Waste not, want not (part 2)

By Emma Hurrell

Last week, with #ZeroWasteWeek ahead of us, I laid down the challenge for you to think about how you can cut down your household waste. Well #ZeroWasteWeek is upon us, so how’s that challenge going? If you’re not sure where to start, we’re very excited to say that we have partnered with the brilliant Boobalou who’ve got some great discounts to help you along in this journey. Keep reading for more info…

As promised, here are some tips from how I started on my journey towards zero waste…

I decided to break it down, start small. Looking around to see what items I regularly use up, then working out some alternatives to reduce what goes into my waste bins or recycling.

First stop: the bathroom

  • Shower gel has gone, replaced by soap with just a minimal paper wrap. I like Dr Bronners, they’re a super eco-friendly brand, plus the soap still gets nice and foamy!
  • Shampoo and conditioner. When the usual bottles were used up (because c’mon, let’s not waste) they were replaced by solid bars of shampoo and conditioner. As a one-off I bought reusable tins to store the solid bars in. And bonus, when you’re flying with hand-luggage, a solid shampoo doesn’t add towards your liquids allowance. There are numerous brands that now do solid shampoo bars, you can find them with a quick google search. Or if your hair is low maintenance you can use your Dr Bronners soap for body and as a shampoo (just two of their suggested 18 uses!).  
  • The Humble Toothbrush. Five billion plastic toothbrushes are produced every year, most end up in landfill. When I heard about bamboo toothbrushes that are sustainably produced and biodegradable, I thought ‘great’! Truthfully, the first one wasn’t so great. I do want low-waste – but I also want my own teeth, and I wasn’t convinced my teeth would last the month with that basic toothbrush. As my teeth are harder to replace, that particular toothbrush didn’t get used. Sad, but at least it’s biodegradable! But we didn’t give up, and as I type I have next to me a ‘Humble Brush’ – much better than my first attempt at purchasing a sustainable toothbrush and even the inner packaging on this brush is compostable! I think this one could be a keeper. Anyone tried this one or any others out there?
  • Single-use face wipes are out and classic washable flannels are in. Side-note: face wipes or baby wipes cause havoc in our water systems, even if they claim to be flushable or biodegradable.
  • Toilet roll. Before you freak out, I’m not suggesting anything radical! Just perhaps consider using toilet roll made from recycled paper, rather than straight from the forest?
  • Ladies. Give a Mooncup a try. They’re around £20 but if you look after it it should last you a couple of years.

The kitchen

  • Ecover washing up liquid is not only easy on the environment but easy zero waste. Simply find your nearest Ecover refill station, and take your empty bottle of Ecover along to re-fill.
  • Buying in bulk sometimes helps to minimise packaging – bigger usually means more stuff in proportionally less packaging. If it’s too cumbersome you can decant into more practical sized containers for regular use.
  • Choose unwrapped items at the supermarket, and go for loose vegetables. I don’t put any loose vegetables in plastic bags, and I only use a paper bag if I have to for things like cherry tomatoes (tip: if you really need a bag, check if your supermarket has paper bags for mushrooms and use those instead of plastic bags – just remember to tell the cashier what’s in them!). Blocks of butter are usually just wrapped in a thin sheet of paper – much better than the plastic alternative.
  • Speaking of plastic bags – carry a reusable bag with you and you’ll never need to buy a plastic bag from the supermarket again. Make it one that folds up small and keep it in your bag so you’re never caught out.
  • Bee’s Wrap, one of my favourite discoveries this year! The company ‘Bees Wrap’ makes washable, reusable, and compostable alternatives to plastic wrap, and I love it. (Plus it’s pretty.) We use their sandwich wraps almost daily, as well as various sized wraps to cover food. It’s taken our clingfilm use down to almost zero
  • Use clothes and towels instead of single use kitchen towel, simply wash and reuse again and again.
  • Does your council collect food waste? If so, make sure you’re using your compost caddy.
  • Water bottles / coffee cups. There are so many great reusable options out there – Klean Kanteen do great water bottles and I love these glass and cork Keep Cups. Once again, get into the habit of carrying it with you and you won’t be caught out.

These are just some of the small steps I’ve taken, but it doesn’t stop here. There are so many simple and creative ways of reducing your impact on the world and preserving this incredible place for future generations. You won’t regret simplifying your life, your home and your daily routine.

It’s hard to eliminate waste, and there are some inspirational people out there doing it much much better than I am. Lauren Singer is living a zero-waste life-style in New York City. Check her blog at trashisfortossers.com for interesting ways to reduce your waste. Bea Johnson lives a zero waste life with a family of four, see her tips at zerowastehome.com. For  recipe ideas on zero waste check out goingzerowaste.com.

If you’ve been inspired to take more steps towards a zero-waste lifestyle, the lovely folks at Boobalou have given our readers a special discount code! During Zero Waste Week they’ve got up to 30% off sale items, and for readers of JustStories you can claim 10% off any non-sale items using the code ZEROWASTE at the checkout (valid until 30/09/16, so get started now!).


About the author: Emma is a Shropshire lass living near the leafy rivers edgeimage not so far from the Big Smoke, but occasionally escapes to the woods, the mountains or the sea. She studied Environmental Science and went on to work for an international development and relief charity.

Picture from pixabay.com

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Those are some useful ideas and tips. Here are a few of mine…
    Ok so this probably will make people go “eek” but I ditched disposable sanitary products ten years ago. Reading what was in them, and how horribly unfriendly they are to the environment (and I’m fairly convinced not very good for us either) I now use re usable pads. They do need a thorough hot wash but given its only once a month, it’s not that bad and they last for a long time. Also we used washable nappies (again for the same reasons) and I have friends who also use reusable wipes for their toilet visits (I’m not quite up for that one!)
    Clothes recycling, buying second hand or accepting donated clothes or buying them from companies who do try to be more environmentally conscious is something I try to do.
    We use Dr Bronner products. I prefer Method to Ecover, personally but they aren’t as easy to get. Also good old fashioned vinegar and bicarbonate for cleaning, invest in a steam cleaner (it works miracles on scummy ovens, grotty bathrooms and other things and virtually no cleaning products needed)
    Food packaging is a big one, I hate all the waste. I need to get better at that!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh and reusable coffee cups are a must. Don’t get me started on paper coffee cups that claim to be recyclable but actually aren’t recycled!


  3. Emma Hurrell says:

    Thanks for your suggestions there Karen. Buying clothes is a big one now that ‘fashion’ has become so disposable, and yet cotton is a hugely water intensive crop to grow. As you say charity shops are a great way to get affordable clothes and give them new life, I also love brands like Patagonia and Hiut denim – investment pieces designed to last, be repaired, and last some more.

    I’ve heard about using vinegar and bicarb to clean, though with the hard water / limescale where I live I haven’t got it quite right yet, I need to do some more research. Any tips?


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