A little guide to living less waste in Mexico
Have you even wondered what happens to your garbage after you throw it? If not, then I encourage you to do it, if yes then you might have heard about the zero-waste movement or maybe something about reducing the amount of waste we produce. Maybe you are already doing some of these things and you are just not aware of it. For me it started quite recently, partially because of my sister who was always more, let’s say, eco-aware. Partially I got more involved due to various social campaigns.
In Poland, where I am from, this whole big national conversation about being more eco friendly began with campaigns concerning straws. And yes, some people made fun of it saying it won’t change anything. Of course, we need more radical actions, but I honestly believe that it started something. It became a topic of everyday conversations, it even began to be a bit of a trend (a good one), it stopped being a thing only ‘eco-freaks’ cared about.
And let’s get one thing clear, I am not an expert in ecology or sustainable development or anything like that. I just quite recently started paying more attention to my influence on the environment and started experimenting with a less waste lifestyle.
I can’t say I can imagine living totally zero waste and in our times, I found it nearly impossible, but what I learned during my experience is that we all can and should at least try to.
Let’s start from the beginning…. Believe me, when I first started reading a group on Facebook about being zero waste I thought it was totally impossible for me to live that way, to wash clothes in nuts, to use only cosmetics in bars or produced in glass, to use every part of a vegetable you buy, to reuse and repair. After reading it with a more open mind I finally realized that, yes, there are some people, more and more, who are really committed and that’s great! But they also started with some small things and that was a path I could follow. I strongly believe that in order to change your habits concerning being more eco-friendly, it’s important to start with things that are possible for you to change otherwise, you can get discouraged quite easily and decide that’s not for you. Remember, it’s a process; for everyone, those just beginning, but also those you are already more advanced. What worked for me? I made a list. But I guess it doesn’t really matter whether you write it down or not. For me it was an important step because I had to spend some time thinking about the things I wanted to change, while remembering it needed to be realistic. Some of them were a success, some I found difficult to change. But if you are still interested, here are some of the things that worked for me. Let’s call it a little beginners guide to living less waste lifestyle.
I actually wrote to myself to stop wasting food. Which basically means to buy food with more consideration (lists again!) and pay attention to what you already have at home. If there is something you feel you won’t eat now or is starting to go bad, use it, freeze it or give it away, that’s what I always do before going on vacation. It’s still not ideal, but I see a lot of change in my kitchen (basically my freezer is always full). Next on my list: try to compost.
Having your own shopping bag was something I usually did in Poland, so I can say I had that habit since before. My first trip to a big supermarket in Mexico was an unpleasant surprise when I saw tons of really small plastic bags used to pack fully-stocked shopping-carts. I always have my own bag now and I really encourage everyone to do it, it’s a really easy way to reduce the use of plastic bags and hey, they also look really good! They can be a really cool accessory. Besides that, I also started paying more attention to the things I buy and how are they packed. I actually buy all the vegetables and fruits in my local shop so it’s non-plastic shopping and I am also supporting local companies, which is important to me. Next on my list: finding products in reusable/more environmentallyfriendly packages. A little side note on that topic, part of being less waste is to also reduce the amount of purchased items. That may be more concerning your clothes, things for home, etc., rather than food, but it’s definitely something worth thinking about.
For me it started with shampoo and soap in bars. This was easy to get used to and the process of trying different ones was quite fun. I also appreciate the fact that I am using products with less ingredients and they are definitely healthier for my skin. As a make-up remover, I use a special oil (in a plastic bottle, well… it’s a long way to perfection) and a cloth – so I reduce significantly the use of cotton pads. Ladies, I also encourage you to try menstrual cups, it’s not for everyone, but a lot of women who use it can’t imagine going back to other products. Even though it’s not easy changing everything in your bathroom, this might actually be quite fun to look for alternatives and it can also turn out to be beneficial for the health of your skin. Next on my list: I tried it already, but I want to make it a constant thing: to make my own peeling from used coffee grounds.
REUSABLE WATER BOTTLES
I chose to write about it separately because it is something that I find quite challenging here in Mexico when in Poland it was one of the first things I changed successfully. In Poland, you can drink tap water, so wherever you are, you can just refill your bottle, that simple. In Mexico, it is a bit tricky and I must say that it’s impossible for me not to buy small bottles of water from time to time. But still, I have this huge bottle of water at home and wherever I go out I just fill my reusable bottle. Next on my list: well, it’s not really about water, but I want to buy a coffee mug for my to-go coffees.
This is a similar situation. It’s something I got used to doing in Poland and found it to be a bit problematic here in Cholula. I found only one place with special containers for plastic, glass, paper and metal in Puebla and I take all my recyclable trash there. But I understand that’s more challenging since there are not many special containers available.
I am aware that there are way more ways to live a less waste lifestyle, but for me this is just the begging and I actually feel encouraged and ready to take next steps. What I wanted to express mostly is that I think small changes and small steps do matter.What I found really helpful was the internet (of course) and groups for people who are willing to live eco-friendlier. Once I stopped comparing myself to others and started looking at it as a community of like-minded people I found a lot a cool suggestions, tips and very creative ways of reducing waste. Also, if you are trying to convince someone what I found to be more effective is to do it with more support and less judgement. Hopefully you feel that way now?
Marysia – I’m from Poland, currently living in Cholula. I am studying Spanish here at Zaloa Language School. I love food, movies and travelling. In my free time I take classes of Mexican cuisine and discover new places in the city (preferably with something to eat). Professionally I am a project manager working in a cultural institution.