We live in strange times. While Greta Thunberg with her climate activism has become a children’s icon and idol, we are on the high speed train towards a much warmer climate. Irrespective of all the articles on climate change, we have a little clue on how to save the nature and reduce our consumption.
To raise awareness about the relation between climate and waste, VIVISTOP Telliskivi arranged a workshop about the zero-waste lifestyle. We invited two experts to share their knowledge and practical tips on the topic.
Our first guest was master chef Peeter Pihel from Fotografiska Tallinn, who shared his learnings from over the years of working as a chef in various kitchens. He also introduces how Fotografiska Tallinn minimises waste at its restaurant and cafeteria. They follow one important principle — in the kitchen, everything from root to bloom and nose to tail, finds its place on the plate. Even food leftovers are decomposed with their famous pet — The Composter, and the compost is used to grow herbs and prepare dishes. Various packages are also upgraded for serving food — bottoms of empty wine bottles are used as serving dishes for butter. In collaboration with design students from the Estonian Academy of Arts, different new materials were created — for example by mixing coffee grounds to styrofoam a new solid material was created that was used to make new tag holders for the restaurant.
Peeter had prepared an experiment to demonstrate his philosophy and principles. The purpose of the experiment was to show what happens with a bioplastic coffee cup in the composter. While bioplastic in public debate is considered a biodegradable material, then in fact — it will only start decomposing after dozen of year. For comparison, the food leftovers compose into fertiliser within a single day. Hence, even with materials that we consider biodegradable, we would need to take into account the time it takes for them to dissolve.
“I try to find solutions by asking questions. This helps me keep focus and stay on the sustainability track — plus of course consume less myself” — Peeter Pihel, master chef at Fotografiska Tallinn.
Peeter Pihel recommends to ask the following questions:
- Are my decisions based on sustainable principles?
- Are all my actions in the kitchen/life done in the most sustainable way?
- Do my decisions and actions have a long-term impact and what is it?
- Can I be satisfied (as a person)/profitable(as a company) and sustainable at the same time?
- Do I use sustainable principles in my everyday life decisions and actions?
Plastic pollution as a problem is already yesterday’s news, but yet that hasn’t made us change our daily habits.
What to do?
For example, you can use beeswax food wrap as an alternative to the classical plastic wrap. This waxed textile is ideal for carrying an apple or sandwich in a bag. With this spirit in mind we started crafting together with the children. Our greatest supporters in this pursuit were the busy bees living on the rooftop of Fotografiska Tallinn’s restaurant, who’s beeswax we were using for the wraps. Seeing the wax in a fluid form made all the children excited. We saw their big eyes while saying — “It’s like honey!”.
To make a food wrap you don’t need a master’s degree, you can easily try it at home. All you need is a piece of textile, beeswax pellets, an iron, and baking paper. NB: pay attention to the amount of beeswax you use, if you put too much, it may flow out. Don’t be afraid to fail — experiment to find the right amount.
Our second guest was a high school student, entrepreneur, and climate activist Kertu Birgit Anton, who introduced us her everyday zero-waste lifestyle. Kertu is one of the leaders of weekly climate strikes in Tallinn and has co-founded a sustainable brand SISU kott with her friends. They create sustainable reusable cotton bags for fruits, vegetables and dry ingredients. The material used for the bags is recycled.
Kertu has been recycling ever since she was small and reducing her ecological footprint is one of her primary goals. She is happy to share this knowledge with the winder public. This has made Kertu one of the main spokespersons of the zero-waste lifestyle in Estonia.
“For me, it is obvious that everything I do affects the environment around me. Every meal, every new piece of clothing, every flight. As we all spend our whole life in the Earth’s atmosphere (even though we live in a city), then it is only natural that we should seriously try to create as little harm to our surroundings as possible. At work, at home, in our private lives and as a society as a whole.” — Kertu Birgit Anton, entrepreneur, and climate activist
Inspired by Kertu’s company we also wanted to show children how plastic bags could be replaced by cloth bags. So we started to sew together our fruit bags. Wendre, a well-known local mattress and bed linen producer, donated to us their leftover fabrics. Children could choose their favourite pattern on fabrics and active sewing could start.
You can try this out at home as well:
All you need is fabric, scissors, ribbon, and a sewing machine. If you do not have a machine at home you can also sew the parts together by hand. For more detailed instructions click here.
Everything starts with an attitude change. You can find practical tips for everyday activities both in this blog post but also on Google. Type a zero-waste lifestyle and start searching for tips! You create your own lifestyle. Surprisingly, the children who participated in the workshop, have promised that from now on they will take their sandwiches to school only in the food wrappers they made themselves. VIVITA wishes to all our members and their parents a cheerful crafting time, thoughtful shopping and snacking at school.
Greatest thanks to our partners: Peeter Pihel for his endless inspiration, Fotografiska Tallinn’s bees for the wax, Kertu Birgit Anton for courage and Wendre for the patterned fabrics. Together we inspire a more conscious tomorrow ❤
Text Eva Liisa Kubinyi and photos Sigrid Kägi/ VIVITA Estonia.