Happy Saturday humans from the internet, and welcome to the last blog post of 2016! I have recently ordered some Zero Waste essentials online, and although not all of them have arrived yet I thought I’d share them with you because I really want to get the message out there and remind people that this planet is the only one we’ve got (so far), and we simply can’t keep on pretending we don’t have a waste problem. We do. And it’s about time we take action and we do our best to reduce the amount of rubbish we produce on a daily basis.
If you’re interested in Zero Waste these are going to be no news to you, as there are plenty of bloggers and YouTubers out there preaching the importance of minimising, recycling, buying in bulk etc. But hey, I thought I'd offer my little contribution as well.
- Food containers In order to reduce the amount of cling film and foil you use to store your food, make sure you stock up on Tupperwares. Ideally you want them to be metal or glass, as plastic is the material to avoid (a specific post on this will come soon), however even plastic ones will last you for a long time. Remember to bring a Tupperware along with you when you go out for a meal, too! So if you want to take away, you already have your own container.
- Water bottles This hasn’t been a problem for me because I LOVE water bottles. I don’t know what it is about them, probably all the fun I have covering them up with stickers, but I can never have enough of them. I have two plastic ones and a metal one at the moment, two of them I’ve had for a couple of years and they are still in perfect conditions. Personally, having a water bottle with me at all times helps me drink more and stay hydrated, too. So this is definitely a staple that should be in your bag at all times.
- Jars Duuude! Mason jars are such an imperative when you buy foods in bulk. I use them for rice, lentils, beans, couscous, sugar, seeds, coffee, and all the dry foods you can think about really (although I also use them for olive oil, washing up liquid, body lotion and a bunch of other things). Buying in bulk is the best way to avoid packaging and to save money too, as packaging typically accounts for 15% of the retail price.
- Tote bags Do these even deserve to be mentioned? It just sounds SO obvious to me as I’m used to carry tote bags around everywhere I go. This goes especially for grocery shopping, but it's good pratcice to make sure you have a tote bag with you at all times, because you never know when you might need to carry an extra something, and you definitely don't want to reach for a plastic bag. In the UK the government put a 5p charge on plastic bags, which reduced the usage of bags by 80%. The same initiative has been denied here in New Zealand which sucks, but that's not an excuse to refuse to use plastic bags anyway.
- Dishwash brush This is a recent addition to my Zero Waste essentials and I've only used it a couple of times so far. I’m not a fun of brushes like this because I thought they wouldn't clean as deep as a sponge would. However I'm slowly getting used to it and to be honest it's a different feeling but the brush gets the job done. This one is made of wood, metal, and vegetable fibres for the bristles.
- Coffee mug Who doesn't love a good coffee on the way to work in the morning? But hundreds of disposable cups end up in the bin every day as a result of that. Get yourself a reusable coffee mug and carry it around with you, so you'll never be caught off guard on unexpected coffee dates!
The second photo is an amazing glass jar for brewing tea which I want SO MUCH (so Giac if you're reading this you know what to do).
- Metal straws Every smoothie lover knows that a smoothie tastes better when you drink it with a straw. But straws are terrible for the environment and such a waste! I'm so happy that I got these stainless steel straws in the post just a couple of days ago (they came with a handy brush for cleaning as well). Another little thing to carry around with you, just remember whenever you go out for a drink ask for no straw - and you can use your own.
- Safety razor Ladies and gentlemen, this applies to all of you. A good alternative for ladies to shaving is also epilating, which I’ve been doing since I was in high school. I’m now used to it and it doesn’t hurt, but realistically there are places that an electric device that tears off your hairs one by one should never be close to. So when it comes to razors, make sure you use a metal one: the blade is recyclable, and the handle will last you for a lifetime.
- Soap bars This goes for hand soap bars, shampoo bars and conditioner bars. Lush is my favourite place to stock up on shampoo and conditioner bars: they have a huge range for every hair (and nose) type. As for shampoo, my absolute favourite is Sea Senik because it smells like the ocean, and Karma is at second place (I’m definitely Karma team here). The conditioner I’m currently using is called The Plumps and it smells divine. Some places sell these bars unpackaged which is great, but I noticed even when they come in a package that's normally just paper which you can happily recycle.
- Homemade tooth paste I just made this myself yesterday, using only coconut oil and baking soda. Technically you're also supposed to add peppermint oil or some other essential oil for taste, but I haven’t been able to get any, however the final results still tastes ok. Recipe to be revised, but overall a great alternative to regular toothpaste, as the plastic tube is impossible to recycle.
- Bambooo toothbrush I’ve been using eco bamboo toothbrushes for about a year now. Make sure you get one with compostable bristles though, as some are made of plastic and they miss the whole point. This feels just the same as a regular plastic toothbrush, but it's compostable, ecofriendly, and looks sleek AF.
- Coconut oil This is just a general staple for anyone who wants to live Zero Waste. Coconut oil has SO MANY uses: face moisturiser, makeup remover, body lotion, cooking oil, in your toothpaste (see above), hair conditioner... It's just good to have some in your cupboard because trust me, it will come in handy.
- Cotton buds I'd never seen compostable cotton buds until I moved to New Zealand. But then I found a brand called GoBamboo which makes cotton buds made of -you got it- bamboo instead of plastic, which makes them compostable. Some Zero Waste people simply ditch cotton buds altogether claiming your pinkie does the job just as well, but I LOVE the feeling of cleaning my ears with cotton buds so I'm stocked to have found compostable ones here in NZ.
- Menstrual cup I'm going to write a whole separate post on this, but ladies! If you've never tried a menstrual cup before, you don't know what you're missing. You have to try one. IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Menstrual cups (also known as Diva cups or Moon cups) are made out of medical grade silicone and they last for years, and when they expire there are several ways you can dispose of them (read more here).
- Microfiber towels When it comes to cleaning, I found that instead of sponges, hand towels or microfiber towels work just as well. I just got myself a bunch and they are great for any surface cleaning -when you're done, you can just chuck them in the washing and they'll be good to go again once they are clean.
- Laundry nuts I used to use laundry nuts (or soap nuts) in London, however I still haven't found them here in New Zealand so I buy laundry detergent in bulk instead. But laundry nuts are great because they are literally nuts, which means you can chuck them in the compost once you're done with them (three or four of them will last you for up to five washin ups). Your laundry won't smell the same as with regular laundry detergent -in fact it won't smell like anything, because these nuts don't contain any natural or artifical flavours- but it will be just as clean.
And there you have it! I hope this was helpful and it will inspire you to consider Zero Waste and make an effort to reduce the waste we produce every day. Have a fabulous New Years's Eve and I will talk to you in 2017!