10 steps to lower waste

Whenever we throw away something, it has to go somewhere. It’s either going to be recycled, compost food waste which can turn into soil or it lands everywhere. In our oceans, in forests and our beaches. We tend to think about the product but not about its packaging. When we are done unwrapping and it lands in the trash bin it’s out of sight- out of our mind. Only segregating trash is not going to make it become less. We are the consumers who make choices and even tho the companies should look out for package alternatives we create a demand with everything we buy. So in some way each one of us is part of it and each one of us is affected. We all live on this earth.

Let’s take a look on plastic – it does not break down, it is not biodegradable. When they do break down (mostly after hundreds of years to become microplastic) they release toxins which are contaminating our soil and water. Plastic has been useful for us for a time but then everything started to be plastic and in plastic and it means a lot of danger for our oceans and animals. Those are dying because of mistaking plastic for food.

But hey good news; we have alternatives today so we can swap to reusing instead of rebuying or have biodegrable alternatives. I changed up a lot of things when it comes to reducing waste in the past few months. It was a slow process in the past few years when I became aware of it. This is how I started.

bamboo brush

Around two years ago I bought my first bamboo brush because I saw one when I was looking for one. I think that is why it is important for these products to exist in regular shops. My first thought was “Well this makes more sense for our environment.” It also was not much pricier than a regular one. So I also gave loose and dry tooth paste a try. I whish I knew about these earlier.

soap and shampoo bars

I bet I am not the only one who gets overwhelmed with too many things and products or maybe its the side effects of minimalism… But, it satisfies me to keep it simple and I switched to having soap for hands and body ( that I turned into liquid soap) and a shampoo bar for hair and even though I have thick curly hair its having the same effects as other shampoos I used before. It probably depends on which you choose but so far I loved lush’s bars.

other toiletries

I have one simple face wash which will also remove makeup and I’m glad I cut down on that as well. Everybody has to see what works for them especially if you need special skin care. Keep in mind that if you have some issues with breakouts; our skin is usually showing us something is not right on the inside (like in our digestive system) and a healthy diet is the best skin care. At least it is better than trying out almost every skin care product in the drugstore. I only use a detox oil that my mom as a beautician gave me. It works for me and sometimes only washing my face and leaving it alone helps best. Switching to bamboo q-tips was easy just like making my own deodorant. I also did my own body lotion which consists out of shea butter, coconut oil and essential oil. Lowering my waste taught me sometimes you have to invest a little bit of your time instead of money.

diy cleaning products

If you have your own household or you are cleaning and buying cleaning products this will be interesting. I realized that there are so many chemicals that I don’t want to have everywhere. I just want it to be clean. And great news it is possible. I made my own liquid laundry detergent, vinegar cleaner for the floor, bathroom and kitchen and I will upload the “recipes” for those soon as well. So far I can tell it removes chalk and bad smells. Which is great if you have pets because even though it seems like the smell of vinegar will not make it better it is fine in the end and I don’t have to worry about my cat eating treats from the floor.

hair removal

If you choose to remove your hair for yourself and you like it that’s great. And if you don’t remove it that’s great as well! Especially because you don’t buy hair removal products. For people like me who like that – I decided that epilating, sugaring and shaving works best for me. I wish I knew about safety razors earlier, too. They will last a lifetime with just a few blades.

menstrual cup

For our women here; you can probably relate to the struggle of buying reusable menstrual products and its costs with it and when I heard of how much a woman uses in her lifetime on average, how much waste it is producing plus how bad it is for our vgg… I got more into this topic. When I first heard of it I thought I am not even going to give this a try but I did and I have been using the cup for a year now. I can say it does what it’s supposed to do and is an one time investment. Plus they won’t cause or worsen dryness or give you a toxic shock syndrome, leave no fibres behind, are not containing any chemicals, bleaches or absorbency gels.

glass bottle

When I still lived at home we started buying water in glass bottles but having your own water bottle so you can refill it with filtered or tap water is the best thing to do and not even a big change. Now I am also doing that in my own space. At first I was concerned about the water being clean because of the old building. Sometimes you just need to test the water but let me tell you a secret… Our tap water is usually even better than bottled water. Yes, bottled water does not have such strict conditions to be allowed to be sold. And it’s free.

produce bags

These small bags are usually used for fruit, vegetables, bread or nuts at refill stations. They are made out of organic cotton, PET or polyester (not biodegradable). I chose the cotton mesh ones even though they are not see through but that has never been a problem for cashiers. Also this is a reusable for forever. My secret hack; keep at least one in the bag you’re always carrying with you. In case you have a spontaneous grocery shopping. Without them I would most likely walk home from the farmers market with a few plastic bags.

straws

Last but not least are the famous straws. Since we saw the video of the plastic straw being stuck in a turtles nose it seems like everybody is switching to reusable straws. I call that a great trend. There are glass, bamboo, stainless steel, paper, and noodle straws. These are not necessary but if you do use them and like to have them with you on the go if you order drinks that usually come with a straw go for it.

more secret hacks

So far we learned we can save money and rescue our planet, great! This leads me to making your own food/ eat at home instead of buying things on the go, fast food and restaurant visits, especially the ones who will bring you plastic cutlery. I think it is a great habit to bring our own food to work, uni or school. You have more control over what you will eat, how much you spend and the packaging. When I store food I cooked for the next day in my fridge, I just put it in a box, jar or on a plate and put a bowl on top. I started using biodegradable garbage bags instead of the plastic ones and choose jars over cans or well, plastic packaging. If you have a zero waste shop near you you can try out things, too. Research can help you realize things you never thought about and being more mindful of what you are using and buying.

Reminder: Using up what you have is the best option in the first place. You make the decision with every new thing you chose to buy. We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly but way more people doing it imperfectly. So there is no pressure once you start and no black or white mindset like you’re either zero waste or do nothing about it. We all have our tempo and steps and changes we make. Let’s motivate and inspire each other to make a change.

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