Tuesday, November 24, 2009

European Minimize Waste Week! How to Green a Charity and a Church?

It's the European MINIMIZE waste week, and since it's my not-so-eco sister's birthday this week and she said 'Noo, no zero waste week, it's my birthday!!' I decided to work on the community efforts. So far I've:

- been to a really cool charity concert and afterparty and nagged everyone about collecting plastic bottles separately afterwards, when cleaning up ('It's the European minimize waste week!' lol - people were nodding, one said her son gathered 30 kg of tins/Coca Cola cans and then got only 3 Euro for it! Which really is a crying shame! She said her husband makes them recycle, and I was very happy to hear it! Some others were not-so-green, and too much plastic and aluminum foil was used for leftover cookies and meats and such, stuff for stars and everyone to carry home etc - hope by next year we'll find better options? I mean, some boxes people brought cookies in remained empty - why not use those again?)

- got a bag and collected some plastic bottles separately (there were two big bags with mixed waste aready!) It was a 'they can't stop me' moment lol! Best way to do something like this is to just do it.
I was a bit shy at first, and shocked everything was in mixed bags, as they have 'being eco' in their 'legislation', and since there are mostly older women there, but well, the European minimize waste week gave me the extra energy needed! :)
Next year ideally I or Mum would be there before anyone started, and would put big labels on bags or boxes: PAPER, PLASTIC BOTTLES, organic stuff for compost, etc.
- fished some plastic bottles out of other bags
- saved some pretty little glass bottles of fate worse than the worst (there has been a really COOL suggestion of using them for art workshops for kiddies, to paint as vases, as they were prettily shaped; & ultimately they were taken by a lady to be filled with yummy tomato sauce!!)
- came to clean up next day and the bags were gone! (some are too hardworking! Yikes!)
- found the bags, set them aside to pick up with the car later - then they were gone again! At least our intentions were good, next year I must put them in the car before anyone can do anything evil with them!

- avoided the polka dancing
- talked to a major Slovenian pop star (YAY he's cute live!)
(didn't dare to talk about trash as there wasn't enough time, maybe next year?;)
I realized too late that the minimize trash week could be advertised on stage!

- inspected the priest's compost (apparently he has one!)
But why is trash NOT collected separately in the church coffee club, and old veggies are put in with the rest??
- talked to the priest about when to talk (next week!:)
Our priest is great and is head of the scouts who are very eco, but he likes Coca Cola and sweets like my sister!! :( So, I'm not sure how it will all go?
I hope at least the scouts would be interested in some eco actions? :)
Like giving cloth bags to people in front of supermarkets... Any good ideas for other eco actions?

- suggested cloth diapers to a local women's shelter boss lady (okay, Mum did! She brought it up herself, after I talked to her about it in the spring!)
The boss lady was somewhat shocked, and said other things were more important at the time, we're not taking it as a final no and are going to look for cloth diapers online! (Then if the moms want to buy own plastic diapers they can buy them with own money, or they can use the cloth for free? At least that was the idea.)

- networked with some really cool people (and got invited to sing at a local choir - am still contemplating it!:)
- sort of managed to change my biorhythm and get up EARLY!
Was online VERY little or not at all in the past two days, so saving electricity!:)

- checked out a local sweet shop and saw some ways they could minimize waste!
(shocked the sales assistant by not wanting ANY packaging - neither paper wrapping or paper bag - 'I'll eat it here', I said and grabbed it! Shocking, I know!;)

So, small, tiny things.. hope it'll snowball into something bigger!! :)
And I'd love to have a zero waste presentation for the charity in forseeable future! (They're keen to get supporters and want to get more young people 'in' soo...? ;)


  1. Oh WOW Layla - you've been busy!!
    I'm so impressed with your waste tackling techniques at the concert - I would have never though about doing something like that before! I guess the key would be to find out about these things before they happen and contact the organisers to see if they're being eco friendly and if/how you can help - I'm inspired now, theres a local group that puts on events in my town, I might contact them and see if they'd let me set up recycling bins and take them away at the end or somthing.

    and lol at inspecting the priests compost! :)

    Well done to your mum for talking to the women's shelter boss about cloth diapers - thats awesome! I hope the lady changes her mind now the seed of the idea has been planted in there - could you get a local company or the council to find a cloth diaper service or equipment for them I wonder, then she wouldn't have much of an excuse not to use it...

    Did you talk to the sweet shop people about how they could reduce their waste - or are you saving that conversation for another day? People are shocked when you don't want any packaging aren't they?! When I lived with my friend the veggie shop man used to call us 'the girls with mushrooms in their pockets' becuase we would forget our reusable bags, then refuse plastic bags and have to squeeze all our veggies into whatever avaliable space we had and run home before dropping any!

    Your actions are far from tiny and small - talking to people and spreading awareness is a really important step - well done you! :)

  2. WOW!
    What a fantastic sequence of green things you have done!!!
    I totally agree with Sooz – and she made me laugh too about 'the girls with mushrooms in their pocket"-! :D
    What to add? I can just say well done! And about Scouts... I was a girl scout when I was young. Surely Scouts are interested in green actions... because the same founder of the movement, Baden Powell, in 1945 said: "Leave this world a little better than you found it". And if the priest doesn't remember it, you can refresh his memory... ;D
    To give clothes bags out of supermarket is a good purpose, but you can also organise a market with second hand objects with them in order to save money for their camps or for charity donations...
    There is an entire world of things to do, but everything has its moment. So next year you'll do best!

  3. Here's my "bring your own bag" post from a couple of years ago http://libbiali.livejournal.com/15573.html Believe it or not, things have actually gotten better! I'm still in the minority, but no longer totally alone!

    Cloth diapers are an interesting issue. While the tons of plastic and paper that disposables involve is a BIG PROBLEM, I'm not sure cloth is automatically better, especially in an institutional/collective kind of setting. They demand loads of water for washing, not to mention the organic waste that goes into the sewage/water treatment systems. They make it much harder to control mess and contamination; they stay very wet when worn and demand much more (rather unpleasant) work from the staff.

    I've experienced this, so I've thought about it a lot. I've sort of come to believe that some kind of degradable, disposable liner which, along with the waste, can go into a well-managed landfill, along with washable/reusable outer garments (plastic etc.) may be the best solution...

    It's me rafqa. I had to log in as libbiali to unblock that entry.

  4. Hey Sooz! So great to hear you've been inspired!! :)

    Yeah, the key is to find out what's already being done (I was shocked!:) and then offer yourself to help out - OR just offer to help out and see what's being done & how, and then make it better!

    When I was at a Taize New Year meeting in Germany, volunteers with big bags were collecting tins and plastics etc separately YEARS ago!!

    I haven't talked to the sweet shop people directly yet, the owners have told me they do wish to avoid waste cause it's gotten very expensive, so hopefully they'll be interested in any ideas to minimize it! (They're relatives so some diplomacy may be needed!)
    If you know of a zero waste cafe/sweet shop/shop/bakery/etc, do tell!! How they go about it, what they do..

    lol about 'the mushroom girls'!! :)
    Yes, people are shocked ha ha!!
    Not sure if I'd put mushrooms in my pockets.. Am planning to make foldable cloth bags! :) to put in a pocket easily..

    Danda, you have really excellent ideas!! - I never thought a 2nd hand market could be combined with fundraising too!!
    Any other tips or ideas how to do it?
    WOW, you've been a girl scout!
    I always wanted to be, but was 'too big' when they came into our little town.. I still feel like 'half a girl scout'!

    Hey Libbiali - Rafqa - great to see you here!! :)
    That is a very touching blog post you linked to! So glad other people where you live started using reusable bags!! :)
    And bummer about the clerks not being more supportive! Here, some are very appreciative if you tell 'em it's for Earth Day or 'being eco'!

    I agree cloth diapers are a complex issue, especially eg for older people in big settings.
    In the women's house here, currently there's just one Mum with a kiddie that needs diapers, other kids are older.. I'm actually very much for 'no nappies since birth' for kiddies if/whenever possible! If I ever have a kiddie I'd surely try it!
    And for older people - prevention & Kegel's exercises etc! A lot could still be done in the area of nutrition etc.

  5. Oh, and about diapers to landfill - in Slovenia/EU that's not really an option anymore, as all things must go into an INCINERATOR first!! :(
    (Or maybe 'bioreactor'-no idea what that is or if it's better!)

    At the time all mixed waste needs to be 'treated', sorted, torn into little bits by trucks and the 'light fraction' (everything that isn't metal or glass or such) goes to incinerator in my Granny's town.

    Now the line where the tiny bits are sorted by magnets etc often gets stuck, due to metal wires getting caught in the system/machinery - and guess what! A HUMAN is needed to fix that!! Imagine the AWFUL smell!!
    (Not to think about the germs etc??)

    I do not know if waste like diapers from old people's homes goes into the system like that too, it would be interesting to find out..

    The problem with organic/biodegradable waste in landfills is that it produces methane, which is highly combustible, so explosions and all sorts of chemical reactions take place, and iffy toxics go into air (and land and water), so EU directive says organic matter in landfills must be reduced.
    You can read more about methane/landfill gas here: http://www.energyjustice.net/lfg/

    It would perhaps be better to 'compost' such (ideally organic and completely biodegradable) diapers, again it depends how ill the people were, what sort of medicines they were taking.. In many cases here compost from composting facilities is too polluted with heavy chemicals etc, and can only be used for flowers or parks at best, sometimes it's too polluted to landfill it??!!

  6. Well done to your mum for talking to the women's shelter boss about cloth diapers - thats awesome!

    Work from home India