The Zero Waste Challenge in KR: Possible?

A video screenshot of a woman’s four years’ worth of trash fit into a mason jar.

I recently came across a video on the internet of how one woman managed to fit four years’ worth of trash into one tiny mason jar. This led me to wonder, is it possible to do the same in hall? For a day at least.

I had to find out.

1030hrs

I get out of bed, ready for my 12pm class. Before heading out, I sat down for some breakfast.

Today’s breakfast.

I decided to swap out my usual routine of purchasing assorted bread in plastic bags for having oats with fruits instead. I also made my own tea in a reusable mug to bring to class instead of purchasing a cup of tea from the canteen.

Before I left, I grabbed a container (thanks OHS for providing us with containers) to take away lunch, and my own water bottle with a metal straw -- the hallmark of eco-friendliness of our generation.

So far so good.

1315hrs

As lunch time approaches and with no other classes ahead of me for the day, I decided to get lunch. I whipped out my container and got in line.

Reusable containers for taking away food that rewards you with stickers.

As almost perpetually broke university students, every cent counts. With Project Box, for every five times you bring your own container, you get $2 off the next purchase. The best part is that this is applicable to all food stalls on campus, so fret not about having to patronise a particular vendor to collect these stickers.

1345hrs

Before heading back to hall, I dropped by the supermarket to purchase some groceries. Grocery shopping was a bit more challenging as most supermarkets still sell their products in packages instead of as loose items, making it a little tough to pick an option that produces lesser waste.

Bananas at the supermarket that came with and without plastic wrappers.

At the fruits section, there were some bunches of bananas that were in wrapped in plastic and some without. Albeit the pricier option, I picked the ones without the plastic packaging.

As the checkout staff was about to bag my items, I refused and stuffed my buy into my bag. I had intentionally swapped my usual small tote bag for school with a bigger one as I had planned this visit to the supermarket. Before I could refuse, she printed a receipt of my buy.

First trash of the day.

1600hrs

Some mid-day snacks.

Feeling snacky, I grabbed a banana and a small box of raisins. Inevitably, I produced two trash items.

End of the day

Trash I have collected through the day.

As the end of the day draws near, I revisited the trash I’ve produced. I wonder if it is even possible to fit years of trash into a mason jar, let alone go a day without producing any trash. For sure, I have failed the zero-waste challenge. But no doubt, I reduced the amount of trash I produced today than any other day. How possible is it to keep up with this zero (or close to) waste life? Producing lesser waste is a conscious effort with a considerable amount of planning and purchasing of plastic free items like grocery bags and reusable mugs. Sometimes the eco-friendlier option might also be the pricier one.

Perhaps it is not about making drastic changes in our lives to produce a fully waste free life. Maybe it is about taking small steps within our capacity to change our habits and lifestyle to reduce the amount of waste we produce. Switch your disposable coffee cups for reusable mugs or bring your containers and refuse plastic utensils when taking away. Encourage the ones around you to do the same. If you fail to remember anything amidst all the hype of eco-friendliness, just remember the three ‘R’s we know so well: reuse, reduce and recycle.

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Kent Ridge Hall Reporters 2019