Zero Waste Tokyo

Zero Waste Tokyo

Busy, hectic, eclectic and clean. Just four words I'd use to describe Tokyo.

I was very lucky to be able to visit Tokyo with work, sadly it was a fleeting visit of only five days but this was almost enough to see a snapshot into how the Japanese culture functions. 

I went there for the Tokyo Marathon and was seriously impressed at the organised recycling scheme they have out their, in fact they often have people manning them to make sure people recycle properly. I feel like Charlotte and I would score high on that job interview ;)

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Zero Waste Berlin

Since opting for a zero waste lifestyle I now find it relatively easy as I've got a routine. I know where to buy zero waste food, what tupperware I'll need in London and I remember to constantly ask for drinks without a straw. 

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However when you go to a new country it's a WHOLE new ball game. Each country looks at waste differently as they have often have different systems of dealing with it. If you're thinking of heading to Berlin, here are some of my zero waste tips:

  • Bring a beeswax bag or cotton bag – there are copious amount of bakeries selling yummy pretzels. Luckily, they don't mind you offering up your bag instead of a paper bag. 
  • You can drink the tap water – there's no need to buy plastic bottles, just bring a metal water bottle and you can fill up anywhere. If you do forget your bottle, most of their plastic cups are compostable, which is great!  
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  • Most people in Berlin speak English – for me it was relatively easy to ask for drinks without straws, but be wary that they do still use them.
  • Bring a coffee cup – like most cities this is essential, cafes will often give you take away cups so be extra wary of this. Similarly to the water bottles, their coffee cups are biodegradable though.
  • THEY SELL ZERO WASTE CUCUMBERS! In the UK these are non existent, so when I saw these on the shelf I accidentally yelped out loud in glee before realising that no one else would understand my excitement... 
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  • In every train station you have to buy a paper ticket – I haven't found a way around this but if anyone finds one let me know! 
  • Napkins are EVERYWHERE – it's worse than in the UK! I was constantly refusing them as I took my handkerchief, as per usual. I was on the end of plentiful puzzled looks for refusing a napkin though!
  • They sell yoghurt in glass – sadly I couldn't bring one home as I was only there for a long weekend and couldn't fit the glass in my hand luggage. It's nice to know that you can have a glass option over plastic, though.
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I have to admit I was very impressed with Germany as a whole, they're a conscious country when it comes to waste and they promote recycling just about everywhere. You can even collect cans or plastic bottles and get paid to recycle at one of Germany's many bottle returning machines. This often means that the homeless collect/people donate bottles for them to cash in, which I think is a great concept. 

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What a great way to re-use cartons! 

What a great way to re-use cartons! 

Earth Friendly Travel Tips

I know, I know. Holidays abroad as a whole aren’t environmentally friendly.

We know there is a large environmental impact that comes along with travelling abroad. Nevertheless, Anna and I really enjoy travelling. While we do enjoy our fair share of stay-cations to opt out of the air miles, we still rack up the air miles. 

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We're lucky enough to have been to some incredible places around the globe and we have more holidays lined up this year. All holidays take preparation and trying to create no waste whilst on holiday adds to this planning time. I’ve outlined some of the things to consider when preparing to travel around to ensure the minimum amount of waste is being created...

Not packing crappy clothes I’ll never wear again

Primark bargains are alluring ways to fill the suitcase with 25 new outfits that will be worn once and thrown out. But, in the UK, we get rid of...

"680 million pieces of clothing per year, 235 million of which go straight to landfill" (Guardian, 2017)

I buy new clothes less and less now as I opt for second hand. I've really reduced my wardrobe size so that most of the individual items complement each other and the same goes for holiday packing, which means being able to pack SUPER light is becoming increasingly easier.

If I do want to buy a new piece of clothing, I save up to buy a higher quality piece of clothing which has been ethically made out of natural fabrics. This way I know that the production has a lower impact on the environment and when it comes to the end of its life, it can be easily recycled.

Taking a water bottle

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I really hate how airlines make people throw away plastic water bottles as you go through customs and then overcharge you to buy some more water when you’re in the departures area. I know it is a safety requirement to not carry liquids, so I drink or pour out the water from my bottle (I’ve been know to water the plants around various airports with it!) before going through customs, and refill on the other side.

When taking a water bottle on the flight, you have to be careful of pressure! Slightly loosening the lid before take off, will help stop the water exploding over you, like it has to me on numerous occasions...

Carrying snacks or a meal

Check with the flight company before taking my word for it on this one, but most airlines will allow you to carry food as long as they do not contain ingredients which might cause someone to have an anaphylaxis shock.

I’ve taken fruit on planes (both fresh and dried) and sandwiches which I keep in a lunchbox in my bag. I also have an old, but robust, plastic fork and spoon which I take on trips abroad with me. I’m conscious that a plastic knife may be harder to get through customs, so leave this at home.

The Zero Waste essentials get a holiday too!

The Zero Waste essentials get a holiday too!

Once I have arrived at my destination, I clean the box and utensils so I can use them when buying street foods on holiday.

I did used to really enjoy plane food, however, its excess non-recyclable waste makes it impossible for me to justify eating it anymore.

 Reducing the liquids I take on board

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I managed it. Two weeks, and no more liquids than the flight allowance allows. This was possible because I was travelling with a zero waste mentality!

Shampoo

I have solid shampoo bars from Lush, and I love them! They pack very light and can double as a bar of soap if needed.

Toothpaste

I am yet to transition to plastic free toothpaste (I’ve somehow collected hordes of tubes that need finishing up!) so I took a tube of paste along with my bamboo toothbrush.

Body wash

Like the shampoo, I buy a solid block of this, so it doesn’t count towards my liquid allowance.

Deodorant

I make my own deodorant and will post the recipe on here soon. I put the deodorant into a small pot, and it lasted the full trip.

A razor

I took my butterfly razor, with no blade in it. I then managed to buy a single blade for the trip and recycle it before I flew home.

Makeup

I wear very minimal makeup, but what I do wear was decanted into tiny jars and was enough to last the duration of the trip.

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I hope that passing on these tips will help to reduce the amount of excess packaging that can be created through travelling abroad!