This year, I tried Veganism during Veganuary and found it to be very insightful. I learned that even being Vegetarian means that I was not aware of everything that I was consuming in my food. The amount of random ingredients in foods is shocking.
Going vegan set in motion my research into zero-waste, and I soon realised that not only does the food that we eat have so many silly ingredients in it, but the packaging of these foods is also so bad for the environment. I cannot believe how many produce plastic bags are NOT recyclable. Since I was already donating to charities attempting to avoid precisely what they are fighting against made so much more sense than simply donating.
In this blog post, I hope to inspire people to change like so many friends around me have. The earth needs us to stop damaging it, so lets imperfectly try to be the best we can!
My first few steps
One of the first things that urged me to seek out more package-free products was Lush; they’re a massive company but nearly everything they make is cruelty-free and handmade fresh ingredients. On a visit to Carmarthen with my friends, we went into a Lush shop, and I bought my first ever Lush products. Before then, I’d always been frightened by the conversational employees testing out products with people. However, that day I was feeling particularly social, and so I went for it, I asked an employee about hair conditioner and moisturiser. From there, I got more confident about talking to people in shops in general. So I’m really glad I went for it that day.
The first thing I bought that was packaging free was a shampoo bar. This really showed me how many shampoo bottles I was throwing away each year, and how many I wasn’t recycling! However, the products which really intrigued me were the package free deodorants. I currently have two – the first one I bought is still going strong after 3 months – Aromaco and Sunflower, they smell great and work brilliantly. There are loads of types of alternative deodorants, you can buy ones in jars that are cream form, there are ones that come in cardboard packaging that roll up like a balm – there are just so many choices that it gets to the point at which aerosol cans just seem so wasteful.
Another switch I have found to be more efficient and eco-friendly are toothpaste tabs. I buy mine from Plentiful, the plastic-free shop. They’re a small business and the lady who owns it even writes a cute note on the box they’re shipped in! These toothpaste tabs leave my mouth feeling so fresh in a way that no Colgate brand had ever done before. It actually feels 100% clean. The dryness does take a bit of getting used to at first, but a quick swig of water can fix that.
Perhaps the first product that I invested in that is zero-waste is the Diva Cup. This has changed my periods forever! I can run, do HIIT workouts, go to work, sleep and bathe without any fear of leaking, any pain and without fuss. It is the closest I believe physically possible to not feeling like you’re on your period when you’re on your period! After using it for about 9 months, I can’t imagine how much money I’ve saved as well as how much waste I’ve avoided. For example, let’s say you buy two boxes of tampons per month, that’s £2.85 from Tesco, times that by 9, that’s just over £50 … MAD. Maybe £6 a month doesn’t seem a lot, but blimey it adds up. That’s actually the cost of more than one Diva Cup. However, perhaps shoving a silicone cup up your vagina isn’t your cup of tea, and to be honest, I don’t want to have something inside me sometimes too, I get it, which is why I’ve invested in reusable pads! They’re literally a cushion for your labia – no joke. Simply throw them in the washing machine once you feel you need to and there you go, no waste, low cost and a luxury labia experience. Haha. The ones I bought are from Plastic Freedom.
Another awesome switch I made was taking with my cutlery, a straw and a reusable cold-brew coffee mug. I’m not really the hot-coffee kinda gal so a reusable cold-brew cup is perfect for me. Also, it’s great for other cold drinks like slushies, and tango ice-blasts. Just ask the employees and I’m sure they’d be happy to find the right price for your reusable cup.
Changes in my home
Bringing products you can use instead of plastic products is all well and good but, do you need them? So many people I’ve watched on YouTube get into the Zero-Waste lifestyle and buy everything they think they need. In reality, they don’t need it just because it’s branded zero-waste. Don’t chuck everything that’s plastic that you own away- reuse it! When I was searching for zero-waste products that I need, I tried to keep reminding myself, “do I need this or do I want this?”. In our fast-paced society, it’s sometimes hard to distinguish wants and needs; here are a few things I believe I needed.
Reusable, biodegradable sponges: a brilliant compostable alternative to disposable yellow/green sponges that every student owns haha. A Coconut bottle brush in the place of a disposable scourer. Reusable makeup wipes and a flannel: the number of wipes I’ve bought and thrown away is probably too much than I’d like to admit, but since switching to reusable wipes this year, it’s been great.
What I’m Working on
Finally, I’d like to highlight how important it is to realise that doing zero-waste/low-waste perfectly is impossible. We need to stop shaming people who aren’t making changes as fast as others. What the Earth needs is millions of us trying our best and doing zero-waste imperfectly. Currently, I’m trying to reuse as many things as possible. I’m trying to get creative with it, haha.
So, I decided to reuse my old jars from the foods I’ve eaten. For example, I re-purposed my old Jam jars and olive jar into spice, salt and coffee jars. Seriously though…who needs to go out and buy a jar when you essentially get one for free when you buy the food it contains?! Bizarre. To label these jars I’m using a posca pen so that when I’ve used up all of its contents, I can reuse it again for whatever needs to be put in a jar. Not only does storing ingredients in larger jars allow me to bulk-buy spices and herbs, but it also means that I’ll save money and avoid unnecessary waste.
Hope people enjoyed reading this. Please, let me know what you guys thought and if you have any tips about reducing waste and your journey. Let’s make the world a better place.