Updated: Oct 23, 2018
Reducing waste? I say yes please thanks. This blog post will guide you through some fun steps.
Have you ever thought about how much waste we produce? Pay attention on how much packaging you will find in your bins, both recycling and general. And now pay attention where you can find plastic. It's everywhere... . Scary, I know!
We produce far too much waste. According to Surfers against Sewage (SAS), in Britain every person creates around 177kg packaging waste each year, the worst being plastic.
Plastic never decomposes, or at least not in our life time. It takes up to thousands of years to decompose and releases dangerous toxins into our environment. Only around 17% of the plastic in the UK gets recycled in reality. The rest goes in landfill sites and ends up in oceans.
The plastic production increases each year and we need to bear in mind that every single person makes an impact with their decisions, same as (or similar to) the consumption of animal products.
It harms the animals; when they consume it you can imagine what happens... . Plastic blocks their digestive tract which inevitably leads to death!
When I was transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, I didn’t think much about the environmental issues we are facing today; the animals were my priority. After a while I began to wonder whether that was all I could do for the world. So I started researching about the environmental problems and came across the Zero Waste movement. I was fascinated by how many changes I could make and what an effect this would have on the world and on my own health.
Plastic is deadly for wildlife, both in the ocean and inland. It harms the animals; when they consume it you can imagine what happens... . Plastic blocks their digestive tract which inevitably leads to death! Hence, plastic is detrimental to animals, humans and the environment.
What if I would tell you that you can make changes that won't necessarily cost more money and could even save you money? Sounds good right! I knew you wanna hear more.
So let’s start working together to decrease the waste and increase the lifespan of our earth.
Now let's clarify what Zero Waste means. At least to me. I am not completely zero waste because that is quite hard to achieve, depending on what country you live in and how you get your veggies, and other food. I am talking about changing the way you perceive waste and deal with it. We all know that changing your habits and replacing all your plastic items does't happen overnight.
Here are some useful tips that will help you make your first steps towards a 'Zero' Waste lifestyle.
After you have followed these steps there are many more that you can take of course. This is just to give you an idea of how simple and cheap it can be to be environmental friendly.
1. Plastic Bags -> Tote Bags
This is probably the easiest one.
Learn how to say NO to plastic bags. Stop accepting plastic bags and take tote bags and paper bags and even your remaining plastic bags with you wherever you go. You never know when you'll next have veggie or fruit craving so you wanna be prepared. Instead of taking a new plastic bag from your supermarket, simply reuse old plastic bags or what I usually do is just get them loose.
Reuse plastic bags that you have already as many times as you can, e.g. use an old plastic bag as your bedroom bin until the bag is full and then simply pour the waste out but keep the bag.
2. Plastic Water Bottles-> Tap Water & Reusable Water Bottle
It´s a myth that water in plastic bottles is healthier to consume than tap water. In most cases, it is actually worse because of the chemicals that can contaminate the water. Start getting glass bottles or even better just filter your water; this saves you money and reduces waste. You can get charcoal sticks that you put in your water jug; the charcoal filters the water and gives it a nice sweet taste. You can use one stick for roughly six months and then you can put it in your shoes to keep bad odors away. Charcoal is totally biodegradable!
Get yourself a reusable water bottle that you can always take with you when you leave the house. I have a stainless steel bottle from OneGreenBottle that I can recommend (this is not sponsored, I promise).
3. Plastic straws -> stainless steel/glass/bamboo straw
Say no to plastic straws! #stopsucking You can get a stainless steel, glass or bamboo straw instead and they look much cooler too tbh.
4. Single Use Coffee Cup -> Reusable Coffee Cup Even if coffee cups are usually made out of paper, they are not a sustainable alternative. Around six trees worth of paper are thrown away each year by your average family. Furthermore, those ‘paper’ cups have a lamination layer on top to make them waterproof and this makes it even more difficult to recycle them. Some companies have biodegradable coffee cups which is awesome but rare, and it’s nonetheless waste that we can easily avoid by using our own coffee cups.
Just because something can be recycled doesn't mean that it just dissolves in air. It doesn't. Think circular. Try to reuse everything, even glass containers as much as possible before thinking about throwing them away. I will make a post about recycling and circular economy soon.
I got a bamboo cup from Ecoffee Cup (not sponsored) that I love but there are many other brands and materials (e.g. glass). Plus they look super cute with their quirky patterns. 5. Plastic Toothbrush -> Biodegradable Bamboo Toothbrush This is my favourite one! I use a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush with charcoal infused bristles, totally plastic-free and BPA free. You have to take care that your bristles are not made out of plastic or pig hair though. 6. Shampoo, body gel, hand soap and so on -> Solid Soap Bars Nay plastic bottled soaps; yay soap bars! You can get soap bars anywhere really. You can usually find vegan hand soaps at your local health store, and body gel & shampoo on websites and vegan fairs/markets. But you could also make them yourself.
7. Tampons -> Menstrual Cup
For the women out there, stop poisoning your body with tampons. Get yourself a menstrual cup; there are a lot of different ones, made out of silicone. Some people prefer the DivaCup, others the Organic Cup, Moon Cup, Moskito Cup, or others. It depends on the shape of your body, everybody is different and there's definitely a learning curve to make. But hey, it makes those days in the month more cheerful.
Alternatively, switch to bamboo sanitary pads.
8. No to plastic straws, condiment packets, bags, cutlery, cups and anything packaged
Try to get into the habit of clarifying right at the beginning that you would not like to have a straw with your drink. This took me a while since I always just noticed the straw once it was in my drink.
Here comes the ‘say no to all’ story again but seriously just get used to say no without feeling bad. You’re doing something good. Take your own stainless steel cutlery with you, including your straw. This will make your life easier.
9. Takeaway Food -> Food Container (e.g. stainless steel)
You can prepare your food at home or if you get a cheeky takeaway just let them know you´re using your stainless steel (or plastic if that's something you got at home) food container instead of theirs. Did I mention to bring your own cutlery already?
10. Kitchen Roll -> Bamboo Kitchen Roll
Bamboo trees grow so fast that it´s a perfectly sustainable choice. Replace your paper kitchen roll with bamboo kitchen roll; each sheet can be reused over 80 times and it can go in the washing machine too.
I hope you enjoyed this little guide and find it helpful. Leave a comment.
More Zero Waste posts are to follow.