Family-of-four embrace a zero-waste lifestyle and go weeks without any rubbish – Metro.co.uk

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We can all do our bit when it comes to looking after the environment.

One change that makes a big difference? Reducing the amount of waste we produce.

It sounds challenging, we know, but this family proves that tweaking our behaviours is possible.

Esther Peñarrubia, 41, her partner, and their two children have fully embraced a zero-waste lifestyle, going weeks without throwing away a single bit of rubbish.

Over the past month, the mum has only been forced to chuck a balloon from a party, the backing from a sheet of stickers, an old T-shirt that she had used to clean shoes, and a broken toy.

Everything else has been repurposed and reused, from getting the kids to make crafts from old packaging to drawing on scrap paper, and the family has found alternatives to all single-use items.

The family, who live in Girona, Catalonia, decided to go more minimal when they moved house, and from that day ditched cling film and tin foil and began buying everything they needed in bulk or from second-hand shops.

‘There are already reusable items that we would have to buy once, so it would be a waste of time and money buying the single-use ones,’ said Esther.

‘It’s cheaper and you know that the item will continue being used instead of being set aside – so it’s just perfect!

‘Each of us play a big role in taking care of the environment.

‘It’s enjoyable to try to help rather than just keep complaining about the current situation.

‘Moreover, you don’t take out your rubbish quite so often, because you don’t generate it!’

Any kitchen leftovers go into the compost bin, and glass containers are washed up and repurposed for something else.

This means that the family only send one piece of rubbish to landfill every two weeks on average.

Esther tries not to buy any plastic at all, but when she does, like in the five-litre bottle of olive oil that lasts a few months, it gets thoroughly washed and recycled.

Her five and seven-year-old children know to draw and make crafts from scrap paper packaging, before that too is recycled.

For cleaning products, like washing up liquid and detergent, the mum walks or cycles to a bulk supplier once every two months to buy up to 4kg worth.

She buys fruits, vegetables and bread from local suppliers in bulk on a weekly basis.

The family also grow their own tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli and herbs in the kitchen garden, and have orange and mandarin trees outdoors.

Esther has also found herself in a community of friends who trade items with each other that they need, like furniture or plates, communicating in WhatsApp group chats.

The children have been raised to embrace this approach to waste, starting from the moment they were born, when Esther used reusable cloth nappies instead of disposable ones.

Now, children’s presents are wrapped in reusable cloth rather than paper, plastic toys are a no-go, and if a new possession comes into the house, another goes to another family.

The mum said: ‘They know that if a new toy enters our home, another should go to another family’s house, so we try not to accumulate a lot of stuff.

‘We avoid toys or other material made out of plastic and choose cardboard, wood or metal, instead.

‘We haven’t got a TV at home, so at Christmas time they aren’t exposed to toy adverts on a daily basis.

‘When they ask for a new toy, we explain to them that depending on the material we would think about it, and if it’s plastic they understand that we won’t like it.’

They also tend to organise family activities as gifts, like a cinema trip, or buy them second-hand items.

To help educate her kids, Esther takes them out on nature walks to the forest, where they pick up rubbish as they go.

‘They use their little gloves and enjoy this activity, because they know it’s better for the environment,’ she said.

They also take books out at the library on climate change and plastic that they read all together.

Esther hopes that by sharing her lifestyle, she’ll help to convince other people to join the zero-waste movement.

She’s keen to reassure people that the lifestyle really isn’t as difficult or expensive as they might imagine.

‘If you think and organize your buying habits, consume less things and from better quality, choose reusable alternatives, buy everything you can in bulk and from the second-hand market – then it’s not more expensive and you can save money,’ Esther says.

‘Zero-waste culture doesn’t only comprise of the reduction of our waste, it involves a more conscious lifestyle and way of consumption.

‘There are plenty of local enterprises that produce under more sustainable, ethical and social criteria.

‘Think and get informed about who, how and where your food, clothes and other items have been produced.’

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