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Real People: Minding our trash with Catarina Matos
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Real People: Minding our trash with Catarina Matos

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Why mind the trash?

They say 3% of the population is starting to grow their consciousness and are actually doing something to change from a global unsustainable lifestyle. Catarina Matos is part of this 3%. And this is a much better start than you could imagine. They say we need 6% of the population to change the world, once that percentage is set the others will follow. Still a long way to go, but after this article maybe you can join this clan.

Catarina started this interview by stating that: «Today more and more people live disconnected with themselves and nature. People live in a world of technology, rush and competition. A world in which we are motivated to excel only in our careers». She reinforced that we are forgetting about ourselves, «In my opinion, we forgot about happiness, we forgot how to enjoy the small things, how to live connected with ourselves and with what is around us».

Fair Bazaar has a clear purpose on this matter. Their mission is to help people to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. Through this campaign they aim to inspire their community by telling the story of various people with different backgrounds that share the same philosophy. Catarina is one of this inspiring people.

The Zero Waste path

Catarina is a big name in the Portuguese Zero Waste movement. According to the Zero Waste International Alliance, this stands for the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of all products, packaging, and materials, without burning them, and without discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health. Zero Waste provides guiding principles for continually working towards eliminating wastes. It is a system approach that aims for a massive change in the way materials flow through society. An idea we all must start working on.

Waste Zero isn’t just another movement. It is a way of life. It is a statement. According to World Bank researchers, the world generates at least 3.5 million tons of plastic and other solid waste a day. Yet, the good news are that the number of people is increasing - often young millennial women - who are taking responsibility and choosing the zero-waste path. Their yearly trash output can be small enough to fit inside a medium jar. Don't believe? Just change your perspective because it’s possible and true.

After living some years in London, being inspired by the city ahead of time and full of energy, Catarina learned, grew and developed her entrepreneur qualities. As so, she decided to build her own company and created Mind the Trash, an online shop that sells organic and sustainable products, and much more.

Mind the Trash is an on-line platform for good and educative information. «Mind The Trash is not just an online store that sells sustainable products. We work really hard to be as zero waste as possible in our office and storage and want our store to feel almost like a physical store, where people know us and know how we work».

Catarina takes every step of her on-line shop to express this concept: «Mind The Trash stands for a relaxed working environment and fights for transparency, fair-trade market, honesty, social and financial sustainability».

In the millennium era, entrepreneurs see their companies as part of the solution. Being an “Eco Warrior” stands for being authentic in every single step we take.

Catarina Matos embraces with her heart the modern minimalist lifestyle. She says it saves her money and time and enriches her life. «I believe that a lot has to change in our society. Starting with shifting the idea that consumerism is a key to achieving happiness. Bigger house, bigger car, better clothes, a lot of money...but none of that matters if we are not in peace with ourselves. Fortunately, this is slowly changing. Sometimes people ask me what I think about success. For me, is not having a lot of money or sell a lot. For me, success resumes to one word: happiness».

When and how it all started

Catarina always had a concern about the environment. She is one of those 3%. «I remember thinking about my environmental footprint when I was still studying architecture. I used to go to the supermarket with my mom and questioning about all the disposable materials used».

In the world of the processed food and packaging, some like Catarina ask: «So much disposable plastic just didn't make any sense to me. Why dispose something that I didn't give any use?».

«Soon I started to avoid plastics and shop for fruits and vegetables at the local market. I also bought a trolley to avoid plastic bags». This gesture was seen at first as something for the oldies yet this young girl just did it despite the judgments. It was also much more practical as all the shopping would fit without having to resort to unnecessary bags.

When she moved to London she faced the plastic nightmare. «I will never forget my first visit to a supermarket in London. I was so shocked! It was the apocalypse of disposables. Everything was wrapped in plastic: bananas, grapes, oranges, pineapples, cucumbers», remembers Catarina.

Being in a city as London she didn't quit and it was when everything changed. «I struggled for a while to find solutions near my house and I found much more than I could have ever asked for! A lot of plastic-free solutions for my day-to-day life: reusable and natural dish brush, solid shampoo, menstrual cup, and so much more! London was definitely my wake-up call!», she recalls with a smile in her face.

She began to gather so much information that she decided to create an Instagram account, which she named Mind the Trash and where she shared tips to avoid waste and published some of her cosmetic recipes. «I created Mind The Trash as an Instagram account to share what I was discovering and changing in my life». The news from London were well received in Lisbon. «Every time I was coming to Portugal to visit my family and friends, I noticed that none of the products I was using were being sold there and no one seemed to know about their existence». The base idea was simple: selling what Catarina was basically already incorporating in her daily life. Today this idea has grown and reached a community on Instagram of 27k and counting.

The lifestyle outside the website

Catarina follows this path with determination and dedication. As her spiritual practice, her daily contribution for her healing and the planet's: «It would not make any sense to me having Mind The Trash if I would not follow what it stands for».

Her days are filled with inspiring steps: «My day starts by thanking for the life I have and cuddling my dogs. After, it is time for a zero waste bathroom routine: shower with a solid shampoo and soap, zero waste toothpaste and bamboo toothbrush. Organic and natural deodorant and creams without plastic packaging are part of my daily routine too. For my meals I always avoid packed ingredients so I go a lot to the local market or to bulk stores to get what I need to cook». It fells authentic, clear and clean. «Basically my daily practice always focuses on one question: “Do I really need this?”».

Less is more

What is Catarina’s vision? «A sustainable world, where we live closer to nature, with no human or animal suffering and exploitation». A change of the patterns and the programs in an open world. «Don’t criticize, appreciate. Don’t judge, educate».

Blogpost written by Filipa Veiga Editor and Yoga teacher

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