Hey everyone! Thanks for checking in on my journey, I’m really excited to be taking part in the #MakeAPledge initiative and I can’t wait to get started!
Let’s start with the basics: I’m Lilia, I’m 25 years old and I’m British. I’ve been living in Denmark for the last year and a half, and I currently study MA European Studies at Aarhus University. I joined the European Footprints’ #MakeAPledge initiative because I’ve become really passionate about reducing plastic waste over the last few years – and I’m hoping to inspire others to join me on my journey to make Aarhus a more plastic free place! This is me, enjoying a coffee (in a re-usable enamel mug😉) after winter-bathing in the Kattegat this February!
Why is it important?
According to the EU in 2018, less than a third of plastic in Europe is recycled – which unfortunately means that the rest of it ends up in landfill, or even worse, the sea. Plastic consumption is rising exponentially, and if we don’t do something about it soon, we’ll end up with more plastic than fish in our oceans – that’s pretty scary. Although the EU recently legislated against the use of 10 categories of Single-Use Plastics (such as straws) which is great, and will definitely be a great help on the mass production/corporation side of things, there are still many types of plastic that are not covered.
If we all do just a little bit to ensure our plastic is recycled instead of washed out to sea, together we can end up making a really big difference!
So, what am I going to do about it?
My goal is to promote sustainability, particularly recycling initiatives, around Aarhus University and the city itself. So, you ask, how am I going to achieve this? Well that, my friends, is a very good question!
I had initially planned on starting a petition for my university to install recycling bins, but after some research into the recently established AU Climate Strategy, I noticed that this is already on the agenda. I emailed the sustainability office to get some more details, and they told me the bins would be coming soon, but the works had been delayed by a certain corona-shaped spanner. So, no need to petition there. Great news for the environment, not so great news for my pledge!
Back to the drawing board
However, it’s not all doom and gloom… Although the presence of recycling bins is a huge step forward, it won’t make a difference if no one cares about using them.
In my experience, the Danish recycling system is quite basic: there’s a bin for regular trash, a bin for paper and cardboard, and a bin for mixed glass/metal/plastic. So, you would think most people would find it easy to recycle when only a minimum amount of sorting is necessary… but it seems to me that many people just don’t care, and put everything in the regular trash. Except for ‘pant’, of course. Denmark has a bottle-deposit scheme, which people most definitely do care about – because you pay up to €0.40 deposit per bottle, so it really adds up! (It’s also a great little reward for throwing a party – I always use the returned deposit money to buy some greasy hangover food🍟)
So, I’ve decided that my first step should actually be to raise awareness about plastic waste and the importance of recycling and hopefully grow a community in Aarhus that will share ideas, advice, and recommendations to throw plastic waste into the spotlight. As it’s Corona-times and Denmark is still in a semi-lockdown, the safest and most practical way to get this started is definitely a good ‘old’ fashioned Facebook group, which you can join here!
Now, I’ve never been the admin of a Facebook group before or started an online community, so I’m a little nervous…but I’m sure that everything will work out just fine!
This blog will mainly document the progress of this group, and share ideas and initiatives from the community, which I hope you’ll be able to implement in your town too.
Some tips to reduce plastic waste:
I couldn’t write a blog about reducing plastic waste without sharing some tips to reduce single-use plastics. So the end of each blog post will share some tips which revolve around a different theme! Today we are in the bathroom:
1) Ditch the plastic toothbrush! Toothbrushes are technically not ‘single-use’ as, of course, most people use them twice a day. However, they have such a short lifespan, it really is unnecessary for them to be made from something as sturdy and non-biodegradable as plastic. Switching to bamboo is an easy choice these days, as many mainstream supermarkets have started stocking them and they are usually not priced too differently from the plastic versions. I buy mine from Rema1000 here, and it costs around €2.70 for a pack of two!
2) Who needs liquid shampoo and shower gel?! This is honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my wallet. I now use solid bars of soap, shampoo, and conditioner. Not only do they last much longer, they are much cheaper and are also an absolute dream to take on holiday – no more decanting into those tiny travel bottles! Just make sure you keep them fairly dry, my boyfriend kept his shampoo bar in the shower once… of course, it didn’t end well. So make sure you get a soap dish or a little tin to protect your solid soap. You can buy one, or up-cycle an old jar lid and some elastic bands, like in the photo below!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this first installment of my blog and I hope you’ll follow my journey. I would love it if you would consider joining my pledge to raise awareness about plastic waste in your town – and maybe even set up your own community group!