Here at Pacific Roots we are excited to launch, keeping in mind the intention that this site was founded with- a spirit of education and advocacy. Learning more about tips and routines to reduce wasteful behavior has been on our minds including a commitment to learning more about Zero-Waste and Low-Impact lifestyle. It can sound off putting and nearly like an ultimatum – ‘Zero-Waste’- but anyone familiar with the movement knows that it is a gradual process, not a state of perfection. So we are excited to share, on a continuous basis, features and interviews with Zero-Waste bloggers, researchers and businesses helping consumers to make the shift to less wasteful habits and lifestyle.
Aalborg, Denmark based Gittemarie Uggerhøj Johansen of Gittemary.com made the decision in 2015 to switch out impulse buys, fashion week and must-haves for a zero-waste and plastic-free lifestyle. She now uses her platforms to create inspiration, recipes and guides on how to get started reducing trash and finding non-materialistic values as well as hosts lectures, classes and workshops about zero-waste and low-impact lifestyles.
“I have seen several different takes on zero-waste, which is a good thing. It is practically impossible to create a “one size fits all” when it comes to movements like this, because the opportunities differ so much from city to city, from region to region and from country to country. I love to see how communities close to the ocean have a large focus towards ocean pollution, whereas rural areas often tend to the biodiversity of inland areas like lakes and forests.” -Gittemarie
Interview with Gittemarie Johansen
In your perspective, what are some of the primary challenges to Zero-Waste and Low-Impact living?
Gittemarie: The habits of convenience I think. It was the notion that drives most innovation because we put the convenience of the consumers before the environment. In very few cases rightfully so, but in everyday life we should do more to avoid convenience products, because they usually mean lots and lots of packaging.
Are you particularly interested in any specific movement or campaign related to Zero-Waste?
Gittemarie: I have been very involved in several campaigns concerning food waste, and I have worked with the Danish company Too Good to Go and the FN’s World Food Programme. I have also worked in several campaigns promoted sustainable and healthy hygiene products for people who menstruate, the menstrual cup has become a core value for me at this point.
Zero-Waste and Low-Impact living can be viewed from many angles including our individual efforts to reduce waste from our household output as well as changes that need to happen more broadly in production and distribution of goods. What are your thoughts on the bigger picture and relationship between individual efforts and those of companies and broader systems?
Gittemarie: I think that the consumers have a lot of power, more power than most people realise and that’s one of the reasons I like the zero-waste movement. It gives the power to the consumers and provides tools to go green. Of course we also need to see actions from the big cooperations, but as we can see, the more consumers are becoming aware, the more companies are changing their ways as well.
What are your must have zero-waste items?
Gittemarie: 1. Travel cutlery, it’s super handy, especially if you’re on the go or travel a lot, it saves you a lot of waste to have a good zero-waste travel kit in general (reusable cutlery, cloth napkin, drinking bottle etc). 2. Hygiene products, like reusable makeup remover cloths, menstrual cups and bamboo toothbrushes.
Do you perceive your city and Denmark more broadly as pretty progressive with Zero-Waste Initiatives?
Gittemarie: No and no, sadly, and I hope to see that changed in the future. We have very limited bulk options in Denmark, and basically none in Aalborg where I live. I think there is a collective understanding that Denmark is very green, when in fact we are falling behind in a lot of areas. However, we have made huge progress doing the last three years and hopefully that will continue.
What ideas and tips would you share for inhabitants of other cities that are not very progressive in terms of Zero-Waste initiatives and community?
Gittemarie: If you do not have access to a bulk store, buying in glass, cardboard and paper is the next best thing. Don’t strive towards perfect but make small changes whenever you can, and you’ll get there eventually. Be on the lookout for local green grocers and farmers market, I find them more frequently outside the bigger cites and a lot of their produce is often without packaging. You can also search for local sustainability groups on social media, they are super helpful for asking questions and learning hacks.
Do you have any tips for moving away from so much plastic use on an individual level?
Gittemarie: Go through your trash and find out what find of actual waste you are producing, it helps a lot when you know exactly what to look for later. Then reflect upon each piece and see if you can find reusable solutions to each plastic item. A lot of the times it requires a little more prep work to be zero-waste, but once you get it under your skin it becomes second nature, trust me.
How does veganism tie into your ethos?
Gittemarie: Perfectly. Zero-Waste made me reflect upon the trash that goes in my bin, but veganism made me think about all the invisible trash of some really bad industries. I think they go perfectly together, because it makes you reflect upon the entire impact of the products we consume and the fact that there are more waste and pollution than what can fit in a mason jar.
Gittemarie’s favorite vegan food places in Denmark: Veggies Heros, Nice Cream, Green Burger, Souls in Copenhagen. Melone in Aarhus. Ubat Veggie in Aalborg
When you travel you often explore zero-waste shops and leaders. Can you share more about what you are seeing around the world in terms of zero-waste initiatives and community.
Gittemarie: I have seen several different takes on zero-waste, which is a good thing. It is practically impossible to create a “one size fits all” when it comes to movements like this, because the opportunities differ so much from city to city, from region to region and from country to country. I love to see how communities close to the ocean have a large focus towards ocean pollution, whereas rural areas often tend to the biodiversity of inland areas like lakes and forests.
Can you share more about your shift in general towards low-impact lifestyle and away from world of up to the moment fashion and impulse buys ?
Gittemarie: It was a very natural shift for me because I felt so thoroughly uncomfortable in the world of fashion for a long time and I just couldn’t figure out why. But I found the zero-waste movement at the best possible time and it gave me the opportunity to pursue something that felt right and good.
Can you tell us more about the lectures, classes and workshops you host?
Gittemarie: I started doing lectures and workshops about a year into my zero-waste journey, and I think that makes it that much more human, that my audience and followers have been able to watch me evolve and learn, while learning with me. For the most part I give talks in Denmark, however I have also worked with international partners and I would gladly travel to other countries to talk as well. Last year I was in Hungary to talk about veganism and sustainability, and I have also given lectures in England.
Visit Gittemarie at Gittemary.com
Feature & Interview by Pacific Roots Magazine Editorial Desk