When people hear the concept of zero waste, it can seem somewhat overwhelming. How can someone not create any rubbish?! But the truth is, for the vast majority of people who try to practice a zero waste lifestyle, it is more like zero waste is something to aim towards by taking a slow step by step journey in the right direction. And that’s ok. It is really about doing your bit to protect our planet. Plus each action you take tends to become a gateway to the next. So it really isn’t as hard as it first sounds!
This post covers alot of different areas, but the point is just for me to share tips and alternative products with you all. I intend for you, my readers, to pick somewhere to begin, and to find new ideas to continue from whatever stage you are already at; the idea is not for anyone to try to take it all on at once! Gradual change is the key to making it feel sustainable and not too overwhelming. This is also by no means a comprehensive list by any stretch of the imagination! There are many, many people far further along the journey than I am, but we can all learn from one another, so I am just sharing what I know!
Here are my ideas for developing a zero waste lifestyle, divided into sections for ease of reference (because I like to be organised!)…
This is the area that I have been working on myself most recently, so I figure it makes sense to start here!
Earth Conscious sell a zero waste natural deoderant that now comes in both tin or stick format. I have only just got mine so too early to comment personally, but reviews on it are great!
Shampoo bars are the obvious choice for zero waste hair washing. Alternatively, powder is another option. However, if you cannot get on with shampoo bars or powder, I recommend that you buy a huge bulk size container of shampoo and conditioner so that it needs replacing far less often. You can purchase a smaller reusable pump bottle to make it more practical.
For example, Faith in Nature sell huge 5 litre refills for around £50. If you feel put off by the price for a product you haven’t tried, it is well worth ordering the smaller size versions first then investing in your favourite. They also offer free samples for a small limited number of their products, so you can try before you buy that way too. I realise this may sound like it defeats the point of choosing zero waste items somewhat, but it is really about looking at the bigger picture and thinking ahead. Other brands probably have bulk size versions too, if you look into it and find any others, do let me know in comments.
As for conditioner, I have written before about natural hair conditioners. Although these are not actually zero waste ideas as such, they are items that can be used for a range of purposes and again can usually be purchased in much larger sizes so this helps to drastically reduce waste.
There are a wide range of beautiful, often handmade, natural soaps available that are sold without packaging (or minimal, recycled packaging) so produce little to no waste. If you prefer liquid handwash, again I recommend buying in bulk to reduce waste.
I totally recommend you make your own! There are some fab DIY recipes around if you google. I made a great coffee scrub last year. Alternatively, there are various eco conscious independents and other brands who ensure their packaging is minimal and environmentally- friendly. (And remember to check for no microbeads too!)
Go for a bamboo toothbrush. Most come in fully recyclable minimal packaging and the toothbrush is biodegradable. I have one from Save Some Green.
Alot of people buy many different types of cleaning products for all different purposes, which immediately creates far more waste. So my first bit of advice is try to simplify!
Cloths/ Wipes/ Scrub pads
Opt for resuable versions made from sustainable natural materials, such as bamboo, hemp or organic cotton cloths and wipes, and coconut hair scrub pads for example.
Multi – Purpose Cleaner
I recommend making your own DIY version if possible. We tend to use vinegar solution. Otherwise choose an eco-friendly brand in the largest size possible that covers a range of uses.
Washing up Liquid
Again my best advice is to select one that lasts longer so less waste!
I was sent this fab soapnut starter pack from Living Naturally, which I have used for my most recent washes (probably about 4 loads now of various items). I am really impressed at how effective they are; in my opinion, they leave clothes just as clean and fresh as regular detergent! Not only are they natural and zero waste but they also work out much cheaper too, so this is a very cost effective way to do laundry as well as protecting the environment. Do give them a try and tell me what you think!
Ok, so granted this isn’t relevant to everyone but menstruation products can cause alot of waste so this is an important one! There are various reusable products, so you will most likey find that there is something to suit everyone that needs them. Earthwise Girls are my go to site for this, since they stock a good range of items to choose from. Personally, I mainly use a cup but also have reusable tampons, period pants and cloth pads too so that I can go with the flow. (Get it?! Sorry, excuse the pun!!!)
Eco Fluffy Mama has written alot on this subject and offers great advice.
Food and Drink
This is a huge area. There are so many different aspects and I doubt very much that I have covered even the majority of them in this post, but here goes…
First things first; take your reusable bags along! Or use cardboard crates instead, which is what we do as we find that easier.
Choose items with minimal and recyclable packaging wherever possible. Aiming for a fresh raw food diet, rather than buying convenience goods, is not only good for your health, but better for the environment too. Fruit and veg, for example, do not need plastic wrappers! Of course, I totally understand this might be ideal but is not always realistic for many – but it is, at the very least, just something to consider when doing your shop. Buying bigger versions of long lasting cupboard food also saves on some packaging too.
Try not to buy more than you will eat, freeze if applicable so it lasts longer and my favourite for fruit and veg – make it into a smoothie and drink it up!
Storage/ Lunchboxes/ Picnics
There are lots of durable, practical ways to store food without causing waste. Mason jars, glass or metal containers, resuable sandwich bags and washable beeswax wraps (to replace clingfilm) are all good options. For snacks on the go, carry around reusable cutlery, made from bamboo or similar. Plus carry washable cloths rather than wipes in your bag too.
Did you know? Aluminium foil is not rubbish; scrunch it into a ball and throw it into your recycling pile!
There are lots of great blogs, articles and books about this subject, but here is just a small selection…
Eco Fluffy Mama green living blog
12 Ways To Cut Your Waste by Grow Eat Gift
Zero Waste Guide by Earthwise Girls
Rethink Your Rubbish by PinkOddy
Last but not least…
To celebrate Zero Waste Week, I have a fab Bathroom Starter Kit from Earthwise Girls to giveaway to one lucky reader!
Earthwise Bathroom Set includes:
- Bamboo medium bristles toothbrush
- Wooden hair comb
- Hemp hair & body soap (supplied in a compostable wrapper)
- Earth Conscious deodorant
- Divine chocolate bar
- Pukka herbal teabag
Ends 25th September 2017. Open to UK residents only. Other T&Cs apply.