Start Lessen Your Waste Impact : the Guide, part.1 (Food, Home, and Personal Care)


Like our promise in the previous post, we will share you some ideas on how to live the zero-waste life for real! Relax, no need to hold your breath. It’s not a rocket science. And so much as we know that in this 7,5-billion-people-inhabited earth our individual action might be so microscopic to the whole thing, keep in mind that there might be millions of people who have this exact hesitation as you are in the first place. Then, imagine the impact if those number of people eventually commit to this less-waste lifestyle. Our action would be like one beautiful pointilism painting--a desirable image built from small, distinct dots.

How should we start then? We can start to get used to generate less waste in these 3 sole things in our daily life that might become the first thing you think of when you wake up--Food, Home, and Personal Care.


Food (Eating and Drinking)

  1. Ditch the plastics, bring your own containers


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Treat yourself some rad water bottles, stainless steel mugs, food containers, and lunch boxes that you will use everyday in your life when you’re out from home. You can use it to bring your lunch to school or work, to get your morning dose of caffeine in your favorite coffeeshop that unfortunately always serve the drink in the paper cups(so you can still get your favorite drink, guilt-free), to replace the takeaway foods’ disposable packaging (you can kindly ask the waiters to put your order into your own food containers), to contain your leftovers (when the conversation becomes too fun to ignore, you can simply put your food in your container and enjoy it after that), etc.

Some people might think it is peculiar to always bring your own food/drink container, but we can always explain why(and hopefully inspires other to do the same). Btw, if you think that paper cups are ‘less harmful’ than plastic cups, think again. The inner part of paper cups are lined with plastic coatings (not to mention the lids), so it’s very much the same. And some of the F&B business still made their orders in the disposable containers, move it to your containers after that, and then throw the disposables away. It usually happen because the workers there want to give you the exact same amount of food/drink as the ‘normal measurement’ (aka the disposable containers). Moral of the story : also pay attention to the process, not just the end result. We can always try to make people become aware of this issue.

  1. Always carry reusable cutlery


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Sometimes you’ll never know when you will get that ~growing urge~ to have snacks. You want to have ramen while doing road trip with your friends, you managed to put that takeaway ramen in your food container but ngggg you don’t want to use that disposable chopsticks.....if you got you’re own utensils this thing would not be a problem since you can just refuse the restaurant’s chopsticks offer. It’s ok if this culinary weapon that you bring is actually made from plastic(just make sure it’s the safe one), but if you want to go more eco-conscious you can opt for the ones that made from bamboos, or any other degradable materials.

  1. Ice cream cone!


Most population of this world undoubtedly loves ice cream. It’s a feel-good food! Eventhough it’s better for your health not to eat ice cream too often, but still everytime we walk past an ice cream parlor we will feel those ice-cream-siren calling *lol. Everytime you hear that calls, just make sure that you choose to order the ice cream with cones, not with the disposable cups. Not only it’s more eco-friendly, it’s also adds up the delight, right? And when you want to bring some home, you can always order it in your container.


Home (Household Cleaning & Grocery Shopping)

Well this is quite tricky, since in Indonesia there are not much of eco-friendly stores that sell especially household cleaning stuffs in bulk--yeah, the packagings are mostly plastics, and that’s an absolute trash, my friend. For grocery shopping, it is easier here since it is quite common to buy vegetables and fruits using that one dedicated bag to go fruit-and-veg shopping (it is usually made from weaved plastics, but at least people use it over and over, instead of using plastic bags for just one time). Generally in Indonesia it requires more effort--even in the big cities--to go zero waste full-fledged, especially in an affordable expense. But, trying to suppress your waste as much as you can is always better, so here are some ideas to lessen your waste production.

  1. Reusable shopping bags


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It is very delightful to see many supermarkets and minimarkets are encouraging their customers to bring their own shopping bags and charged their plastic bags. It gives the sense that we’re all in this together! One thing : reusable bags are not only for grocery shopping, but for all of your purchases--books, clothing, shoes, electronics, etc. It will be better if you have it in several different sizes, so you can choose what’s the suitable one when you’re going to purchase something. If you got a car or motorcycle, you can just stash ‘em in your baggage, and always remember to bring them along when you get into the store.

By the way, this reusable shopping bags could be in many various form. It doesn’t always have to be that big green shopping bag with the big statement “SAVE OUR EARTH” that would look so overrated. Some prefer it to be a vinyl-sized totebag, messenger bag, semi-basket jute bag, or even a backpack for the more practical way to carry. It’s up to you!

  1. Vinegar + water = all-purpose spray cleaner


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The mixture is 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. Then you can store it in a reused spray bottle, and voila! You can use it to clean your windows, carpets, remove bacteria and pesticide residues from fruit and vegetables, remove sticky label residue, etc. You can buy the vinegar for both your cleaning and kitchen need, so there are less trash produced if compared to when you buy 2 products for separate needs.

P.S. Don’t use the vinegar to clean granite/marble/stone parts of your furniture, since acid can etch these surfaces. Egg stain, when cleaned with vinegar, also became more difficult to remove. Some stains like ink and blood could be removed with a mixture of vinegar, but not ONLY a vinegar.

  1. Baking soda is great for the dishes

It scours well and leaves the dishes feeling squeaky clean. Plus, you can buy it in a bulk.

  1. Always choose the biggest size

Not only for household cleaning products, you can also apply this idea of ‘buying in bulk’ for foods. While it is still hard to find household cleaning products that could be bought in bulk in Indonesia, we can always try to suppress our waste production by buying the products in its biggest size. At least we produce the waste in less often frequencies, right?

  1. Buy juice from your local juice stall instead of buying juice in boxes

Juices in boxes that you can find in supermarket is undeniably delicious and great to be enjoyed in tropical area, but hey--those boxes, yeah. So, instead of consuming the boxes one, it is better to sip the ones that the local juice stall sell. Put it in your own water bottle, and one more important point is : the fruits are fresh, so it is obviously healthier.

  1. Buy fresh breads that comes either in paper bags or no bags

Now it is easy to find bakeries which sell their bread unpacked--they’ll pack it once the customer ask for it, but if you bring your own container you can simply put it in yours.

  1. Bring your own reusable sack when you buy rice


Instead of using the common plastic bags or already-packed rice, you can reuse your rice sack or bring along your rice container when you buy this Southeast-Asian mandatory food.

  1. Bring your own container for meat or fish
  2. Choose fresh milk from the farm

If you buy it from the milk seller near your house (not straight from the farm), don’t choose the already-packaged one; ask them to pour their stock right to your jar/bottles.

  1. Limit the consumption of supermarket’s frozen food, try to buy the homemade one--don’t forget to bring your own container when buying it

There’s a growing number of homemade frozen food business in Indonesia that sells snacks like sambosa, kebab, risoles, bakpao, nuggets, etc that they made themselves at home. It’s better to buy the frozen foods from them since we can request them to not provide packages for our order, since we will bring our own. Besides, it can be a fun alternative to all that packaged snacks that obviously will generate waste after consumption.

  1. Shop at the local farmers market


They sell fruits, veggies, meat, fish, spices--all without plastic (and labels) and we should be happy for that! Don’t hesitate to put all your fruit and veg in the same bag, and don’t worry if they’ll get a little dirty--we’ll wash them all anyway. Bring along small containers to carry your spices, tofu, or small, easy-to-get-crushed fruits like grapes.


Personal Care

Just like the household cleaning products, affordable eco-friendly personal care products also still quite tricky to find in Indonesia. But here’s another ‘cheat-sheet’ for you.

  1. Buy in a bulk


Of coooouurrsssse. There will still be some waste, but yeah, nice try yo.

  1. Go for the squatting toilet, or the sitting one but with bidet or sprinkler

...So you don’t have to throw any used toilet paper. And if you’re Southeast Asian, most of us are used to use water instead of toilet paper to get clean-up, so kudos for you!

  1. Use reusable feminine hygiene products


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Even though it’s still not a common thing, but using reusable and washable menstrual pads (made from cloth) is becoming more popular now in Indonesia, and maybe some other countries. There’s also another zero-waste option, menstrual cup, which is washable and can be reinserted.

  1. Make your own personal care products


There’s a big number of tutorial of making your own scrub, soap, etc around the world wide web, so it’s great for those who don’t want to throw any soap packaging anymore! The ingredients are mostly easy to find at the local markets, so why don’t you give it a shot?


Written by Nadia Maya Ardiani

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