Earlier this year after watching zero waste videos on YouTube I decided to start reducing my ‘waste’ by recycling less. Notably my plastic waste, having less items in general and start shopping more consciously. I know I’ll never be 100% zero waste and after making good strides for a few months, I’ve kinda hit a stand still. And it’s a little disheartening. I was doing so well!
Plastic seems unavoidable no matter how much I try to avoid it. Namely packaging. Food, cosmetics, internet shopping, even razor blades for my safety razor that are meant to reduce the plastic, the cats medicine comes packed in plastic. At times it’s money based. Do I order online cheaper and deal with plastic wrap or buy local, save on emissions, but still have the plastic and spend more? Even items to save on plastic come in plastic! I actively now if I can avoid the plastic options. I know plastic at times is unavoidable and at times the only solution, but if I can I opt out looking for a more environmentally friendly version. That said, I have noticed if something does need replacing like a tray recently, I don’t always think initially to get a non plastic version. My mind went blank to get a wood tray. I ended up getting a plastic one. I think this was due to price, but I still didn’t think.
I mentioned previously that while zero waste, minimalism, being plant based, vegan and shopping more consciously or ethically (no slave labour, caring for the environmental etc) are separate in their own right, once you start down either one of the paths, they kinda all merge together, sharing many traits. So while I’ve hit a wall with some, others are slowly progressing even though it seems like standstill. Like previous updates I’ll break it down into groceries, cosmetics, house, fashion and other which is how they merge together.
Groceries are still are my major road block. I’m still opting for glass jars over plastic containers if I can. I still prefer to choose jars that don’t have the plastic seal around instead having the press button seal. The cats chicken I now store in the fridge in a masion jar giving it a specimen lab feel. I was throwing out the previous plastic pot when it got too greasy even with washing in hot soapy water (and lets not talk about the plastic the chicken comes in and new useless more waste cardboard sleeve). Cling film’s gone. Anything that was previously cling filmed wrapped now goes in reusable plastic pots.
If I can, I get some fresh vegetables from the organic shop as their free produce bags are corn based rather than plastic. However it’s still cheaper to buy organic food from my local supermarket that’s closer, at times better quality but has more plastic. When my local supermarket stocks 1kg punnet of blueberries in a wooden pallet with just a plastic film I opt for that, rather than 250g plastic punnets. This also cheaper in the long run.
The worst is the internal argument I have if I want a packet of crisps/chips, cereal bar or other snacks out. It’s just a packet of crisps! Yes and the wrapper probably won’t get recycled once it’s entered the ‘system’ ending up in the oceans. I do great (wearing retainers out helps!) unless it’s a big food shop then maybe a bag works its way into the basket. Generally I’m good at saying no to plastic wrapped snacks. Cereal bars, I switched to homemade date balls.
Those safety razors! It took a while to find ones that aren’t so sharp I nick my legs every time shaving (I still prefer my old Gillette Venus as with a safety razor it takes longer shaving to avoid nicks. But I’ll stick with the safety razor as my conscience can’t switch back now). I love it if the safety razor brand I have, sold the razors it came with separately as they’ve been the kindest. I’m not sure if the brand I’m using at the moment is cruelty free, however buying them local is cheaper than buying online. 10 blades for less than €2! Crazy! But they come plastic and cardboard wrap and in a tiny plastic case!
This one’s unintentional. My love of Korean skincare’s not waning and I’ve noticed more natural Korean brands are using glass bottles. I’m not use if this is because I opt for natural ingredients and cruelty free products that glass goes along with that ethic, or glass is better for keeping the ingredients more stable. Either way less plastic waste. Just the plastic lids, stoppers and cardboard boxes and glass jars to recycle.
I say no to freebies in Sephora and any other place that offers freebie products unless I know it’s something I’m going to use. I get odd remarks and looks back. It’s free! Don’t you want it? No! I’m not going to use it. You keep it!
After watching The True Cost on Netflix, a documentary highlighting the cost fast fashion, notably workers rights and the environmental cost, I’ve been more conscious of where I shop. This one’s hard. Money only goes so far and I’ve been shopping in HM and Zara as winter approaches. HOWEVER!!!, I’m check the item’s quality vs price, ask if I really need it, will it wash well, etc. 9/10 I leave it behind. I also look for items I can wear for a few seasons which is the issue I have about some of the brands recommended on The True Cost Buy Better. There’s still waste even though they use less water, electricity etc in production. Many items are fashion (or the opposite, fuddy duddy) which people probably won’t wear next season. The items will then probably end up in landfill if they’re not recycled into new fibres. This was highlighted in Christina Dean’s Ted Talk, You Are What You Wear and by Justine Leconte (I can’t find the exact video she mentioned it in but she’s an advocate for sustainable fashion).
Summer it’s easier to for me to choose more environment friendly fibres. The winter it’s harder. Being vegan I choose to not wear wool, or other animal fibres, opting for man made fibres. Man made end up in the water system via laundering. Every time an item made of man made fibres is washed, tiny filaments are released into the water system working their way gradually up the food chain. I can’t win. And I’m still don’t want to shop second hand clothes.
In the winter I wear small cross over bags (in the summer I use a cotton tote in addition to a rucksack. No boob divide! In the winter my coat hides it!). Usually I go for a vegan leather aka plastic bag. However most look cheap and I don’t want to wear leather so I’m a little stuck this winter. I get bored of bags easily so when I say bye to it, it’s not biodegradable. Same with ankle boots. I’m after a new pair but don’t want plastic for the same reasons and also breathability. Leather’s out again. I’m probably going to stick with winter weight trainers like last year.
I’ve switched my window/mirror cleaner to a white wine vinegar with a dab of washing up liquid diluted with water solution in the previous window cleaner bottle. So far it’s working better.
I’m gradually switching out notebooks with plastic covers and plastic spirals for paper only notebooks or paper with a metal spiral. I’m not sure what I’m going to to do when it comes to replacing pens. I like ballpoint pens. Foundation pens are an option but I don’t like them and I know some ballpoint pens are made of biodegradable materials biodegrade materials. A few companies make bamboo pens and some you can refill. I’m sure there’s some plastic involved, but way less than what I’m currently writing with. It’s finding them in Spain to avoid the plastic wrap shipping. Otherwise it’s pencils! I’ll keep you updated!
I get horrified at the amount of packaging on YouTube reveals and hauls. Seriously horrified. It’s too much!
When I run on the beaches at times I’m forever stopping to pick up plastic bags, crisp packets, plastic bottle lids, beer 6 pack rings, ear bud/Q-tip sticks (I’ve since found cardboard stick ear buds once I realised what the plastic sticks were) etc and placing them in the beach recycling bins. I get weird looks. Whatever.
The Minimalists documentary on Netflix had an impact. It’s a similar theory to Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying. Less stuff you have, the more you feel free. I now do weekly declutters, try not to replace what I’m throwing out, freeing up space. Most gets donated to charity. It’s a great feeling the free space you’ve created and not having other items take up that space. Just like walking away from noisy items out shopping. Things I don’t really need.
Do you zero waste or trying to lead a more zero waste lifestyle? Please share tips in the comments below!