Who are you, how old are you and where do you live?

-My name is Anastasija Belević, I’m 17 y.o. and I live in Podgorica, Montenegro.

When and how have heard for the first time of the concept of Zero Waste and/or Circular Economy?

-I can’t remember when and where exactly I heard about the zero waste movement for the 1st time, but I know that one of my first encounters with it was when a friend of mine from school told me about this girl named Lauren Singer and her Trash Is For Tossers page, and how all of her 5-year-old trash could fit in one mason jar. I found that really cool, and I went on her page and found it very interesting and unusual (in a good way of course).

What does Zero Waste and/or Circular Economy mean to you concretely?

-Right now, it means a lot to me and I am always trying my best to minimalize the waste I make and I want to inspire others to do the same because time is running out and the planet needs to get repaired.

What did motivate you to take action and start reducing your waste production and what was your first step?

-For quite a long time I haven’t given it much thought even though I was following certain pages on social media and was finding out about new zero waste stuff all the time, along with the catastrophic impact human waste has on the planet, and I always thought that someone should do something about it, but wasn’t realising that I was that someone. What woke me up was the time I went vegan. I realised that those 2 movements often come hand in hand mostly because veganism also has environmental segments because animal agriculture plays the main role in ocean dead zones, rainforest destruction, air, water and soil pollution and that’s just to name a few. Anyways, I decided to simply swap some of my everyday products for reusable ones and just by doing that make a small but impactful change. So one of my first steps towards a more waste-free lifestyle was ditching plastic bags used for school lunches. Then I bought a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush and a travel container for it and after that a reusable metal bottle. Right now I’m working on waste-free cosmetics and I have been buying this amazing company which sells their cosmetics in bottles made from recycled plastic (it’s also cruelty-free, vegan, SLS, paraben and silicone free)

How easy is it to become a Zero Waster in (your city name)? What is the easiest thing to do and the most difficult?

-Following a zero-waste lifestyle is not the most practicable thing to do in Podgorica, or Montenegro in general (even though officially we are the 1st ecological country in the world), but with good motivation, you can almost always find a solution.
Well, the easiest thing for me was to give up plastic toothbrushes. They are not too expensive, come in a few colours and are not something you buy every day, like plastic bags for example, which, at least for me, are one of the most difficult things to ditch.

What would you like to say to every Montenegrin citizen, producer and government regarding this issue?

-The choices we make every day are the things making history. And when you grow old, and your grandchildren ask you which side of history were you on, do you want to be a part of the solution or a part of the problem?

I made a photo of my favourite Zero Waste alternatives: my Nordics bamboo toothbrushes toothbrush container and toothpaste with active charcoal and mint (all bought at Cosmetics), a reusable plastic food container bought at ‘The House of Plastic’ in the centre of the town behind the Town Square (it is plastic, but I use it all the time and make sure it lasts me a very long time!). Then I have my Seville reusable coffee cup (was a gift from cousins when they went to Spain, but these can now be purchased at many bookstores as well). And finally my personal favourite which I carry around everywhere I go, is the reusable metal bottle bought at Vicko in Mall of Montenegro, this one has 350 ml and leaves your drink cold or hot for a number of hours, but there are bigger models as well.