My Journey Towards Zero Waste
One of my goals this year was to limit my waste and really make an effort to embrace more of a zero waste lifestyle. I wanted to learn about how I can change the way I consume, I wanted to be aware and make some simple but impactful changes.
This post is all about those changes. I am nowhere near being completely "zero" waste, and I still have a lot to learn, but I feel a lot better about my choices on a daily basis.
Going vegan a year ago was really a turning point in my life. As soppy as it sounds, it changed my whole perspective on the world. I feel so much more in touch with my values, I have a deep compassion for all living things and this planet is at the top of the list!
On average a person in the UK throws away their own body weight of trash every 7 weeks (!!) I am always in shock at how much plastic we are surrounded by especially in all the supermarkets here in the UK. Everything is wrapped up, things that have absolutely NO need to be.. and the worse thing is most of it is not even recyclable!! I had a row at Tesco on Twitter about this.. things need to change, and they need to change now. Not in 10 years.
I've tried to include as many details as possible about what I use, but if you have any questions or would like me to clarify something please comment below or DM me on Insta!
:: Buying in bulk ::
As much as possible we try and buy things in bulk, particularly dried goods like rice, pasta, lentils, beans, spices, seeds, oats, nuts, flour... etc. There are a few handy shops out there like Source Bulk Foods in Chiswick, an amazing shop coming straight from Australia where you can find literally everything you want in bulk and package free! or Bulk Market which is opening a new store very soon, but I mostly do all of my dried goods and household items shopping online if I can. Amazon has an amazing selection of bulk foods. Buy Whole Foods Online is also a good affordable website, despite the plastic packaging.. which I believe is recyclable.
[ I am still trying to find a better solution for buying food in bulk online which is zero waste! So if you know of any websites, please let me know! ]
:: Jars ::
Hi, My name is Tania and I am a Jar addict. No, but seriously. The picture up there isn't even half of our collection. I collect, recycle, and squirrel away a LOT of jars! Glass jars that is, with either metal screw tops or the ones with the rubber bands. I have a whole selection, but if you want to invest in a few Kilner is one of my favourite jar brand.
Jars are great for everything. I use them to store my bulk foods, to keep leftovers, to take away food with us when we travel or Michael takes leftovers for lunch to his office, I use them to drink my smoothies, to drink water, cocktails.. you know EVERYTHING. This summer I am looking forward to using them for their original purpose: canning vegetables, and pickling everything I can from our new terrace garden!
:: Market ::
We go to the market religiously once a week. Every Saturday, rain or shine we go to our local farmer's market (Broadway Market) we are friendly with the vegetable man who always gives us delicious recipes to follow, and stocks organic fruits and veggies. We bring a bunch of reusable tote bags - one of my favourites is this "Spread Hummus Not Hate" tote*.. haha
Shopping at your local farmer's market is often much cheaper (I often get most of our veggies for under £20) it means no plastic, it means you're supporting local farmers, it means you can get pancakes from your favourite pancake man while doing your weekly shop. It's a win-win situation really..!
:: Produce Bags ::
I use these cotton bags below to store my veggies and collect them at the market or supermarket. They are breathable, reusable and washable! I've got a dozen around and always keep them clean inside our market bags.
So ditch those single use plastic bags at the supermarket and take your own with you. These ones are great, or these are the ones I use below in the photo!
:: Reusable Water Bottle ::
One of the best investments you can do in your Zero-Waste journey is buying a good reusable metal water bottle. One that is big enough so you don't have to refill it every 5 minutes, and one that's light enough that you're happy to carry it around with you when you leave the house or go travelling.
Single use plastic bottles are the devil. I mean this. So find one that makes you happy, there are hundreds of options out there but the ones from Hydroflask (this one is my favourite!!) and Klean Kanteen (loving this one!) are my favourites. They are sturdy, and keep your drinks hot or cold for hours! Buy one and you'll never have to buy one again.
When travelling, look out for water fountains in airports, ask nicely in restaurants if they can fill your bottle up with filtered water, most places will be happy to do so! and always be prepared, packing your own water / bottle means you never have to buy single use plastic bottles.
:: Cutlery ::
Another easy thing you can do is invest in some reusable travel cutlery, there are hundreds of options out there. Wooden, metal, bamboo.. take your pick and keep them in a nice little pouch in your handbag. Ditch those plastic spoons asap. These are the ones I have, they come in a cute pouch!
:: Straws ::
Plastic straws should not exist. They are also the devil and you know it. Always, always say "no straw please" when ordering a drink - wherever you are, and NEVER assume they won't give you one because more often than not they will. Then invest in a nice metal straw kit like this one, or some lovely bamboo ones and have one with you at all times. EASY!
:: Wood, Metal anything but Plastic ::
When buying new household items, always go for the non-plastic version. There are so many options out there. Metal, glass, wood, bamboo... Do some research and choose wisely. Invest in pieces that will last you a long time and you won't have to replace every other month. Quality + eco friendly over cheap and plastic, always.
:: Recycle ::
Now this is something we are consciously making efforts to do every day. I am known as the recycling police in our house and anyone who doesn't recycle will be told immediately (I'm nice I promise) Being aware of what you buy, and checking the packaging to see if it's recyclable where you live should be at the top of your list when embarking on this Zero Waste journey. It's not the easiest part but it's the vital part of the journey. Educate yourself about how to recycle, read labels, and do your best!
:: Compost ::
Composting food waste should also be a priority. A lot of councils in London give you access to individual food waste bins, but check with your council and make it known that you would like to compost! If you have a little bit of space in your backyard/garden/terrace, you can also do it yourself with a handy compost bin (I'm eyeing up this one!) which for anyone who's into gardening will be one of the best ways to fuel your veggies!
:: Donate ::
For the past couple of years I have craved clarity, both in my mind and my wardrobe, which luckily works hand in hand. Every 6 months or so (often coinciding with a season change) I do a clear out of our wardrobes, but also of anything around the house that we've accumulated, things that are collecting dust that would be better off living a new life at someone else's house.
I make a recycling pile for anything broken or damaged in any way, then a big pile to donate at my local charities. This is something fun to do with a girlfriend, someone who will tell you to get your sh*t together, and tell you that that red dress at the back of your closet you haven't worn in 5 years just has to go! Organise a trade party with your best girlfriends, limit waste, and make someone happy! Buying second hand is also an obvious zero waste tip. Shop smart, not cheap. A lot of quality items can be bought second hand, same with books, Amazon is really good at that and always has second hand options for most books out there!
In the Bathroom
:: Toothbrush ::
2 months ago I made the change to a bamboo toothbrush and I don't know why I haven't made the change sooner! Given you're 'supposed' to change your toothbrush every 3 months.. that's SO much plastic overtime. It's a simple change which will make zero difference to your routine. Choose a bamboo one with natural or recyclable bristles, and never look back! I think these ones by Brush With Bamboo are some of the best out there, one of the only plant based, organic, BPA free and vegan toothbrushes !
:: Deodorant ::
I made the change recently to a natural salt rock deodorant, I have tried a lot of different ones and this one by Salt of the Earth is what works best for me! It took a while to get used to it and figuring out how much you have to rub on your skin for it to work all day, but it's so effective and not only good for the environment because it literally lasts forever, and the plastic part is recyclable, but it's also a million times better for your health.
:: Homemade Beauty Products ::
This is a new area for me, and I am having so much fun making things!! I have mastered a shower gel which I love! Here's the recipe I've based mine on, I've just taken out the honey and added a little more oil. I use almond oil because coconut oil would always solidify, and I add my favourite essential oils, my favourites are lavender, bergamot, mint and ravintsara. I use this as a shower gel and sometimes as a cleanser too because of the oil content it's super gentle on the skin and makes you feel all moisturised!
I am excited to try making more things, but Hello Glow is a great website with tons of recipes! It's fun, it's eco and better for you, you know exactly what goes in there. All the natural goodness! I keep nice glass bottles from previous beauty products and re-use them to fill them up with my own creations!
:: Menstrual Cup ::
So this is one that I've been hesitant to try for a long time, up until 4 months ago when I kept being targeted by this company called OrganiCup (who says advertising doesn't work.. ha) so I just got one on a whim and never looked back! Theirs comes in recyclable packaging, they are vegan and eco-friendly. Buy one cup and you'll never have to buy another.. simple.
Now ladies, it did take me a couple of cycles to get used to it. After doing the same routine for YEARS it took a hot second to adjust. Once you've figured it out, you'll wonder why this is not the norm! It's easy, you don't have to think about it for 12 hours straight, it's chemical free (do a quick research on all the nasties they put in tampons.. YUCK) and eco-friendly! Just don't be discouraged the first month you try it out, it takes a bit of practice to get it right, but it will change your life so hang in there!
:: Contraception ::
Now this is a controversial topic, and I probably should write a whole new blog post about this but I have been using a hormone-free contraception method called the "Fertility Awareness Method" also known as FAM, for 3 years now. There are plenty of apps to help you track your cycle, I personally use Clue. (Natural Cycles is another great one, and so is Kindara!)
I recommend every woman to read this book called " Taking Charge of Your Fertility" - it will change your life! Whether you want to avoid pregnancy, or you'd like to make lots of babies, or you would just like to know your body better. It's a must-read, and should actually be something every woman should read at school.
I won't go into much details about the FAM method for now, but you can read more about it here. It's liberating and empowering to feel in charge of your own body. I am not saying it's for everyone, but whether or not you'd like to go hormone free, knowing how your fertility works is a must.
:: Cruelty Free / Vegan ::
It goes without saying that all the beauty products and makeup I use are cruelty-free and vegan. Now, this is something I am still working on as I am slowly phasing out products. Once I run out of a particular product, I replace it with a cruelty-free and vegan option. I love using natural products like coconut oil as a body moisturiser (you can simply make it scented my melting the oil and adding a few drops of your favourite essential oils) or as a hair mask. I will work on a specific post with some of my favourites soon!
I hope this helps anyone who has been wondering where to begin! Do the best that you can, every little change helps! Being aware of what you consume and the impact that it has on your body, on the environment, and on animals is important and should be taken seriously.
* a few of the links above are affiliate links, but this post is not sponsored by anyone.