On average, one human generates approximately 4 lbs of waste per day. That’s 112 lbs a month. 1,344 lbs a year! We’re 7 billion people on this planet. Most of this trash will take hundreds of years to decompose – way past your children’s lifetime – into tiny toxic microplastics. Let that sink in for a minute.
Traumatized yet? Us too. We can’t get the image of the world as a giant mass of floating trash out of our heads. And that is the direction we’re headed in. But we consider ourselves active optimists. We prefer to look on the bright side, be empowered to change and put our words into actions.
Plastic has become so embedded in our everyday lives that we barely notice it anymore, and in turn, wastefulness has become a habit. We are constantly throwing things away, most times after having only used it once, without even thinking twice. It’s become completely automatic, reflexive and in our minds, inconsequential.
24h of zero waste seems like a reasonable amount of time and everyone is so quick to assume they can do it. We want to remind you – waste is any substance which is discarded after a single use. Order a coffee at Starbucks — plastic lid; lunchtime at the office — grab a plastic fork; need a new set of headphones, out of shampoo, want a Snickers chocolate bar — packaged in plastic; It’s everywhere.
So it needs to be said, going zero waste is not easy. It doesn’t need to be a perfectly smooth path and you will make mistakes. That’s ok. The point is you’re trying. We have a tendency to deviate from a challenge when it seems insurmountable. But we have to start somewhere, we have to try, or we our giving up on our only home.
Here’s how our 24 hours went (in Costa Rica):
- Woke up for an early morning surf, grabbed my collapsible cup and hit the road. Ali and I took a collectivo (a $1 shared taxi) to the beach and went to the only coffee shop open at 5:30am.
- Grabbed my board and took a $1 taxi boat across the crocodile inhabited river so Ali (my Australian Cattle dog for those who haven’t seen his adorable face plastered on social media) didn’t have to swim with the big reptiles.
- After a two hour surf session, went to the local breakfast hotspot, Santa Rita cafe, for some good food. Whipped out my linen napkin – no need for the paper napkins – and my glass straw for my Dragon Fruit smoothie.
- After a little work on my laptop and a full belly, I took the rest of my breakfast to go – using my collapsible Bento Box of course. So far so good, zero waste.
- Having friends over for dinner, so I hopped back in a collectivo and headed to the local fruit market with my Gaia Wild kit in hand.
- Get to fruit market AKA my happy place. Whip out my string bag and start to collect everything I need for a delicious stir fry. Throw some red peppers, tomato and onions in my bag. Cilantro, basil and all the delicious spices right into my produce bag. Damn, the broccoli is wrapped in plastic… Go with the cauliflower instead. Head to check out. Ask for no receipt.
- Drop groceries off at home and head to secret beach for some freediving, water visibility has been amazing. Saw a turtle, Reggie the Manta Ray and got stung by jellyfish. It’s been a good day, dear diary.
- Grab my reusable bag and collect pieces of trash washed up on shore – plastic toothbrush, beer cans, a piece of what seemed to have been an old BBQ. Reminder: Wash reusable bag.
- Couple hours in the water and i’ve worked up an appetite again. Time for some local trunk food. What is trunk food? Essentially it is a sweet older lady selling delicious food out of the back of her car for 2,500 colones (about 4$). Bad news is she uses styrofoam containers and plastic cutlery. Good news is I have my bento box (emptied the breakfast leftovers at home) and my bamboo cutlery. Some classic rice, beans, salad and plantain for lunch – put a smile on my face.
- Nap time. Yes.
- Meet up with a friend to watch the sunset. Stop by a supermarket on the way. She buys a mojito in a can. Somehow, those are delicious. I practice self-restraint. Mojito in a can = waste. Health of our planet > Desires.
- Lightbulb goes off. Can get a mojito in a glass at the beach bar. Win win.
- After watching the sun sink into the horizon, head home for a little time in the hammock and a good sleep before tomorrows surf session. The day was a success. 24 hours, zero waste. Sacrifices were made, solutions were found, all in all – feel pretty good. How about a week of no waste… Possibly the next challenge?
We would like to challenge you to go just 24h without generating any waste. To steer you in the right direction, we’re giving away a FREE Keep Gaia Wild Zero Waste Kit ($54.99 value) to the most creative story – bonus points for complete transparency and humour.
All you need to do is share your honest account of what your experience was like including any setbacks, mishaps and any innovative ideas you came across that could help our community in our journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle.
Email your story to : firstname.lastname@example.org