Living with less waste

less waste

If you go grocery shopping with your own reusable cloth bags and containers, you’ll have a lot less plastic waste — and these accessories also look great in your cupboard. Journalist Anneke Bots finds out for herself and receives tips from Jessie Kroon, who has been living waste-free for the past four years with her sister.

Kroon: “Take a look in your trash can and you’ll see the kinds of things you’re throwing out and where you can really cut back,” she says. For me, this is mostly the plastic containers and bags for food, I tell her. “That’s not a surprise,” she says, “because the average person opens seven packages per day. Be sure not to overdo it. Nicky and I once started with a 30-day challenge, but that was a horrible failure. You can’t learn an entirely new lifestyle in such a short period of time; it takes a while to find alternatives. Just start out by eliminating disposable products from your life.

Fifty percent of the plastic soup consists of single-use plastics like straws, bags and bottles. Just take it step by step from there. When you run out of something in your pantry, look for alternatives. Out of shampoo? Try experimenting with a shampoo bar (a bar of soap for washing your hair). When you run out of pasta, see if you can buy it in an alternative way: packaging-free for example, or failing that, in larger packaging. Every bit makes a difference. When you start living a zero-waste life gradually, you’ll have a better chance of maintaining it and making it part of your routine. Once you’ve started, you’ll find that it’s addictive.”


The sisters have found alternatives for nearly everything. They brush their teeth with a bamboo toothbrush and use toothpaste tablets or homemade toothpaste, they order toilet paper packaged in paper online, and make their own lip balm. “Some things are hard to find, but more and more is becoming available all the time,” Kroon says.

“A growing number of people are using their expertise to find good alternatives. You can even experiment with things to find what you like, bathroom items for example. Try to find out which options you can stick with. And yes, there will always be things that aren’t available without packaging such as medication or birth control. But that’s okay too.”

  • Read the full story ‘Doing away with waste’ in Issue 29.

Text Anneke Bots  Photography Jilbert Ebrahimi/