We wanted to go on holidays, somewhere hot and sunny. From Ireland Mallorca seemed a good choice, as it is not too far by plane and the weather is really really nice.
We chose a place called Agroturismo Can Patro, which was perfectly quiet and hidden away from the busy touristy spots. This place is near to a town called Manacor, which is the second largest after the capital, Palma.
(And of course many sceptics would tell me that flying is not eco friendly at all, and I do know that, but let’s be realistic we are not going to stay in Ireland all the time just because it’s not eco friendly.)
What we really liked about Can Patro that there was no air-con in the apartment, nor there was towel changing and cleaning. It is fine to use the same towel for a week and I had no problem using a brush that was provided a few times while we were there. Can Patro is a working farm, we were able to go and see the horses and the chickens in the evenings as a part of our walk along the olive trees. We could take eggs from the chickens and herbs from the garden. Idyllic.
Before we left I was quite busy organising myself to be able to produce as little waste as possible on the holiday.
My first and biggest dilemma was about the cloth nappies. Should I bring them? Will there be a place to wash them? Would the owner/other guest mind me washing nappies in a communal washing machine?
After researching all my option, I decided to go with Flip wraps and disposable inserts. I have had 4 wraps already, so I just needed 2-3 more. The 6 wraps were perfectly enough and handwashing the wraps was no big deal at all. I packed a small jar of coconut oil, one package of disposable wipes that I have left from pre-zero waste and two reusable swim nappies.
I have also prepared things that we needed for every day like dishcloth, washing up liquid, salt, pepper, oils, kitchen towel, knife. I used tiny jars for the oil, pepper, salt etc… They didn’t add much weight to my suitcase, but it meant we didn’t have to buy a sponge, washing up liquid or paper towel. (I didn’t know how much of these stuff would be provided. I was glad that we had them, because there were only a few kitchen towels and non recyclable spongy cloth )
I have also researched the options for shopping food. I saw that there was a market in Manacor and a few supermarkets. I have packed 3 cloth bags and several small produce bags. We have packed a few sandwiches, cakes, fruits for the road because most of the shops were closed on Sunday, on the day when we arrived. I packed all those in plastic containers and secretly hoped that we would be able to use them for shopping.
On the second day we went to the market. It was smallish market but with everything you need: fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese, nuts, beans etc… So we stocked up on fruit and veg, bought some cured meat, and two kinds of cheese. No opposition to my cloth bags or own container whatsoever. Happy days.
Close to the market there was a supermarket, Mercadona. I was not really impressed with it at all. We bought a few things like beer, yoghurt, butter, pasta in cardboard box (no plastic window), bread rolls. I was not impressed, because I put my bread rolls in my cloth bag and the cashier said that they needed to be weighted or something and ran off with them. He came back with a smile and the rolls in a plastic bag with a sticker on it. Ah, well.
At the edge of the town there was another huge supermarket. Hiper-centro. I loved that place. I was able to buy fruit juice in glass bottles, bread in cloth bag and there was a small ‘dry goods dispenser corner’. And of course I had to try it! So I put some toasted almonds into my cloth bag, and there I went to the cashier. He didn’t not say a word. Yesss!!
We also found a little shop beside the market and it had all sort of things without packaging. From tea, coffee to dried fruit, chocolate, herbs and spices etc… It was a great little shop, but we did not buy anything as we did not need anything from it at the time. Next door to this shop was a halal shop and I found loose popcorn there. I had to buy a bag full. Now we are well stocked with popcorn for a good while.
We asked the landlady about bins and composting. She said there were no compost bins on the premises, in fact there were no bins at all. You have to bring all your rubbish to a nearby car park where there were 5 huge bins. Two for general waste, one for paper, one for glass and one for packaging materials (like tetra-pack and plastic). But no compost bins. I was a bit disappointed but, sure you can only do your best.
However, on the second evening we went to a nearby beach, and as we were walking by the showers and toilets there were three bins. One of them was for organic waste. We really like the beach and decided to come back. So from then on I was collecting the organic materials separately in case we went back there. And we did once more. So it’s not much but still two days worth of organic waste diverted from landfill.
Another question was water. Before we started zero waste we just bought bottled water when on holiday. We asked the owner and she said the water was fine to drink, but I was still a bit worried and because we were also giving it to Little M, I decided to boil it. It needed a bit of thinking but usually I boiled the kettle, let it cool down and then poured the water into one of our water bottle and that went into the fridge. We had two big bottles with us, so we were rotating those. later when I found juice in glass bottles, I reused the bottles to make homemade minty lemonade. (Herbs were growing in containers all over the premises)
During the holiday we did not buy any souvenir kind of things. We have been decluttering for a good few month, so very conscious about unnecessary things. Before we left I got some second hand beach toys for Little M, so that we don’t get tempted to buy a few new ones over there.
All this preparation and thinking had resulted in very minimal rubbish that we created. I am proud of our efforts and very happy that it was possible and we didn’t have to give up much on our zero waste commitments.
And just in terms of how much is the very minimal, here is a list of landfill rubbish we produced (that I can recall)
- 2 packages of nappy inserts (36)
- handful of disposable wipes (we mostly used toilet paper and the traditional method of soap and water)
- packaging of toasted flavoured almonds
- luggage stickers
- 1 ice cream cup and plastic spoon (we usually ate ice cream in a cone, but this was at the airport)
- about 5 days worth of organic waste (fruit stones and pips, veg peelings, chicken bones etc)
- one leaf of paracetamol. I forgot to bring painkillers with me, so we had to buy the over the counter packaged one.
- mosquito repellent tablet kinda things and their packaging. I hate mosquitos, but they love me…
- plastic bag of the bread rolls
- plastic bag of some meat we bought
And there were some recyclable waste products that we were able to put in the recycle bins like paper, glass beer and juice bottles, and three plastic cups from frozen yoghurt and the big yoghurt bucket.
I hope that this insight to our reduced waste holiday gives you some tips on how to prepare for a summer holiday in “zero waste style”.