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How to fit a year’s worth of waste into a jam jar

waste jar
Otso Sillanaukee holds a jar that contains all the waste he produced in a year.

Zero waste author and blogger, Otso Sillanaukee, managed to fit all the waste he produced in a year into a single jam jar. How did he do it, and how could every one of us do a little more to consume a little less?

Sillanaukee shows a glass jam jar in which he has collected all the mixed waste he produced in a year. The jar contains, for example, pharmaceutical strips, dental flossers, a few yeast bags and a bundle of barcode labels – waste that he was unable to recycle, compost or reuse.

Sillanaukee summarises his lifestyle with a model of five R’s which he also writes about in his guidebook Zero Waste –jäähyväiset jätteille. The model challenges people to refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot. The aim is not to live in scarcity, but to only purchase things that are necessary and as sustainable as possible.

“This jar of waste proves that in today’s world, it’s not possible to lead a completely waste-free life – but we don’t even have to. What’s most important is that we strive to make decisions that reduce our impact.”

Waste and scraps can also be regarded as resources. For example, banana peels can be used for polishing shoes, and it is easy to refresh a stale-smelling fridge with tea bags. According to Sillanaukee, it is important to be creative and to believe that one’s own contribution can genuinely make a change.

“This lifestyle has provided me with peace of mind as it has allowed me to accept the fact that I’m doing everything I can. You may read in the papers that someone claims otherwise, but changing our consumption habits and actively striving for a circular economy actually has a remarkable impact.”

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