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Eye opener: the waste strikes show us the need for positive change

colorful garbage bins

The strikes of waste collectors that went on in many Dutch cities the past few weeks, confronted us with the large amounts of waste we produce together. What can we learn from this? Mostly, that there is a lot of room for positive change! 

The average Dutch person throws away 500 kilos of waste per year. That’s about the weight of a cow: a lot. According to CBS, 164 kilos is collected as residual waste, 98 kilos as organic waste, 48 kilos as paper waste and 29 kilos as bulky waste. 

Because the Dutch waste management system operates so well, we are rarely confronted with how much that actually is. Because it’s being taken care of for us. Until the strikes. The strikes are an eye-opener to the amount of resources (and mainly packages) we use every single day. 

The good news? We can all make a difference! 

We buy lots of single use packaging 

You go to the supermarket, you put a croissant in a small plastic bag, you walk out of the supermarket, and you throw away the plastic bag. Most things we buy in the supermarket come in paper or plastic packaging that’s used once and then thrown out. 

The same goes for the plastic containers and boxes that are used for our take-away food. But also think of fast fashion we use a few times and then throw out. 

All these materials have to be sourced, produced, transported, and then treated after their end-of-life. This requires energy, materials, water, and land. And that has an impact. 

Luckily, reducing this impact is easier than you might think! 

How do we fight waste?

But there’s a lot you can do! Even small steps can make a difference. 

We can reduce the amount of resources we use – and therefore the amount of waste we produce – by:

  • Reducing
  • Reusing
  • Recycling

Reduce what you buy, reuse (and repair) what you already have, recycle what you don’t need anymore. 

Reducing – for example – means not taking that plastic bag for your croissant, reducing your single-use plastics and paper use, bringing your own containers to the take-away and opting for that timeless pair of jeans rather than a pair that needs replacement every season. And have you found a supermarket in your neighborhood yet that minimizes packaging use? 

Reusing – for example – means having your battery replaced rather than buying a new phone, buying and selling second-hand fashion, reuse those plastic take-away containers or the plastic bag you bought when you forgot to bring your reusable one. 

Recycling means handling your waste in the proper manner at the end of the lifespan of your products. 

hello energy organizes monthly sustainability challenges that teach you – in a fun and engaging way – how to adopt new behaviors and that way, improve your positive impact. You perform these challenges together with your building community.

In April, we will focus on fighting waste. For example, by reducing our single use plastics use, trying to go for zero food waste, engaging in building-wide reform, and by increasing our recycle rate. 

Already 30 buildings pledged to join. And you? Are you ready to fight some waste?

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