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yök no plastic bags fruit

Zero Waste, let’s embrace the challenge!

Zero Waste is a philosophy quite a few restaurants and other businesses have recently embraced in Barcelona. Its concept is easy: avoid any trash going to landfill or incinerators. For this to put into practise we have to make sure that all our resources get either reused, and at the very end of the lifecycle, recycled or composted. This is easier said than done, especially in a time where we are surrounded by throw-away products. However, with a bit of awareness, creativity and willpower, we believe it is possible to embrace the Zero Waste challenge without sacrificing our lifestyle (too much).

Here are some things we do at yök (and at home) to avoid creating trash.


Filtered tap water

The tap water in Barcelona is safe to drink but doesn’t taste very nice. Most people buy drinking water in plastic bottles, but we installed a inverse osmosis system during our eco-renovation and are very happy with how it works; both practically as well as economically. This saves at least 1L plastic bottle per person per day from being used; imagine the amount of resources (plastic as well as transportation) we preserva. At yök Casa + Cultura we provide filtered tap water in reused glass bottles for free.


Bye bye plastic bags

A small obsession of ours is to avoid plastic bags. We provide guests (and ourselves) with traditional straw baskets they can use for the shopping. We also reuse plastic and paper bags that guests leave behind to take out the trash and recycling. When we buy fruit, vegetables and bread we use reusable clothes bags, and plastic containers when we go and buy tea and other products in bulk.


Buying in bulk

Apart from most of our food, we also buy our detergents in bulk containers. This saves a lot of plastic packaging and is more efficient to transport.


No to throw-away products

Most hotels use throw-away products for the cleaning; anything from clothes to paper towels and mops! We avoid these and use micro fibre clothes as well as rags made from old cotton sheets that we simply wash after each use and line dry in the sun. Instead of sponges, which for hygienic reasons we would have to throw away after each guest leaves, we use a rough, washable clothes guests can use to do the dishes, and a wooden dishwashing brush. Guests can purchase a bamboo toothbrush in case they forgot theirs.


Recycling made easy

If we want to make sure no waste goes to landfill or incinerators, we have to make recycling as easy as possible. All our apartments have recycling bins, and a plastic tupper for the organic waste. This we feed to the worms on our terrace, so that they turn the organic waste into compost for our plants.

yök save water shower together


Correct disposal of trash

Some things are just not recyclable, like batteries or cigarette butts. We encourage guests to hand in any items that are potentially toxic in order for us to dispose of them correctly. All our balconies have ashtrays so that no cigarette butts end up in the street or the toilet, and then later in the sea! (More about the horror of cigarette butts in Barcelona here, in Spanish.)


Food waste, a big no-no

Our worms are very happy to receive organic waste, but, we try to avoid food waste at any cost. We buy all our fruit and vegetables fresh and on demand. If guests leave any food behind, we distribute it amongst the staff.


Zero waste in Barcelona and beyond

Here are some shops that make your life easier if you want to go zero waste yourself, while visiting or living in Barcelona or elsewhere:

Casa Perris, food in bulk since 1940
El Safareig, bulk drugstore with local and eco-friendly products
Yes Future, positive supermarket
Espai Egg, pop-up restaurant and café in the Raval that takes sustainable cooking very seriously
#desnudalafruta, an initiative to sell fruit without packaging
Vivir sin plástico, living without plastic
Zero Waste BCN, food blog (in Catalan)
and stories of Spaniards living the zero waste life via Vice (in Spanish).