For almost 3 years now, I have been really trying to concentrate on reducing my waste production, plastic purchases/use, and buying, eating, and living a healthier lifestyle. Not only for myself, my home, and my body, but also for the planet. In 2016 I posted a small rant/post about how much I hate waste. You can find it HERE. And after noticing that a few of my good friends do not have recycling bins or compost buckets in their home. ( Thanks Annabelle & Lily for the inspiration ) I yet again wanted to write and share my thoughts on this subject, and hopefully convert a few of you towards living this kind of lifestyle. So here it is, 22 easy ways towards a zero waste/ less plastic/waste reducing/ day to day lifestyle. For your home, your workplace, you kids school, your office, etc. etc. etc. I am not telling you to go through your shelves and cupboards and throw away/recycle/donate everything you find that is plastic. I still have a few plastic items in my home that I use and need. But slowly but surely, if you reduce what you DON’T use/need, and make conscious purchases, you will find that you can save a lot of money, have less plastic in your home ( and therefore our oceans ) and produce less waste on a daily basis.
Number 1: It may seem very obvious but if you do not have a system set up in your home to recycle you will not do it. I am again and again surprised to find more and more people who do not have Recycling Bins in their homes. All it takes is a quick trip to your local store, online shop, or grandpa’s shed if you prefer, to find what you need. I recycle all my plastic, glass and aluminum in one bag. My paper in a metal garbage bin and my organic compost in a enamel bucket. Other then these three places I only have one other bin in my home and that is next to the toilet for hygienic waste. There are still a few things like contraceptives and hygienic products that need there own spot and bag to further be thrown away. I have realized that the more garbage bins you have throughout your home/office/space the lazier you will be. You will not walk over to the next one to recycle, but rather dump everything into the one bin, which usually doesn’t get sorted. The lesson here: Less bins, throughout your home. BUT more separate bins in the one location.
Number 2 : Use Glass and Metal Jars for storage, canning, freezing, leftovers and, and, and …. Sometimes I get a little obsessed with glass jars. I have them everywhere. And thankfully, so many products that I buy, come in glass jars. So I can reuse them, refurbish them, and when necessary recycle them. My boyfriend gets a little upset at me sometimes because of the way they start to take over the kitchen and the shelves in our home ( sorry hunny ) but most of the time they are lifesavers. And yes, freezing glass works, just do not fill the jar to the top, and make sure the food is not warm/hot when you put it in the freezer.
Number 3 : Stop using disposable sponges and similar items, and start using wooden bristle brushes. Most sponges are made of polyester or other non organic compounds. These just collect in huge masses, do not decompose, and hold so much bacteria. Instead, start purchasing wooden brushes with natural bristles. I have them beside my kitchen and bathroom sink and in my shower to clean my dishes, my food, my hands, my body etc. and they work so well. They will last much much longer too. Happy Brushing!
Number 4 : For goodness sake buy your yourself a Refillable Water Bottle and USE IT! You would think that this is common these days ( which it mostly is ) but there are still so many plastic water bottles in production. ” Nearly a million plastic beverage bottles are sold every minute around the world. In 2015, Americans purchased about 346 bottles per person—111 billion plastic beverage bottles in all. “ There are many great companies out there producing great bottles. I have at least 8 of these in my home and they come with me everywhere. Insulated, non insulated, big, small, glass, metal. Choose one and use it! Water, Juice, Coffee, Tea, Smoothies you name, it goes in them ! Some great ones are from Klean Kanteen, or Soul Bottles. Or just check your local grocery store to see what they have to offer.
Number 5 : Buying Food in Bulk does not only save you money, time and effort, it reduces your waste in hugeeeee amounts. Just think, should I buy the four 250g packages of rice ? Or the one 1kg package of rice? Rather 4 times the amount of waste, or huge savings! I realize that this is a tricky subject because 1: it does cost a bit more money up front 2: it takes more space to store, 3: it takes more time to find and 4: is heavier to carry. But it is well worth it in the end! Even better are the people who take the time to buy the products from waste free stores and bring all the products home in reusable containers and bags. I buy my dry goods here in Munich at OHNE, in Canada you can purchase from Bulk Barn this way, and more and more of these shops are popping up all over the globe. Just ask around or do a bit of searching in your city or area. If you find this to be difficult, at least buy products that come in reusable or recyclable containers. Glass and Paper is always a better choice then plastic!
Number 6 : Buying Locally and Unpackaged is also a great way to go. Every single town/city in the world ( or I guess almost all of them ) have a weekly farmers market. Here you can buy local produce, bread, cheese, meat etc. and have a great time doing it. And all of it is without or with very minimal packaging! The products will be better, you are supporting local farmers, they are fresher, tastier and have a very low carbon footprint. Don’t forget to bring your ….
Number 7 : Reusable Cotton/Canvas Bags! Without these you would be lost. In the last years governments from countries like Denmark, Italy, and many countries in Africa have even banned plastic bags from being sold. http://www.bigfatbags.co.uk/bans-taxes-charges-plastic-bags/ You can put everything in these bags. Groceries, market finds, your kids toys, your homework, or use them as your handbag! They are useful in so many ways. They are strong, washable and most importantly decomposable.
Number 8 : Compostable Picnic/Party/Take Out Wear is very important. I HATE STYROFOAM! Wooden Forks, Bamboo Plates, Banana Leaf Bowls, the list goes on and on and on. There are sooo many companies producing these kind of products lately! For my last picnic/outdoor party I had no idea where to purchase these items, so I did an internet search for decomposable picnic wear. It took me all of 10 minutes to find the ones I needed, order them, and they were mailed to my home with the week. These products will decompose, and are much stronger than the paper, plastic and styrofoam ones we are used to. Just make sure to take all your waste with your when you leave your party area so that the beaches and parks we know and love stay clean for everyone!
Number 9 : Reusable Beeswax Food Wraps are great. At first I was so confused how to use these and where to use these. But as soon as you have them in your hands you will understand. Think of them as a reusable, chemical free version of plastic wrap/aluminum foil. Your food will stay so fresh, your fridge and cupboards odorless, and you can wash them with mild soap and cold water and reuse them. Fruit, Veggies, Cheese, Bread, Sandwiches, Crackers etc. will all stay fresh in these babies. I have some from Bee’s Wrap and from B Factory. Both work wondrously!
Number 10 : Returnable Glass Food and Drink Jars/Bottles used to be so common, and nowadays less and less. I wish there was still such a thing as a milkman! I am glad that some products still come in glass, and some companies, at least here in Germany, let you return the glass with a deposit attached. Please take time to see if you can do this for your beer, wine, milk, yogurt, honey, tofu etc. in your area. It is again heavier and involves a bit more time, but definitely worth the benefits!
Number 11 : Cotton Towels, Rags, Kitchen Cloths are very useful. I stopped buying paper towels years ago. You DO NOT NEED THEM! I wash and reuse cloth napkins, tea towels, dish towels, kitchen cloths, cleaning rags, handkerchiefs, and of course bath and shower towels. You can find these for such a good price everywhere, or used! and you will save money and produce less paper/plastic waste. Please buy organic cotton!
Number 12 : Cotton Face Wipes will also reduce your carbon footprint. I have about 10 of these and wash them with my white laundry ( usually after stain removing with a curd bar soap ) approximately monthly. I take off my make-up with them in the evenings using coconut oil and love the ritual.
Number 13 : Bar Soaps and Shampoos could change the world! Just think if all shampoo bottles everywhere ceased to exist ? Yes they are usually recyclable but why buy them in the first place if you do not have too? I have multiple bar soaps from Dr. Bronner’s ( only wrapped in paper ) and use them on my body, hands and sometimes hair. I also use a German bar shampoo but can not find the brand at the moment :P Check your local shop for bar soaps and shampoos, you man be surprised at what you find!
Number 14 : Liquid Soaps are of course useful for some things around the home. I also buy mine from Dr. Bronner’s. These are used to wash the dishes, the laundry, the floors, the body and the hands plus more! These pumps sit by my sink and get refilled when low. These liquid soaps are very concentrated so you need less because you must dilute them with water. Buy them as well in bulk and you will save !
Number 15 : Washable, Reusable Diapers, and Feminine Hygiene Products ( does everyone hate that phrase as much as I do ? ) This may sound gross, but IT IS NOT! cotton diapers for your children are clean and natural. They take of course some extra elbow grease to clean, but will save you soooo money and waste. Think of the amount of diapers a baby uses in its lifetime! For us females there are also much better options than tampons and pads. I use THINX ( Thank Heaven I Now ( own ) Xthinx ) as well as a Ruby Cup. I’ll save you the details and the photos, but please try them and use them. YOU ARE WELCOME!
Number 16 : Reusable/Refillable Metal Razor/Shaver. I finally used up all of my Venus razors, and then the razor handle broke. YAHOO! So I was so excited to be able to start using this safety razor. It is golden metal, vintage, and from an old family member. I never knew I could get such a close shave! PLEASE stop using disposable razors people! Last month, and I have witnesses, I pulled one out of the river where I go swimming. :( If a safety razor is not your thing, go for straight razors, electric razors, epilators, at home waxes etc. Their are many options out there, give them a try !
Number 17 : Compostable Bamboo Toothbrushes These guys are genius’. I am so happy that such companies now exist and cannot believe I bought plastic toothbrushes for the first 25 years of my life. They are compostable, natural, and sustainable and you no longer need to stick plastic in your mouth to clean your teeth! I buy HydroPhil, but there are also many other, and equally good options out there on the market.
Number 18 : Homemade Beauty Products. Thanks to Lauren Singer, and her company Trash is for Tossers, and a few other blogs, I have started making some of my own beauty products. This saves me loads of money, produces little waste and is very very easy. From left to right is my homemade toothpaste, body butter, deo-orderant, lip chap and mouthwash! Let me know if your interested and I can send you my recipes.
Number 19 : Metal or Glass Straws. I hate plastic straws ! Try to refuse them in your drinks people. I sometimes forget and I hate it when I do. A good alternative is metal or glass straws. I never have really been much of a straw person, but if you are, or just enjoy a good smoothie, or milkshake, this is the way to go. Download this gorgeous illustration and Poster by the amazing Dani Garreton if you want to make a difference in your community and print some posters !
Number 20 : Wooden Spoons and Utensils. I bought at least 5 plastic utensils at the dollar store when I was 18 for my first apartment and am so mad I did. Wood is so much better ! You can clean and season it naturally, and you do not have plastic objects in your food while mixing and cooking. Metal is good too, but of course will scratch your pots pans. I have both and use both equally. Long live wooden artisans and widdlers :)
Number 21 : Metal Lunch Box Containers. So for a lot of students, tomorrow is the first day of another year of learning and classrooms. I love school, and Autumn, and September! But that is not the point. The point is that plastic lunch boxes are toxic and wasteful. Please buy these and use these! I am so thankful that my mother and father did this and taught me this habit. I carried, and enjoyed, a packed lunch for 21 years, and it is really the way to go. These containers are from Klean Kanteen, Trangia, and Relags and seal and work great.
Number 22 : And of course last but not least Natural Cleaning Products ( of course boughten in bulk ). I wash my home, top to bottom, floors, bathroom, kitchen, windows, counters, clothes, mirrors and whatever else I missed with these few items. Baking Soda, White Vinegar, Castile Soap, and Essential Oils. Please buy these things in bulk and use them always. They are natural and clean so so well. The castile soap is again from Dr. Bronners, and my Essential Oils from Primavera. Use this link and Lisa Blog for ideas and referneces http://www.lisabronner.com/dilutions-cheat-sheet-for-dr-bronners-castile-soap/ Everyone has their own recipes and styles of cleaning. Do what works well for you and try to stop buying into cleaning product consumerism.
If you have read this far Congrats ! And thank you for your attention. I hope you will use this blog post to help you grow and learn. Please share it with others as well. I have learned so much already in the past years about my own waste production and hope that this can help you take steps to reduce yours as I did mine.
For further reading : https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/05/plastics-facts-infographics-ocean-pollution/
PS. Happy Back to School Folks and Happy Birthday dear Virgos :)