This is a first in a series of switch outs as I make my way to producing less waste, in particular plastic consumption. I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% zero waste, but the choices I make I can make a substantial difference in the amount of plastic I consume. Aside from the usual switches all over YouTube (skin care, water bottles etc) I’ve included kitchen and laundry switch outs. Skin care is the hardest for me to reduce as I love my beauty products!
Cosmetics and Skin Care
I switched out shower gel for body soaps and so far happy with the switch. Lathering up might take a little bit of elbow grease! I’m currently using cruelty free Pacifica body soaps with a konjac sponge and am happy. I didn’t like so much the soap was vacuum packed in plastic then in a cardboard box however it’s still saving a ton of plastic and pennies. The bars seem to last forever and they’re less likely to be filled with nasty ingredients like SLS, palm oil, petroleum (reading labels a must). I did have to find another soap dish however.
DIY Toothpaste, Deodorant, Eye Cream
Aside from the bottles and jars the ingredients come in, I’m saving plastic by not buying toothpaste, deodorant and eye cream (updated recipe to come) by making my own. Plus after the initial purchase of the ingredients (coconut oil, wheat germ oil, sweet almond oil, bi carb soda etc) it’s cheaper than buying store bought.
I wish I’d switched to one earlier if for anything 99% less cramps. Practically none at all! And there’s no issue of smell. It’s surprisingly comfortable and not as messy as it sounds! If anything less mess.
This is work in process. I have a tendency over brush my teeth which leads to receding gums and gum fillings and am always advised to use an electric toothbrush which I love. Currently I’m one brush electric and the other bamboo. At first it felt like I was cleaning my teeth with a stick (technically yes) and I don’t get the bio degradable nylon bristles. Isn’t nylon plastic and doesn’t that take years to break down?
Kitchen and Laundry
Clothes Peg Basket
I never thought I’d be one to use pegs, but when you dry your laundry outside especially on a balcony high up, it can get pretty windy so clothes pegs are essential. I’ve been using plastic peg baskets that I usually have to replace twice a year as the sun breaks the plastic down. A few months ago it broke and I wanted to replace it with something not plastic that wouldn’t get mouldy and be able to drain water as I leave the laundry stand out in all weather. I found in Casa, 2 metal peg baskets which are perfect. I’m not sure how hot they’ll get it in the summer, but they should last a few years provided they don’t get rusty. I’ll switch out the plastic pegs for wood pegs when needed.
I’ve been buying recycled or plastic bin liners that are made of part post consumer plastic, but they still create the issue of more plastic waste. Barcelona has various recycle bins (plastic and metal, paper, glass, organic, non recyclable like cat poo, cigarette butts etc) and I daily I’m using bin bags for the cats business and then changing it completely twice a week. I’ve switched to a potato based liner for the cat’s litter and so far it’s working fine. I’ve purchased some for the kitchen bin and will be trying them out soon. My only concern is as they start to compost/break down in the summer while in the bin.
Window Cleaner, Bathroom and Multi Purpose Cleaner
When my eco store bought window cleaner ran out, I filled the spray bottle with a mix of white wine vinegar and water. Cleans 10 times better!
My bathroom and multi cleaner are diluted ecological solutions, Frosch Ecologio Antical (anti calcium) Vinegar solution and Frosch Multi Use PH Neutral respectively in 2 separate spray bottles. One for the bathrooms and one for the kitchen.
Cling Film/Plastic Wrap Replacement
Okay, I know there’s issue of plastic from plastic pots seeping into food, but I’ve been switching out cling film for plastic pots. The pots are reusable, were either purchased in France or at in French owned supermarkets Spain so as France banned any BPA plastic that comes in direct contact with food they should be okay. Glass would be better, but glass and me in the kitchen. Nah! Or put a plate over the top of bowls in and out of the fridge.
I mentioned that I’m not one who likes to shop second hand. Maybe it’s because I had hand me down’s growing up and I always feel the clothes have the previous owners vibe. I am more aware of fast fashion and it’s ethical (human labour) and environmental impact. I making a more conscious effort to shop less at the corporation chains (Zara; Inditex) however I still can’t justify spending a huge amount on say one top. I know if it’s better quality it’ll last longer, but it’s the initial purchase and it’ll have to be a basic or classic. Being vegan helps when it comes to leather items, whoever some zero wasters suggest avoiding polyester, man made fibres as they release plastic filaments while washing which gets into the water system. Being a vegan man made fabrics are the alternative to wool, silk, leather. It’s rob from Peter to pay Paul.
At the moment I’m replacing Spring into Summer clothes, tops that have lost their shine (buy better quality!) though I’m trying in general to buy less clothes. I look at the item and think will it work with other pieces in my wardrobe, will I wear it, how many washes before it falls apart, looses shape, is it worth the price tag, what mood am I in (retail therapy!), do I really need it. If I get an item and realise it doesn’t or won’t work or was in impulse buy it goes back. Less is more!
Plastic Shopping Bags and Plastic Wrapping (beauty products, tamper resident wrap etc)
If and when I can, I say no. In Europe we get charged anything from 5-10c a plastic bag for non clothes or shoe bags. Grocery shopping unless I’m caught out I use my rucksack, cotton totes and the supermarket reusable bags. Paper clothes bags I usually if they’re a decent size say yes as I reuse them for paper recycling. Small paper bags I can’t reuse I say no to. Plastic clothes shop bags depends on what I’m buying. I always have a cotton tote somewhere in one of my bags for other buys. I just wish they wouldn’t get so dirty so easily and clean better.
I’m also when shopping looking for items that come without so much plastic wrapping. I get that plastic wrap’s unavoidable and at times essential, but a lot of it’s unnecessary. If it has less I’ll opt for that option. Grocery shopping’s tricky as the supermarkets here, loose perishable items are bagged and don’t think they’ll like cotton food bags. I also when buying pre cooked beans in jars go for the ones without the removal plastic seal around the lid. As long as the lid’s press button’s activated/sealed it’s good.
I’ve always opted for loose Darjeeling and green tea, tea leaves as I have my own taste in tea strength. Herbal teas, the peppermint teabag brand I current get everything even down to the ‘plastic’ wrap on the box is biodegradable with vegetal based inks. Other herbal teas if I get them from the organic shops generally have less waste. I’d prefer the teabags weren’t individually wrapped but at least the paper’s recycable. Coffee. I don’t drink it anymore so loads of Nespresso pods and coffee packs saved!
Kombucha and Apple Cider Vinegar
P started making his own kombucha and apple cider vinegar and I’ve taken over the ‘care’ or fermentation. So easy and saves lots of money and plastic. And yes the only space for them is on a shelfie.
Minimalism or having less shit in general
I’m working on it! I follow the KonMari Method of tidying: only keep what gives you joy and do regular edits to avoid clutter building up.
The most obvious switch. I recently found a metal 1 litre drinking bottle which instantly replaced my 75ml plastic gym and out and about bottle. For some reason 1 litre drinking bottles are so hard to find in Spain. The lid isn’t metal and will have to be replaced at some point, but the bottle’s metal so that saves a lot of plastic as I usually replace my reusable bottle about x2 a year.
The post explaining why I wanted to reduce waste and what is zero waste can be found here.
Recycle more or recycle less? Do you think there’s too much unnecessary plastic?