For a couple of years now I’ve been slowly making my way towards a zero waste lifestyle. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll ever get there, but it’s something I am conscious of and that I am always thinking about when making a purchase. I wanted to share some of the realities of this journey, the things I have found easy and the challenges I have faced, hoping that I’ll be able to provide you with some help, guidance and comfort in your zero waste effort.
One of the first items I bought is metal straws. For some reason, straws seem to be the first item that most people buy when trying to go zero waste. I can only think of a handful of times that these have actually saved me using a plastic straw. I’m not really sure they’ve made the biggest difference. That being said, I do use them daily when I make smoothies for myself, but funnily enough I often forget to take them with me when I’m on the go. I’ve found that in the past year or so most restaurants and takeaway places use paper straws anyway, so I don’t think I would advise buying metal straws unless your confident they’re going to save you using a lot of plastic ones.
Since September, I have started to go to my local refill store and buy quinoa, rice and chia seeds this way instead of in plastic packaging. I think this has been a really big success. It’s really easy for me to take my boxes over to the shop and refill them, and its definitely saved me from buying a number of these items which would have been in plastic packaging. The only issue I have is that I’ve been using some old plastic boxes found in the back of my kitchen cupboard which aren’t the sturdiest, and I have had a couple of quinoa spillages. Other than that, this has worked great and I’d definitely encourage you to shop like this if its available to you.
Moving into the bathroom, I want to start with one of my biggest fails. Unfortunately, this is the safety razor. I seem to be on my own with this one, as I have seen other people say nothing but positive things about them, but its been over a year now and I just can’t get on with mine. I find it much harder to use than a normal razor, and I seem to cut my legs almost every time I try and shave them. Potentially this is down to me having terrible technique, but I feel like I’ve tried again and again and its just not working well for me. To make matters worse I recently dropped it in the shower and part of it broke leaving one side of the razor exposed. It was on me for breaking it, but I was a little disappointed that this item which I had expected to last me 10+ years broke after just 1. If anyone else has any suggestions or guidance in this area, I’d love to hear it!
I have also switched to using bars of soap rather than shower gels in plastic bottles. This is a swap I’m pretty happy with. I think it does take a little adjustment at first, as bar soaps don’t lather in quite the same way that shower gels do, but after a little while it feels totally normal. I have tried quite a few different one’s but currently I am using the Lavender Soap Bar that Ecovibe kindly gifted me. I would say it’s my favourite one so far, I love the lavender scent and it lathers up really easily. It’s also made in the UK which is another big plus.
I have also been using a shampoo bar. This is something that I have seen a lot of people struggling with so I was expecting it to be a bit of a challenge, but I haven’t had any problem whatsoever! Similarly to switching to bar soap, it’s a bit different at first but once you get used to it its not a problem. I have been using one I picked up from Faith in Nature in boots. My hair feels just as clean as with bottled shampoo and it seems to be lasting me well so far. I’d definitely recommend giving it a try.
Another bathroom item I bought was reusable cotton pads. I bought these originally because I used to use disposable cotton pads to take off my makeup, so my intention was to swap those out with reusables. However, I have since just been taking off my makeup with just coconut oil and water, leaving no need for my cotton pads. Sadly they’ve been sat at the bottom of my toiletries bag for quite a while now, left unused. That being said, they might come in handy at some point. I think this just serves as an example to really think about if an item will get used before you go ahead and buy it.
Reusable menstrual products are something I’ve been curious about for a long time but haven’t really dived too much into. I think menstrual cups sound great, but I would never buy one because I know they are not for me. I have been looking for a while at reusable sanitary pads but never actually made the decision to buy one. Last semester at uni I went to a reusable sanitary pad crafting session and made my own. My craft skills are lacking, but I did actually make one. It looks terrible, but it is functional, however I’m not sure for how long. It definitely feels different to using disposables and requires a bit more effort in terms of washing, however I think it works well. I’m definitely going to be looking to buy some (that are better made than my own) in the future.
I want to finish on one of my most recent, and favourite zero waste swaps I’ve made. The reusable coffee cup! Towards the end of the year I realised I was buying quite a lot of coffees/hot chocolates in more disposable cups then I was happy about. After much thought and research I decided to go for the keep cup. It’s made of glass and not only is it functional and environmentally friendly, but it looks great too. Its already saved me on a lot of disposable coffee cups and it also gets me discounts in quite a lot of coffee shops! 100% recommend if you often buy takeaway hot drinks.
I’d love to hear about your zero waste swaps and fails! Let me know in the comments.