Towards a circular economy in the V4 Workspace
Hey all! This is Sue, Jess, Tirsa, Istvan, & Louis from Precious Plastic V4. The team have been working on some cool zero-waste initiatives at the new workspace 💪 As most of you know, there will be 40-ish of us working on Version 4 in the coming months. The reality of this is that the amount of trash that we produce could potentially be larger than we first expected. Buuuuut… that’s not how we roll, so here’s what we’re doing about it:
First of all, we identified the main source of our trash. Defined as:
– Kitchen scraps
– Cleaning products
– Food packaging (especially beer, chocolate, milk and bread)
Here are some of the initiatives that we implemented so far (more to come!)
(1) Bulk buy 🍚
In advance of starting the new version, food supply was one of our main concerns to tackle. Instead of buying consumables in normal single use packaging, we choose to bulk-buy most of our supplies; such as dry food, bulk oil, and spices etc. Not only does this reduce the waste on individual small packaging, but we are also able to save on costs when we buy in larger quantities *Important when you know that you have to feed 40 people in the team!* We also try our best to support organic & local producers as much as possible.
(2) Farmers produce 🍆
As mentioned, we try our best to search for local producers (ideally organic too). Supporting local produce helps reducing our carbon footprint compared getting imported produce from other countries. It’s quite a challenge for us to search for local farmers here as the choices are quite limited from one producer. Thus, we are getting our produce from different farmers, and sometimes at the weekend market in Helmond. Meanwhile, we are still searching for more local farmers around Eindhoven. Comment down below if you know any potential ones around here 😉
(3) Plant based diet 🍃
For Version 4 we decided to vegan-ise our kitchen! This, we would say is 95% of the time. Occasionally, some the team likes to treat themselves to some cheese or chocolate etc. For the most part, and for every meal that we share made by our amazing vegan chefs (who make eating a plant-based diet very easy 😜), it’s all vegan. Eating a plant-based diet means that we can reduce our carbon footprint efficiently, as avoiding meat and dairy is the biggest way to reduce your impact. Animal farming takes up more than 80% of all farmland but only gives 18% of the calories we consume *Oxford figures, not ours!* Crazy stuff, right?
(4) Worm compost 🐛
For the first few weeks, we placed our kitchen scrap on our small-scale rooftop compost. Knowing that it’s a temporary solution, we got our first batch of new family members here in the workspace and welcomed 2kg(ish) of compost worms. From scratch, we built a typical vertical stacked worm bin, with recycled wood that we already had at the workspace, and plastic sheets beautifully made by our PP sheet press. We will definitely talk about our worm bins in more detail. As always, open source spirit!
(5) Waste segregation area 🗑️
Our man, Istvan, has been helping to set up a waste segregation area at both the main working area (where our engineers and designer are), and the dining area. We try to reduce our waste as much as possible by setting up an area for segregating our potential waste into different categories. We are able to identify the source of trash, for instance; bread packaging and chocolate wrappers (yes… we create a fair amount of them). We are looking forward to evaluating and monitoring our weekly trash, to see where we can find new solutions.
(6) Bring your own BAG reminder 🛍️
Sometimes, as life goes, we just forget to bring our own reusable bag for grocery shopping or for the metal scrapyard when hunting down some materials. We have now set up a reminder board at the entrance of our workspace with hanging bags to make this an easy fix!
(7) Milk 🌰
Yegor & Akos, our vegan chefs, have started experimenting with making home-made, plant-based milks for the team. We were quickly tired of seeing tetra-packs making their way into our trash, and this seemed like a simple (and tasty) solution! We have plenty of oats from our bulk purchase of dry foods, so this has been the main ingredient so far, but we will be soon looking at rice milk and also using some fresh walnuts that we have been picking ourselves.
(8) Second hand 🛏️
For the workspace, we have bought most of the furniture and tools second hand. Instead of buying new, we indulge ourselves with things already in the waste cycle. For the first few weeks, our team have been travelling on and off to second hand stores in the area to stock up on some essentials. We also bought our sleeping mattresses second hand for the team. Doing this, we have managed to save on the overall cost of these items, and have avoided creating more demand for the production of these things! #buynothingnew
(9) Coffee ☕
We love coffee. The result of this truth, is that we started to accumulate coffee packaging quickly, and couldn’t imagine how fast we would be getting through these packages when we are a team of 40+ in the coming months. We are lucky to have found a company nearby the workspace, supported by volunteers, who are working to roast fair trade & sustainable coffee. It’s so inspiring to understand their business model, how they source their coffee beans in a sustainable way, and also support local people with disabilities by offering opportunities to work in the roastery and in their bakery. We will be buying our coffee straight from them, and visiting their premise to pick up freshly ground coffee every week, in reusable jars that we picked up at the second-hand store. That’s our kind of caffeine fix!
Meanwhile, there are more initiatives coming soon, as new potential trash might be appearing from somewhere.
Planned for the future (We mean SOON!):
(1) Beer tap 🍻
Though we purchase our beer in glass packaging which comes in crates, it still requires energy and resources to recycle them. Thus we have been in contact with a company to set up a beer tap at our tropical bar 😉 This should save on a lot of glass waste, and that annoying little piece of plastic which comes inside the cap! We will definitely update with some footage once everything goes smoothly.
(2) Bread bags 🍞
Bread packaging is another main source of our trash. Most of them are packaged in mix paper with a thin lining of transparent plastic. Thus, we are looking forward to sewing a few drawstring bags made of second-hand cloth, to get daily fresh bread from a local bakery in the next few weeks.
(3) Zero waste pop-up shop (for the Army) 🏪
We will set up a small zero waste pop-up for the team here to be able to refill their personal care products. For instance, refillable dental tooth tabs (without packaging) and laundry powder. We are really excited to use this project to inspire the team here to pursue a sustainable lifestyle across lots of necessary products. Sustainability starts from our daily habits!
(4) All-purpose cleaner 🍊
We plan to make our own all-purpose natural cleaner by using simple basic ingredients such as white vinegar and water, with the help of citrus peels. By doing this we reduce the cost that would occur when purchasing natural cleaners available to buy, and we also find a way to use some of the bio waste (such as orange peel) that our compost worms do not like to eat. This will make an effective cleaner for our kitchen and workspace area.
That’s all for now, guys! Let us know if you have any ideas for further projects that we can get working on, to minimise the impact of the V4 army 😀