionable sources that produce a lot of carbon footprints and poisons the soil and oceans. If you don’t know where to begin, just don’t use plastic bags and cocktail straws for starters.

Reduce – don’t do an impulse buy and reduce your general consumption. The majority of things we buy are giving just cheap and quick thrills. Having less and multipurpose products actually makes life easier in many ways. For starters, you pay less (e.g., when using public transport), spend less time getting and maintaining things you don’t use and you need less space for things you own, like clothes. 

Reuse – it starts with reusing water and coffee cup when you’re outside the home. Donating your clothes that are in good condition, but you actually haven’t worn more than 3 times is also good way to start. Or just save wrapping paper and boxes to use them again.

Repurposestop using disposable products and check out YouTube DIY (do it yourself) videos where you can learn to give a second life to that broken chair, make it in a table e.g. 

Recycle – start sorting your trash and placing it in special containers for recycling. Afterward, modern technologies help recycle trash into new, reusable materials, but the impact question here is – whether you as a consumer demand these materials in the first place and if it’s something new – do you check how it will be disposed of? Never underestimate your purchase power. 

Rot – this is quite easy, don’t just throw your kitchen scraps away, but make a compost. This is possible even when you own an apartment. The compost later can be used as fertiliser for indoor plants. This means that you won’t need to empty your trash daily. 

What step are you at?