Dreaming of a waste free city

Have you ever seen the downtown after a Friday night, before they would start cleaning the streets? I have: trash, trash everywhere… I was recently so disappointed by the amount of unnecessary waste and the impact it has on Planet Earth, that when I met the no-waste wave, I jumped right on to it.

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A plastic wrap I found on the coast near Lisbon – I was really upset about the amount of trash the ocean contains and washes out to the beaches

I mean, how hard can it be? – I asked myself. Most of the trendy bars, restaurants and shops are already considerate of different intolerances like lactose, gluten or sugar. But obviously, you can’t just walk in and state that you are waste-intolerant. And as it turned out, minimizing the waste in one’s life is a challenge indeed.

For your information, being waste-free means consuming as few unnecessary and environmentally unfriendly products as possible, recycling as much as possible and leaving as little trash behind as possible. Some people claim that their monthly waste is less than a jar, or that they are recycling everything, but I suspected I couldn’t go this far. However, I tried. Here is my journey about waste and Budapest.

I faced the first difficulties when I went out. Most of the fashionable clubs, pubs and bars would serve your drink in plastic cups, so you can go out for a smoke holding them, walk to another place with them and can’t harm anyone – plus, they don’t have to wash the dishes afterwards. Additionally, they would automatically put straws in your long drink. So what should I do? Asking for real glasses might sound rude, and they did not take it well. Bringing my own glasses would have been even weirder. So I finally decided to keep my first plastic cup, and ask for refills – by far the most environmentally friendly and also the easiest way.

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You see? A plastic cup and a straw in it!

Grocery shopping is wasteful too: most of the fruits and veggies come wrapped in plastic or you are encouraged to put them all into plastic bags which you would throw out as soon as you unpack them. So I tried bringing my own bags. I think the security guy thought, that I was going to steal those apples, but who cares. I’m not a huge fan of sodas and soft drinks, and I would drink tap water, so I did not have to worry about the PET bottles, and I promised I would recycle every wine bottle I finished, wash them out and collect everything else selectively.

Recycling became my newest hobby anyways: I am collecting every empty joghurt cup and newspaper as well as price tags from clothes I bought and empty packs of cigarettes I smoked. I would give my leftover food to homeless people and the peels of vegetables to my pet rabbit. I would bring my own mug to coffeshops and pack my own lunch in a box. I keep refusing to have straws in my drink and bringing my bags to the shop. And ultimately, I replaced the pads and tampons I used during my period with a menstrual cup.

But am I waste-free? No. Being waste-free is impossible: one would leave paper tissues and containers of cosmetics behind, among other things. Sometimes I would forget my mug or my lunch or desperately crave a bottled drink. But I like to believe that I made Budapest, the city I love, and Earth, the only planet we can live on a tiny little bit cleaner. And you know what my newest mission is? To spread this knowledge, this lifestyle, and encourage my friends to be waste-free-er.

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