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FacultyA beginner’s guide to going zero waste

In 2018, Tanja Florenthal (Dean of César Ritz Colleges Switzerland) and her family of four undertook the feat of reducing their waste. They succeeded in only using three or four garbage bags throughout the whole year! Here is a flashback to her experience which proved to be rewarding, fun, and surprisingly easy!

So it turns out the average Swiss person creates over 700 kilos of waste per year – which is more than most people around the world! We know that waste has a negative impact on the environment, but did you know it’s also very expensive?

While it might be hard to believe, we have saved about 20% of our budget by working towards a zero waste lifestyle. This is because we avoid grocery stores, avoid shopping malls altogether and instead buy local. This practice reduced our consumption which in turn reduced our cost. We still spend our money, but instead we buy experiences and not material.

The first step we took was to question every piece of trash we created and how we could avoid it.

Plastic from salad wrapping? Instead buy the salad directly from the farmer. Plastic bottle from shampoo? Use a solid shampoo bar.

Here are a few easy first steps to help you already reduce your trash without much energy.

  • Refuse all plastic bags. Even at the pharmacy or in H&M. Use reusable bags, even for vegetables in the grocery store. Cloth shopping bags are great – as long as you’ve got them with you when you need them!
  • Buy your food at the local market or directly from the farmer.
Zero waste by Tanja Florenthal Academic Director for the César Ritz Colleges Switzerland le Bouveret


  • Always carry a reusable water bottle in your bag and refuse plastic cups.
  • Use a soap bar, not liquid soap.
  • Avoid plastic plates and cutlery.
  • Try to buy products that are wrapped in recyclable wrappings. For example cardboard boxes, glass bottles, metal cans and recyclable milk bottles.


Feel like taking it further? Once you have adopted an eye for avoiding excessive plastic, you can:

  • Use a bamboo toothbrush and solid shampoo. Lots of brands sell them online.
  • Use matches instead of plastic lighters.
  • Use a towel instead of buying kitchen paper towels.
  • Buy laundry detergent in boxes, not liquid in plastic containers.
  • Stop using store bought deodorant. Baking soda works just fine.
  • Plan your meals and reduce your food waste.
Zero waste by Tanja Florenthal Academic Director for the César Ritz Colleges Switzerland le Bouveret


  • Compost.
  • Find enjoyment in making things yourself: Yogurts, jams, bread, cookies and granola.

Final Tip: You can even make your own dishwasher tablets and cleaning products


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