The smell in Holland & Barret, a store that seeks to eliminate waste, is lovely. The shop – filled with pasta, licorice, grains, seeds and dried fruit served from hoppers to avoid plastic packaging; fair-trade coffee and chocolate, plus an array of environmentally friendly products, such as bamboo toothbrush holders, plastic-free dental floss and vegan leather snack pouches – looks lovely. The atmosphere is captivating, too.
Lieneke van der Wal has made it her mission to show anyone who cares that you can buy your groceries in a sustainable manner and without unnecessary packaging, the Leeuwarden Courant reports.
Another good place to learn about plastic-free life is the Friday farmers’ market on Zaailand where punters are required to bring their own bags for fruit and vegetables. You can also purchase multi-grain bread or delicious buns at the bread stalls that are not wrapped in plastic. Packaging-free cheese, fish, nuts and seeds are available, too.
Tips for a plastic-free life
It is not surprising that Lieneke’s Zero Waste Tour begins at the market. Listeners receive a wealth of tips on how to avoid waste when shopping in the city center on a Saturday. “Many people nowadays already take their own shopping bags with them,” says Van der Wal. “But there are many other ways to eliminate unnecessary single-use plastics.”
A few years ago, Van der Wal became involved in a grassroots citizens’ movement called Zero Waste Netherlands. The organization aims for a world in which waste does not exist. The packaging-free tours are part of the Week Without Waste. “If you want to contribute to a better environment, you can start right away. It takes some getting used to, but later you’ll find it normal to refill your shampoo bottle instead of buying a new one every time,” Van der Wal says.
Van der Wal freely admits she’s been unable to go totally plastic-free. But since she tries to do her shopping without packaging, the mountain of waste in her home has shrunk at least by half. “The daily groceries and meat consumption are still the biggest challenges. In most supermarkets, you really have to make a determined effort to find packaging-free products.”
Zero Waste Life
During the Zero Waste Week, the Dutch are challenged to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (also called 3Rs). During her upcoming Saturday tour, Lieneke van der Wal will demonstrate how you can do your shopping without packaging. By refusing things at source, or finding more sustainable alternatives, you can start to live a more zero waste lifestyle, she says.
If you wish to embark on a plastic-free journey, start with eliminating single-use disposable plastics:
- plastic bags (grocery bags, produce bags, etc.). The “working life” of a plastic bag is estimated to be about 15 minutes, but it lasts forever in the landfill. Invest in some reusable bags, or make use of items you already own, like old T-shirts.
- plastic bottles (water, soda). Bring your own container instead!
- plastic straws. Just say no! Or bring your own reusable.
- plastic lined cups (coffee). You guessed it: bring your own.
Then, if you wish to go further, consider the environmental impact of all of your purchases by following the 3Rs. Best case scenario: refuse the purchase that cannot be re-used or safely recycled.