The First Realization and an Important One at That Too

Author: Soumak

The initial excitement of adopting a minimal waste lifestyle is great. We want to make a change – a positive one. Everything we lay our eyes on, feel like perfect candidates for waste reduction or even elimination.

I love to eat curd for breakfast with oats. I decided to make curd at home. Its easy to do away with the small plastic pouch or the bigger plastic tubs, I thought.

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And then I realized that the milk we use at home comes in a carton. There is no point in adding an empty carton to the waste bin just to reduce an empty plastic tub or a small pouch! The carton might be less harmful to the environment than the plastic tub, but that is not really a good excuse. The point, also, is to reduce the overall amount of waste. So, I realized that in order to make my curd “minimal waste compliant” I have to not only do away with the plastic tub or pouch, but also the milk carton.

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So, we needed a milkman who would deliver milk to our door which we need to take from him in our container.

However, I also quickly realized the plus point. By resolving the milk problem, we also would potentially solve the problem of the silver coloured paneer pouches. 🙂 We can make our own paneer too. How? Now, that is something we will have to learn.

Shweta loves to have “Slim Milk” tea. Is that something we would get from the milkman too or something that we can achieve at home? We are not sure at the moment. Maybe it is possible, who knows?

So, this was our first realization. That to make something “minimal waste” compliant, its not enough to resort to just making something at home. We will also need to ensure that the raw materials come package free or atleast with lesser packaging than the original item itself.

And that is where a big part of the challenge lies. 🙂

What does a Week’s Trash look like

Author: Soumak

So how did we start our minimal waste journey?

As the first exercise, we wanted to see how much trash or waste do we actually generate in a week. Of course, for the purpose of this exercise, we decided to focus only on the “dry waste” that we were generating – plastics, cartons, packaging material from online shops like Amazon (an example), papers, metals, clothes, etc.

At this point, it would also help to give an idea about how our family structures are like, because that plays a big role in what one consumes as a household. Also, it would make sense to mention where we were already at when we started in this journey.

Sonali and Sudhanshu stay together as partners in their apartment in Goa. They were already, to an extent, leading a conscious lifestyle, turning vegan, trying to consume less and also buying a lot of their daily consumption items from the Panaji market and local vegetable stores. So the amount of dry waste they were producing were not quite “alarming”, as you can see.

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Shweta and Soumak’s story is different. They have a 9 year old daughter, three pugs and also have a live-in household help. They were trying to do a few things like carrying their own bags for shopping and buying vegetables from local vendors and at times visiting the Panaji market. However, due to the larger family size, their consumption is much higher.

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The variety of things that come to their household are also higher and often to save costs, they ordered things in bulk from online shops like Amazon, Flipkart, etc. Also, they run their photography business from their house and that leads to a lot of additional packaging material for things they use for their deliveries to clients (hard disks, pen drives, etc as an example).

The photos below give an idea of the various things in their trash.

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It was a revelation of kinds. Though we had an idea that we were producing quite a bit of waste, but the sheer volume of a week’s trash just blew our mind. It showed that the decision that we have taken – to minimize trash – was a much needed initiative that should have been taken long ago.

So, this is where our journey begins.

Dislaimer: The brands shown in the photos are not to portray them in a negative light. They are all brands that are used in these two respective households.