One of the hardest parts about beginning a zero-waste lifestyle is managing expectation.
You may have read about those people whose yearly rubbish output is small enough to fit inside an eight-ounce mason jar. While an amazing accomplishment, these stories set unrealistic expectations resulting in many of us falling into the trap of doing nothing because we feel we can’t do everything.
The reality is that achieving zero-waste levels of this kind happen by making dozens of zero-waste swaps over time, not overnight!
Which is why we should manage our expectations and remind ourselves the single most important thing we can do is to make a start.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
The key is to start small, first with a few items in your kitchen, then a few for the bathroom. Before you know it you’ll be generating far less waste, and feel great doing it! To make things easier, I've put together a list of simple zero waste swaps you can do to get going.
1. Use Refill Stations
Did you know a fifth of our shopping bills go on packaging? We can significantly reduce packaging waste if we each swap to using refills in favour of individually packaged products.
There are many shops throughout the UK that will allow you refill your own bags and containers, saving on food and packaging waste. One such company, Claire's Refill Station, offers several different eco-conscious personal care products including shampoos and body washes, as well as laundry detergent and other house cleaning products.
Claire's Refill use a novel approach of setting up a pop-up version of their refill station in local towns and villages in Cambridge on the same day each month and can be found here on Facebook.
Here is a list of local packaging-free shops and zero waste projects across the UK.
2. Ditch the Face Wipes
I get it, disposable wipes and cotton pads are super convenient. However, convenience comes at a high price for the environment.
Just use a good old flannel or, alternatively, take a look at these wonderful Reusable Face Pads. They really do work wonders on the skin.
Available in packs of 4, they're also cost effective. If in doubt, look at the bigger picture and run some numbers, remembering to include the hundreds of cotton pads that won’t be dumped into a landfill!
Created from luxury organic bamboo and 100% cotton fabric, the heavenly softness makes them excellent for all skin types and particularly for sensitive areas like the eyes. Disposable face wipes can cause blocked pores or skin irritation due to chemicals within, however, reusable pads are less abrasive on the skin. Plus, they are so absorbent that they’ll even remove waterproof mascara!
Simply use along with a nice oil-based cleanser to help break down make-up at the end of the day. Perfect!
3. Reduce Food Waste
100% natural, reusable, compostable and keep your food fresher for longer. Bees Wax Food Wraps are a great way to cut down on waste in the kitchen and are incredibly simple to use.
The wraps work by using the warmth of your hands to fold and mould over, under or around anything you want to cover. The heat of your hands releases a naturally self-sealing finish to bowls and dishes, and to itself, creating a tight and breathable seal. They can also be used in the freezer.
After using, simply wash your Beeswax Wrap with mild dish-washing soap and cool water, and hang to dry.
We’ve found a lot of handy uses for wax wraps since they’ve become a major part of our household (more about that in our next article), and we can't wait for you to inspire us with the clever ways you use them too!
4. Zero-Waste Kitchen Sponge
Those yellow and green sponges you’ve probably been using your entire life are made out of plastic. Every time you use that little sponge, you are washing tiny particles of plastic into the sea.
If you’re a diehard sponge lover, then switch to an eco-friendly sponge that’s made of natural fibres with none of that synthetic nonsense.
We stock this Washable Kitchen Sponge made from 100% cotton, Bamboo fabric and Hessian to give that extra 'scrubiness'. Each sponge will last up to one year and, as we sell them in packs of 2, that's two whole years of eco-friendly cleaning!
The most important thing we can do is commit to wasting less in general and become more sustainable.