Updated: Mar 1, 2019
Forget about the ‘zero’ in Zero Waste. It is just a catchy term driven by the media to spread awareness and call for attention.
Zero is impossible, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do anything. Going ‘cold turkey’ might work for some, although most of the time it doesn’t last very long. To achieve real change, we need to take small, sustainable steps. Steps that can become part of our routine and eventually an unnoticed, effortless act of everyday life.
Start with changes within your home and grow from there. I read this great advice somewhere that a good way to start is to go through each room and write down all the plastic that you can see and you are using regularly. See if you can swap them with a plastic free alternative, one by one. If you want this to work and you happen to be a parent, I recommend staying away from your kid’s bedroom or their stuff generally... This is, of course a joke, because what we are aiming to minimise (at first at least) is the all-evil-single-use-plastic.
Here you can read about the swaps that we made in our kitchen. All this had been a gradual and gentle process, and I am happy to say that they all stuck with us and feel a lot more effortless, than they did at first.
Kitchen * Change washing up brushes and sponges for natural alternatives (like coconut husk or loofah)
* Swap to cleaning products that can be refilled. If refills are not available near you, try to find natural alternatives or ones that have little, easily recyclable packaging.
Instead of washing up liquid, try a Marseille soap. They’re very versatile and last for ages, although it’s a bit of a research to find one without palm oil. Don’t give up.
Instead of laundry powder, you can try soap nuts or if they’re not your thing, go for an Ecoegg. Ecoeggs have little pellets inside that you need to refill every once in a while, but the packaging is still minimal. They are also very wallet-friendly, as you can buy a year’s worth of refills for under £10. You don’t really need fabric softener with them, but we use some essential oils for a little, gentle scent.
Other cleaning products can be refilled too, or you can try to make your own multipurpose spray with citrus peels, apple cider vinegar and water. It works great for us for most surfaces, but if I need to clean some tougher lime scale off the sink, I first cover it with bicarbonate of soda for a couple minutes, before the vinegar. That does the trick!)
* Use reusable/washable towels instead of paper towels.
* Use wax (bees or soy) wraps instead of cling film.
* Shop dry goods unpackaged (online or in physical shop, if you are lucky enough to live near one)
* Shop fruits and veggies unpackaged (form supermarkets, farmers markets or consider joining a veg box scheme. Veg boxes are great for reducing unwanted and frankly unnecessary packaging, and they can also give you a little creative push to make dishes other than your usual suspects. There are plenty of schemes available for a wide variety of needs and budgets to fit.)
* Consider reducing your meat, fish and dairy intake (this will reduce your carbon footprint too. Win-win!) When you do, try to buy from fish mongers, butchers, supermarket counters, taking your own tubs and wraps.
* If you end up buying some packaged bits, try to go for the ones that have minimal, recyclable packaging.
Don’t make yourself feel bad, just because you bought a Tetra Pak or because you treated your kids or yourself to some ice cream!
Be Kind to Yourself! By doing any of the above suggestions, you are already keeping hundreds of single use plastics out of landfill and away from our oceans, so please give yourself some praise. You are doing a great job!