left to right, top to bottom: soap nuts, kleen kanteen water bottle, cotton tote bag, drawstring bag, solid soap, lush shampoo bar, reuseable coffee cup, steel lunchbox, safety razor, bamboo toothbrush, reusable makeup wipes.
In this post I want to discuss some of the things that have really helped me to produce less waste. I have been compiling these items for almost a year, so please do not think you must buy everything at once. Make it affordable and sustainable for you, as well as the planet!
An all natural, bio-degradable, laundry detergent. You simply put four nuts into the little bag provided, and these last for 4 washes. Then, simply compost them! I add essential oils to the bag for fragrance.
Reusable water bottle
I chose a Kleen Kanteen bottle, as it is made from sustainable materials like stainless steel, with a bamboo cap and small silicone ring. It is around £20 on Amazon, so not the cheapest, but there are much cheaper ones available to suit all budgets. I take this bottle everywhere. I always have a packed lunch, and just throw it in my bag on days out so I’m never left without a drink. Bringing a reusable bottle is one of the best choices you can make!
Reusable tote bag
Reusable bags are another amazing way to reduce your impact. I have collected quite a few over the years, often at Vegfest. It’s a great opportunity to support your favourite charity or artist, while saving the planet. These bags have endless uses, and a huge life span.
This is my potato bag, hence it’s dirty appearance! The best way to avoid fruit and veg packaging is to go to your local green grocer, or farmer’s market, or unpackaged items in the supermarket – that’s where these drawstring bags really come in handy. My mum and I made this one from an old pillowcase, simply by cutting it in half, hemming the edges, then folding them over and sewing it, so there was a small tunnel to feed some canvas ribbon through. I will do a full post on this if it’s wanted! There are always plenty of pillowcases in charity shops if you don’t have one lying around, or many shops stock pre-made versions.
This is the newest edition to my kit! I bought it in an amazing local shop called Ethica in Plymouth. It wasn’t completely package free, as it came wrapped in paper, but it is recyclable. Bar/solid soap is a great switch to reduce your plastic packaging, and you can find amazing, local, handmade soap on Etsy, or a local health shop like I did. The cosmetics industry bombards us daily with ten different products that actually all do the same thing. Soap is soap! Use it on your hands, face, body, hair, to shave, to clean clothes… the list goes on. It feels very liberating to break free from 101 different products.
In the UK, our selection of ‘bulk’ stores are almost exclusively in London, but luckily LUSH is doing a great job in providing us with package free cosmetics. I bought the tin with my first shampoo bar, and now I take it back every time – easy and package free!
Reusable coffee cup
Although I don’t drink coffee, I often pack this cup just in case a disposable might be used, such as outdoor events or lazy cafes. This is another amazing change to make, and some shops will even give you money off for bringing your own!
Bringing your own lunch is a fail safe way to save money and the environment. I bought two of these stainless steel lunchboxes on Amazon to start off my collection. I also use the plastic tubs that you get takeaway in, as they are a perfect portion size! They are great to store leftovers in (no cling film needed here), freeze portions of a bulk meal, and generally handy around the house for storage.
If you shave, you might like to consider a safety razor. The razor is stainless steel, and the blades are replaceable and recyclable, or you can sharpen them! I don’t use my very often, but I can say it’s very smooth and easy to use, and I’ve only had one cut from it!
Plastic toothbrushes are non-recyclable, and are one of the worst offenders for polluting the oceans. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on the planet, and does not require fertiliser or chemicals as it provides this for itself naturally. It also has antibacterial properties, and is compostable, making this a wonderful, sustainable solution.
Reusable makeup wipes
This was my very first zero waste switch! After looking in my bin at what I was throwing away, I saw most of it was face wipes. I go onto Etsy, and found so many different options, all UK based. I settled on these organic cotton and hemp pads, and haven’t looked back. You will need a makeup remover such as an oil, or store brought, and then just dab on and wipe off. I wash them by hand with some Dr Bronners soap when they get dirty and dry them on my radiator. Quick, easy, simple planet saving solution.