A couple of years ago I did a promotion job for a huge cosmetics company and of course I took some of the products home. When my dear friend Aphrodite, a studied ecotoxicologist came over on day she showed me the ToxFox-App. The App was developed by the 'Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland e.V. (BUND) - Friends of the Earth Germany'. According to the environmental organisation GLOBAL 2000 around 1/3 of our cosmetics contain hormonally active substances, like cancer-causing substances or substances that can cause infertility. With the app you can check if your cosmetic products contain them as well.
How does ToxFox work?
ToxFox works really easy. After downloading the app you just scan the barcode of the product (in my case it was creams, face masks, shampoos, … etc.) and see right away if the product contains contaminants. After scanning the product a red or green symbol will tell you wether the product contains hormonally active substances or not.
What was the result?
So of course we tried the app and even tho it was a lot of fun to scan all the products, the results where catastrophic! I ended up throwing away most of the products.
It's not just that I don't want to use any products which contain contaminants. I also don't want to use any products where I don't even understand what's inside, like who knows what 'Sodium Methylparabene' or 'Polyquaternium-10' is? (except maybe you are a chemist) or which makes my skin look even worse than it actually is. I prefer natural products for my body. The ToxFox-App was a great way to start cleaning out my bathroom and make it plastic free. Ever since then I only use natural products for my skin like oils.
This week’s tip might be a bit weird but is a great way to start grocery shopping more conscious. Or at least it helped me a lot. When I first decided to reduce my waste production, I stopped buying fruits and veggies in plastic packaging, never mind if they were produced locally and/or organic. I decided that fruits and veggies in net bags were okay though, if I couldn’t get them loose. After a while I realised that net bags are either made out of plastic or cellulose. So, I decided to stop buying fruits and veggies in net bags made out of plastic. Net bags made out of cellulose where still okay tho, because cellulose is a wood fibre and trees are a renewable resource.
How do you know the difference between net bags made out of plastic or cellulose?
Just touch them and you will feel the difference. Often times the colours are different too. While plastic net bags often times come in bright colours (below left side), cellulose bags have natural colours (below right side, except for the red ones ;) ). Often times plastic bags break into small too.
Why is the difference between plastic and cellulose so important?
It might be a weird tip, but it is a great way to become more aware of what you buy or in which packaging fruits and veggies come. It made me realize for the first time how much plastic packaging there is for fruits and veggies. As a consumer we have the power to change things. Buying loose fruits and veggies or those in cellulose net bags are a way to show the companies that we prefer natural products, instead of plastic. So next time you go buy fruits and veggies in a supermarket, have a look at their packaging first.
I remember quite well when Starbucks first came to Austria. Their first branch was close to my school and so me and my friend would go there every week between classes to drink our hot milk (yes, they served hot milk back then) with sugar and other spices. A couple of years later I thought it was super cool to walk around in the city, looking busy with my Starbucks coffee to go in a hand. Sadly, I wasn’t they only person with this idea.
Meanwhile, every year more than 84 million single use cups are used in Vienna. While the average life span of a coffee cup is 15 minutes, the time it takes to decompose is more than 30 years. Most times they come with a single use lid and coffee sleeves, which lets the amount of waste even rise. The use of single use cups, comes with two major problems:
1. Throwing away the cups is like throwing away air. Even though the cups are empty, they do take up a lot of space (= “volume”) in a waste bin. Letting the amounts of waste rise artificially.
2. The cups can’t be recycled. The reason for it is simple and most times invisible for our eyes. The cups are lined with a thin layer of plastic. This makes them waterproof but not recyclable. The reason for it is because the thin layer of plastic can’t be separated from the paper in the recycling process. This means the cups will either be treated in a waste incineration plant (=they get burned) or even worse, they will go straight to landfill.
How can we solve the problem?
The solution to this problem is quite simple: Just bring your own cup :)
It might be difficult at first to ask the waiter to fill the coffee in your own cup. But the more often you ask, the easier it gets and the more comfortable you will feel.
Many coffee shops started offering discounts to customers who bring they own cup. So just bring your own cup, save some money and waste from going to landfill. Also, not only you avoid waste, but coffee shops do too.
3 pieces of trash = 1 reusable coffee cup
By using your own cup, you can save a lot of waste from going getting burned, or even worse, going to landfill.
Like most other people I love drinking coffee in the morning. To avoid waste and to have a delicious tasting coffee I use a Bialetti. The coffee tastes delicious and what is left in the end are always the coffee grounds. Coffee grounds can be reused for multiple things:
How do I reuse coffee grounds?
First, make sure to dry them. To prevent the grounds from going mold, you should put the grounds on a plate after using them. Let them dry on a sunny place, for example by the window. When they are dry you can store them in a reusable jar.
Hey there, my name is Fiona. I love travelling and getting to know different cultures. Because of travelling I realised I don't need many things to live a happy life. My transformation started ten years ago with my first big trip to India, since then I live a very minimalistic lifestyle. For a couple of years now, it is not only minimalistic but also zero waste.
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