Zero waste is a journey, some days a seemingly endless one and I’ll be the first to admit that plastic still makes its way into my life (most frequently via the post tbh (when will they stop making envelopes with windows?!). Anyone that claims to be 100% completely single use plastic free is telling a few little porky pies (lies) if you ask me, even the keenest of advocates like @zerowastechef admits that her daughter once came to her to make the claim “the only way to be truly zero-waste is to be dead” to which she replied “perfection is not an option”!
So if you’re new to the journey here are a few pesky things which can easily be avoided or swapped with a little time and a ‘think outside the box’ mentality, so you never need buy them ever again! I’m not talking about the usual suspects (bottled water, plastic shopping bags, straws, coffee cups etc.). If you’re reading this blog then chances are you’ve already made it that far (YAAAAAASSSS QWEEEEEN!!!). If not then get yourself a cotton bag and a reuseable cup, straw and drink-bottle to join the #greengirlsclub (boys allowed too).
- Cling Film – whilst it can technically be recycled if it’s clean (at least in my borough), it’s completely unnecessary in my eyes. Instead opt for jars, tins, existing tupperware or the good old trick of a plate on top of a bowl in the fridge instead. OR if you’re not going to eat something straight away, freeze it! You might also like to look into wax wraps for things like sandwiches (or to use in place of cling film).
- Liquid (body) soap – It takes a little getting used to going back to bar soap, but just think of all the containers you’ll be saving from landfill! You might have a particular scent you like which can be the bit that you’ll need to spend time looking into as some soaps have that, well, ‘old world soapy’ smell. Home made is always best (I don’t mean make them yourself, but buy home made for the best scents without the plastic wrapping).
- Sponges/ Wipes – How many cotton tea towels (or normal bath towels) have you thrown away because they were super stained or just a bit old/ scratchy/ gross? BINGO! They’re your new dishcloths! Use a little bit of grandma’s frugal wisdom in your everyday life to save you time and money, and at the same time save waste from landfill.
- Swapping dry for canned – Bagged lentils, chickpeas etc. If you can get something in bulk and have a ‘zero-waste’ shop near you then that’s AMAZING news, if not then try to swap as many dry goods for canned goods as you can (no pun intended).
- Make. Your. Mylk – Already cut out dairy? Big green points for you gurrrl. If you’re drinking oat, almond or some other type of milk replacement why not try making your own? If you already own a blender then it only takes a few minutes of your time… quicker than nipping to the shop!
- HUMMUS – I can’t stress this enough, the shop bought stuff is NO GOOD, hun! It is SO easy to make and again only requires a blender/ stick blender/ nutribullet to do. I’m using the same £7 stick blender I bought from Argos about 6 years ago! Don’t want to buy new? Try Ebay or Gumtree! Crack the capitalist code and stop buying new when you don’t need to. You’ll be the belle of the picnic/ bbq/ party.
- Bags of fruit – Why? You need 6 apples? Then buy 6 apples, just not in a bag. You almost always go home and find out that one of the apples is all bruised anyway and have to make it into something else in order to save it. Pick the produce you want, don’t go straight for the bag.
- Face Wipes – I’m not much of a makeup wearer and actually haven’t purchased face wipes in a loooong time BUT if you’re still using them, get them gone, gurl. Face wipes are made of pure plastic, they defo canno’t be flushed down the toilet and never biodegrade (they’re the number one thing I find during my beach cleans!). Repace them with a 100% cotton muslin cloth. Liz Earle is out here making a fortune selling teeny tiny versions of what are essentially baby burping cloths… why? Because they WORK! The makeup rinses off as if it wasn’t there in the first place, and muslin is 100% cotton (biodegradable) and super soft on your skin. If you get to a place where you’ve worn a bunch of holes in your cloth you can compost them!
- Throwing my food in the bin – This is SO important. Throwing your food waste in the bin is toxic to the planet. By doing so you’re condemning it to landfill where instead of breaking down it will let off harmful methane into the atmosphere damaging the ozone layer and trapping heat (causing climate change). I’m going to write a longer article on this because it’s so important but get yourself a compost, worm farm or look up what is available in your own community regarding food waste disposal. Food scraps can be used to create very fertile compost and grown more food, don’t waste that!
- Non Reusable Sanitary Products – I’m looking at you ladies, but men if you’re reading you should know what the deal is too so keep reading (real men aren’t scared of periods). Why would you buy something just to throw it away again and again? It’s waste madness! If you’ve not come to terms with using a Mooncup (yet) then you can always look into period proof undies or washable pads instead? I don’t know about you but I’d prefer the sea to be void of tampons that haven’t broken down in the sewerage system, I like my beaches tampon-free.
Maybe you’re already doing some of these, or perhaps it’s given you some food for thought- wherever you are in your journey one of the most important things to remember is to have open discussions with other people about where they are in theirs. We can all help each other along and save the planet together at the same time.
Once we can appreciate that zero waste is a journey that everyone is on (and that everyone has a different starting point based on their own background) only then can we help guide others around us in a compassionate way rather than judge them for what they’re doing wrong- compassion what all this is about! Learning to read people and run the fine line between education and annoyance is somewhat of a fine art that takes a bit more tuning in some cases, more often than not it’s about listening though, not talking. In my experience people will usually ask you about what they’re interested in or are happy to answer truly open genuine questions directed at them (but there is a big difference between being genuine and being antagonising).
Melodie Tyrer is The Epicurean Mermaid. Reach out on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook & watch out for her next event.
Please sign and share my petition to stop the sale of single use plastics within 500m of the shoreline.