Going Zero Waste – The Switches
Following on from my earlier post on the switch in mindset of consumerism which has helped my zero waste journey so far I thought I would write a practical list for all of you lovelies out there wanting to make some changes but don’t know where, or those that have started but want some more inspiration. Many of these I have done/in the process of switching, some are a bit longer term (anything involved in home ownership or with large expenditure). I’ve put it into categories to try and help as best I can.
- Shop locally if possible – farmers markets, local farms, buchers and green grocers are great ways to start reducing your food miles, it’s also fresher and yummier.
- Reduce your meat consumption don’t worry I’m not saying go veggie/vegan BUT a couple of meat free days a week is not only better for the environment but your health and your bank account. Alternatively eat smaller portions of meat and bulk out with pulses and root veg.
- Bring your own containers and bags – I have sewn a few drawstring bags for loose fruit and veg out of old material which I use for those, you can also bring your own tupperware for meat and fish etc to reduce packaging.
- Find your nearest zero waste shop – these are popping up everywhere, I even saw a supermarket trialling it the other day. bring your own containers to refill on those cupboard foods – pasta, rice, spices, popcorn, raisins, cereal. My local store seems to have so much as well as refill stations for things such as washing up liquid and liquid shampoos.
- Avoid the overpackaged items where possible when shopping in the supermarket or look for the items packaged in recyable materials.
- When it comes to clothing, buy clothes that are well made, preferably out of non-synthetic materials. they cost more initially but should last longer long term. Avoid fashion fads and if need be just accessorise. The other option is buy secondhand, buy from charity shops, vintage, clothes exchanges, online, there’s so many ways to buy secondhand clothes these days.
- Switch to bamboo toothbrushes – apparently you can now get these as a toothbrush head for electric toothbrushes! who knew?!
- Toothpaste – there is a whole array of eco friendly toothpastes out there, often charcoal based, I am yet to change as I have really weak enamel and this is one that I want to read up on more.
- Switch to bar soap – stop buying liquid soap and body wash, just use a good old bar of soap!
- Shampoo and Conditioner Bars – There are thousands of these around now, changes are your local vegan/zero waste shop will sell some but if not, online is inundated, and there’s s many forums to help you decide what would work best. those in hard water areas may need to do some kind of vinegar rinse just FYI.
- Deodorant – I now use some lovely eco friendly deodorant called fitpit (from my local zero waste store) it comes in a jar and you just take a pea sized amount and wipe on your underarms, I won’t lie I can sometimes be a sweaty betty and this stuff stands up to the job perfectly and is now working out slightly cheaper than the old stuff I had to use to contain the stank.
- Loo Roll – a drastic change is the family cloth which is basically resuable baby wipes for all to use, my hubby won’t come around to this yet, Who Gives a Crap toilet paper is the new one that is recommended for being environmentally friendly, it does cost more but apparently lasts better from the reviews I’ve read, its not one we’ve done yet.
- Safety Razor – Switch to a reusable safety razor, this is something my hubby is very enthusiastic for and is top of his Christmas list this year. With a safety razor the only thing to change is the blades themselves, which can also be recycled so whilst it costs more initially it works out cheaper in the long run.
- Sanitary Products -CSP (reusable sanitary towels) is getting very popular now, with some amazing patterns out there, Ive made myself some reusable pantyliners for those awkward days and I will soon be switching to a menstrual cup, once I’m brave enough, but I’ve only read good things on these so I need to be brave on this one.
- Face Scrubbies – ages ago I crocheted myself some face scrubbies with some leftover yarn from various projects and they’re brilliant for cleaning my face with.
- DIY body scrubs – Pinterest is awash with DIY recipes such as sugar scrubs, I actually sometimes use a coffee scrub which is literally the lftover coffee when we make it with some coconut oil, whilst it sounds gross I actually enjoy the smell and my skin is always so smooth, soft and moisturised after I use it.
- Squash – We get through a lot of squash in this house so I try and make my own cordials and squash when I can.
- Crisps – I LOVE crisps and am a bit of a fiend however I now tend to have popcorn (bought at the local zero wast shop package free), I also save potato peelings and pop them in a pot to bake into crisps if I need something. That being said my kids adore crisps and I am still buying some for them, but the general consumption in the house has lowered.
- Bread – I love fresh bread so I do sometimes try to make my own bread, it’s not overly practical though so I do intend to get a secondhand bread machine in the future as we eat a lot of bread here.
- Cakes and sweet treats – I try to bake cakes etc myself which i often enjoy due to my love of baking anyway but its particularly helpful when bananas or lemons are going over to just pop them in a cake.
- Chocolate and Sweets – This one is difficult – I used to just consume dairy milk and all the sweets but I now buy fairtrade dark chocolate in recyable packaging which also means I consume less. Sweets I try to buy pick n mix where I can, but for the other family chocolate it still needs to be improved. Baby steps and all that.
- Herbs – Where I can I buy these in bulk to reduce packaging I also have a load of herbs from the summer that I grew and dried myself, obvsiously in summer it’s easier to just use fresh herbs from the garden.
- Grow your own – I’ve loved growing veg this year as have the kids so next year we plan to grow even more, nothing reduces food miles like home grown!
- Beeswax wraps – I made my own beeswax wraps that I try and use in place of cling film, they work brilliantly,and they’re much prettier too.
- Milk – We now have milked delivered once a week from a local dairy in glass milk bottles, its yummier, fresher, food miles are less and the bottles are collected every week with each delivery and we are supporting a local farm. At some point we will up it to deliveries twice a week but at the moment we can’t quite stretch to that.
Laundry and cleaning
- Soapnuts – I no longer use detergent or conditioner, I just pop some soapnuts in a little muslin bag, pop in the washing machine and they do a fantastic job.
- Bicarbonate of Soda and Vinegar – WHY, WHY, WHY had I never come accross the magic cleabing properties of bicarb before? need to clean your oven? chuck some bicarb and vinegar in there. want to get rid of a bad smell, leave some bicarb on whatever for a while then hoover it up. Got a poop that is blocking your toilet? You better belive bicarb and vinegar will sort that. I buy my bicarb in bulk and its just amazing.
- Sprays – I also make things like disenfectant sprays myself thanks to handy recipes Ive found on the Zero Waste Making Circle group on Facebook, made from things such as citrus enzyme which I’ve made myself with leftover orange/lemon peels.
- Ecoconut scourers – these are supposed to be amazing I am yet to try them but they are on my list to use instead of sponges and brushes.
- Wash cloths, – you can make some yourself from all sorts, I plan to make some soon with some of the old clothes that were destined for the bin.
- Soda Crystals – Another miracle all rounder, great for popping into the washing if you’ve got some stains, unblocking drains/maintaining them (especially with soap build up) killing algae/moss on patios, its another great all rounder.
- Plunger – I used to use all kinds of ridiculous chemicals to clean our drains when a simple plunger does a good job, especially if you have a house full of girls.
- Reusable kitchen roll – named “unpaper towels” theres some nifty ones out there to buy but in all honesty? I just have a little basket of muslins under my sink from when the girls were babies that I use instead.
- Reusable nappies! Oh how I wish I’d done this years ago, they’re so easy to use I just love them. I used to be disgusted at the thought of dealing with the poop but it’s amazing how quickly you become immune to it.
- Reuable wipes – I made our own from old baby towels that had been outgrown so it cost us nothing. They are brilliant and are used for all sorts and have saved us so much money.
- Clothes – buy secondhand if you can, they’re in them for such a short period of time, I wish had done that more with Maisie, athough if youve got more than one then sometimes investing in a well made item of clothing which may cost more works out better than a cheap brand because of how well it will wash and last for younger siblings.
- Furniture -secondhand all the way, I wish we had done this as we paid a small fortune for the girls matching sets and some of them are just not great to be honest. The only things you should ALWAYS buy new is a mattress due to the increased risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) from secondhand.
- Toys – Buy wooden -buy secondhand – buy ethical, we have started switching since last year and I wish I’d read up more on things like the montessori approach to learning earlier on, its been fantastic, apart from the play kitchen the two most played with toys in our house is our Grimms 12 piece rainbow, and some wood slices I cut up and sanded myself from an old tree branch. The imagination of children is incredible and so fascinating.
- Ditch the glitter – It’s an awful micro-plastic that gets everywhere, we happen to have loads of it and sequins but I’ve decided not to buy more once these ones run out.
- Get them involved in the garden – it’s great for their development, health and kids love growing food and harvesting it, trust me.
- Use a wooden hairbrush/comb with boar bristles – I have recently made this switch and its amazing, apart from being good for the environment it makes your hair feel fantastic too.
- Lipbalm there are so many ways to make your own out there and they’re super easy and a fun activity to do with kids
- Make Up – I understand that some people need the make up I know I often need a little to feel like I don’t look like a victorian child with flu that’s not going to survive winter so, buy ethical brands (do some research online there seems to be more and more brands popping up). Or Make your own, pages such as the Zero Waste Making Circle on FB have some helpful recipes in their files, and my old friend pinterest is always helpful too.
- Jewellery – I rarely wear jewellery except couple of stud earrings and my engagement/wedding ring so my jewellery collection is very limited which suits me fine. But if you like jewellery, buy secondhand, buy from antique shops and charity shops, buy from sellers that have made jwellery from rececyled beads etc, its small steps but it all helps.
- Energy Provider – do your research and switch to an eco friendly energy provider with renewabe energy.
- Solar panels – better yet get solar panels fitted.
- Insulation – make sure your home is insulated well and your glazing is up to the job.
- Hang up washing on the line/washing horse.
- Choose the eco settings on things such as the washing machine and dishwasher.
- Turn the TV etc off at the wall.
- reuse bath water – save it and water the plants with it, especially during the summer!
- Compost – this one is so easy to do, I can’t recommend it enough, check out local selling pages for secondhand compost bins if you want to be very zero waste.
- Get a waterbutt to collect rainwater to water the plants with too.
- Look up edible weeds you can use dandelion in particular for all sorts.
- Grow your own fruit veg and herbs.
- Make your garden a haven for wildlife with insect friendly plants, bird feeders etc.
Out and About
- Walk more places, your waistline will thank you and the fresh air will do you good, not to mention the money you save on fuel and parking.
- Refuse the freebies they give out at events, it’s more tat that you don’t need.
- Bring your own reusable straws
- Bring your own coffee cup and refillable drinks bottle (the drnks bottle will also save you sooo much money).
- Refuse the plastic cutlery, bring your own.