Going Zero-Waste in Tartu – Selbi (Turkmenistan)

Photo Credits: Selbi Komekova

DISCLAIMER: this post is not written to make the readers feel guilty for taking away Greta from doing her homework! Or even worse, it is not written to make them feel guilty! This post is based on an experiment I conducted on my habitual behavior, and if (God!) I could at least adjust some of those habits for the sake of my own future…

We’ve all been there. You’re scrolling down your insta feed, and you get to see the footage of fish or mammals dying of plastic consumption, marine wildlife trapped in fishnets, or the turtles suffocating by plastic straws stuck in their noses, etc. Sounds familiar? Well, it does to me.

To help stop these devastating consequences, the modern hippies who call themselves “eco-activists” propose a solution to go zero-waste, which means to avoid buying products with plastic (since it cannot be recycled, only downcycled), compost, and recycle aluminium, glass, and paper. But is it something we can truly accomplish?

Well, I’ve tried to figure that out and try it for myself. Here’s How It Went : )

Photo Credits: usplash

First, I Started Doing Research About It.

I am not going to write about the horrifying trash facts that I’ve found (I will need to use too many citations, sorry!). But to summarize it, it’s bad and most of us know it, hopefully!

Photo Credits: Selbi Komekova

Biodegradable brushes, natural deodorant, shea butter (in glass jar!), DIY (Do It Yourself) reusable pads, DIY natural lipstick, soap and a shampoo bar. 

I started opting for reusable items: reusable bottle, napkins, reusable pads, bags (grocery, produce, snack, tote, etc.), jars (I can’t get enough of these!), wax wraps, etc.

Photo Credits: Selbi Komekova

My dorm pantry still has some plastic in it since I had gotten those things before trying “the movement”.

Second, I Started Buying Products in Bulk.

Biomarket and Valete offer products in bulk. You can buy lentils, penne pasta, gummy bears, beans, rice, quinoa, and so much more in both stores, also, Valete even offers spaghetti in bulk, yum!

When it comes to chemical stuff, they both offer detergents, dish washing and cleaning liquids in bulk. But I have noticed that Valete offers shampoos and even shower gels in bulk as well.

But please don’t forget to tell your cashier to weigh your jar or container first so you wouldn’t have to pay more (I would also advise you to jot down the jars’ weight on them)!

Tartu Turg offers a huge variety of products in bulk including dairy and meat (even smoked meat!) as well; I would especially advise you to buy sauerkraut (fermented cabbage salad), and the greens there, since for some reason they are usually sold packed in supermarkets.

You can also check http://www.maheklubi.ee/ if you want to buy organic food directly from farmers.

Photo Credits: Selbi Komekova

I do not take plastic bags for the fruits/veggies in the supermarkets and I really love the fact you don’t have to! Back in my country, I could even be judged for such behavior, but here it is more comfortable to do so. I especially love that in Rimi, they have scales at the cashier’s desk or the self-service desk so you can even avoid using the bar-coded stickers!

Photo Credits: Valete
ökökaubad Facebook Page

Third. Shopping? Second-hand!

I have really been in love with the thrift stores’ variety in Estonia, I would advise you to check ISA’s facebook post on those as well: https://www.facebook.com/utambassadors/posts/2739248329465295 

My favorites are Humana and Uuskasutuskeskus, but I like to check Võru Varblane and other thrift stores as well. I have found some very nice pieces and for a very cheap price!

For the electrical devices, I check www.okidoki.ee, and some facebook groups. This is how I bought my laptop in August!

Photo Credits: Uuskasutuskeskus Facebook Page

Fourth. Chocolate? Kalev.

Kalev. Has. Bulk. Chocolate.

I may have used their chocolate to balance my stress levels during exams (more than necessary), but it’s my personal favourite. Only thing is that the bulk chocolate might be slightly more expensive, since usually they don’t put discounts on them. But the flavours are so much worth it and you can find vegan options there as well! 

Kalev Shop
Photo Credits: Selbi Komekova

Finally, Some Tips

  1. Do not stress out over this. Understanding the value of voting with money and making baby steps is what counts.
  2. You can reuse the stuff with plastic (containers, glitter, old bags, even bottles if BPA free, etc.) and try to opt for free re usables as well (like carrying kitchen cutlery with you and a jar for food storage on the go) or make your own reusable DIY projects! If you want to make your own bags, Tartu City Library has sewing machines available to the public, just book your time.
  3. Try to compost the food scraps and other compostable stuff, and dont forget to recycle consciously!
  4. You can use Tartu Foodsharing to share the extra food that you have left or to collect some. They also have Foodsharing stands in the city; the addresses are Kivi 75a, and Tähe 29.
  5. You will have some waste in the end, so don’t be fixed on the trash of the year in one jar ideology. Keep it real. Minimizing the waste is the goal, not achieving complete zero-waste in one week. Baby steps, baby.
  6. You don’t have to be a hero and go zero-waste and vegan at the same time, for instance. Take it slow and enjoy the process!
  7. Good luck, enjoy it, and do it for the planet!