This year, Saku vald, Humana Estonia and Lääne-Harju vald are making Estonia a better place during the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) with a focus on packaging.
Saku’s shopping bag tree project has been active in the municipality for the past few years, and during EWWR they are holding workshops to produce new shopping bags and launching a new and improved version of the tree at the local Selver store. This is a simple, innovative solution to address the fabric bags so often given away as environmentally friendly souvenirs that accumulate in households over time.
According to Saku’s estimates, a single use plastic bag has the same environmental impact as using a fabric bag 840 times, but only one or two of those souvenir fabric bags see regular use. They fail to serve their purpose and therefore actually have a negative impact on the environment. Bag trees are placed in stores for shoppers who forget their own reusable bags and would otherwise have to purchase a disposable one. People can also leave unused bags for others, so they don’t just pile up around the house.
The Women’s Voluntary Defence Organisation in Saku is also continuing their work to make shade nets for Ukraine in evening workshops this week. Read more about the ongoing initiative in this article from 2022.
In Lääne-Harju, the school Paldiski Ühisgümnaasium has taken the initiative to teach students in grades 1-4 about waste separation through lessons, videos, discussions and a game. This skill is important to learn at a young age in order to adopt good life-long habits and to be more aware of the waste we create. In many European municipalities, paper, plastic, and glass are already collected separately, and organics such as food and garden waste and textiles are a big focus in forthcoming updates to the European Waste Framework Directive.
This is because these waste streams have a significant negative environmental impact. Teaching kids about waste separation is a great way to support their development as citizens and make the world a better place.
Humana Estonia is running a campaign during EWWR about human packaging, otherwise known as clothes! This clever spin on packaging comes with some interesting new posts on their website which give insights into the 15 million kg of textiles Estonians have saved from landfill or incineration together with Humana since 2006. There is also a good piece on collection container Top 5s that highlights newly designed bins, secret locations and biggest collectors. (Tip: Use a plug-in such as Google Translate for quick language translation directly on the webpage.)
Reducing waste isn’t just for EWWR, it’s something to embrace every day. Here are a few quick tips inspired by our Estonian colleagues that you can use year-round:
Put reusable shopping bags near the door or in the car to always have them at hand.
Teach your kids (or the kids in your life) about recycling and how to use separate collection bins in the right way.
No matter where you take your clothes for reuse and recycling, always make sure they are clean and dry. If you take them to a collection container, put them in a sealed bag to prevent them from getting dirty or wet.