From ‘…’ to ‘heaven’, my 1st week zero waste adventure in Washington DC and Eugene

 

It wasn’t easy to live zero waste lifestyle in the US, didn’t expect that I came out this conclusion for my first few days of YSEALI program!

The first meal I had outside of hotel was in a cafeteria in a Museum, I realised that they only provide disposables for dine-in customers. I requested one stall to serve food in reusable which the staff agreed to, but when my friend Kathy trying to do the same, the staff got angry and insisted to give her only disposables.

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Same stall, almost same food, different plates. 

Same happened when I was walking around in a supermarket nearby hotel, when I was taking pictures of a shelf of freshly baked pizza and thinking about taking away with my container, I was scolded by the staff. HAHA that was impressive. I ended up going back hotel with empty hands, fed myself with some fruits and went to sleep.

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This is the picture that  got me into trouble, but it looks delicious, isn’t it?

Since then I was not dare to raise any special request to anyone. Instead of taking away with my container, I chose to dine-in or takeaway leftover food from orientation lunch.

I also found it hard to get tea without tea bag since I came here. I don’t drink coffee, but I had no choice and ended up filling up hot coffee in my tumbler, just to fight against jet lag. I was also shocked to see how much disposable coffee cups were used every day in the hotel. The number could be reduced so much if the hotel at least provide reusable mug as an option at hot drinks counter.

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Common paper cups are not recyclable or compostable due to a thin plastic lining on the inner layer. Compostable cups are better? They are only compostable at commercial or industrial level composter which might not accessible to you. It requires huge amount of energy and water to generate a single compostable cup, why don’t we bring our own cup and wash with small amount of water?

But, everything become smooth from the time I stepped into Eugene, a small green town surrounded by mountains in Oregon. On the second day here, I went to the Kiva supermarket next to the hotel. I was so happy to see so many varieties of food available without packaging.

However due to the experiences I had in Washington, I dare not to ask the staff if I could use my containers to shop. Because when you are using heavy container to buy bulk food, first you need to tare before filling up food. And, yes, this cause trouble and I don’t want to get scolded again! 😛

Instead of containers, I used paper bag that I brought over from Malaysia to buy loose tea leaves there. When I was filling up the food, a kind, friendly grandma approached me and showed me how she always buys food with her own glass jars!

She told me that people here have no problem when customers using their own containers, just go to the counter behind, they will weight your container, put a mark on it. Then you are really to shop anything you want! At the check out counter, cashier will deduct the weigh from total price!

Here is my zero waste shopping experience at Kiva Supermarket!

Yes! The people in Eugene really friendly and nice! There are compost bins everywhere in this small town, collecting food scraps from households and businesses. They have bike share system, encouraging people to ride instead of drive. They have strong organic community, you can buy package less, locally grown organic food every where!

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Compost bins are everywhere, even the hotel we staying in collects food scraps for composting. Almost half of our daily trash is compostable, if we take serious actions like Eugene did, our trash problem could be eased. 

Before I came to US, there were so many people told me about how beautiful this place is. Now I agree with them, because I feel like I am now living in a Zero Waste Paradise, living zero waste lifestyle in this town is super easy and affordable! Thanks to the friendly people who always willing to lend their hands to me 🙂

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Talk to organic farmers, support them by buying fresh healthy organic produce, and save the environment by bringing own shopping bags. The world won’t be saved by someone else, it has to start from yourself. 

So much interesting and unique things happened in the past one week, one blog is just not enough to cover them all! Hope that I could have more time to write them down and blog more in the next few weeks!

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Thank you for reading!

 

 

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