Millennial and Gen Z generations are fast becoming the generations with the highest awareness of environmental protection. That’s something I can be very proud to write. My generation is standing up for what we believe in and making a difference! Going to marches, starting sustainable businesses, making conscious choices. But still, not everyone is on board with this movement and incorporating these things into their everyday lives. Not because they don’t want to, but because they don’t know how. It can be daunting to try to go zero-waste, plastic-free overnight and remain so. So I thought I would share with you some of the ways in which I try to cut down on consumption and stem the tide of plastic waste in my own life.
I am by no means 100% zero waste and my journey is still that, a journey. I am aware that many blogs paint a picture of perfection when it comes to being zero-waste. Which makes it a hard thing to aspire to. But there are plenty of ways that you can start to be more conscious, that doesn’t involve revamping your entire house and shelling out your entire budget.
So come along and I’m going to go through some fun, easy and consistent ways you can transition yourself into a lower waste lifestyle and begin to have a more positive footprint on the planet.
- Avoid microbeads in hygiene products: This is a huge one. However, amongst all the publicity of things like straws and keep-cups, we have skipped over an important aspect of our everyday lives which is a serious environmental risk. Micro-beads are the small bits of plastic which are too small to be caught in grey-water filtration systems and flow straight into the oceans. These beads are too small to easily be removed from the ocean after this, and the perfect size of fish to accidentally swallow! Mircobeads are most common in things like shampoo, toothpaste and face shrubs… in fact, anything with the words “polypropylene” or “polyethylene” in will contain micro-beads. So always check your labels… especially in toothpaste as these micro-beads have been found by dentists in people’s gums. It’s not a good addition to our products for us, or for the planet!
- Reusing Everything: Many sustainability blogs seem to be sending the message that in order to be sustainable we have to have all the new and trendy gear. But myself, I am a big believer that reusing and recycling is always better than consuming… yes, even if that consuming is from ethical and sustainable brands. Buying new things creates demand and demand creates a need for more material and this leads to more consumption of Earth’s limited resources. So instead of believing that you need a bento box to take lunch to work or you need some wonderful recycled plastic freezer boxes, use what you already have. Freeze things in old zip lock bags and then wash them and reuse. Pack your lunch into old spread jars or Tupperware that you’ve already brought. If you already own plastics and non-degradable products, keep using them and just use them for as long as possible. When you must replace them, do so in a more sustainable form.
- DIY your beauty: Seriously this is one of the most rewarding and satisfying parts of this journey for me. I love love love to make my own beauty products. I know some of you might be wondering if I’m going to tell you to make products which are extremely expensive for your self-care. I’m not. It can be so cheap and easy to give yourself a good self-care routine. For example, I use light rye flour mixed with water to wash my hair ( a trick I learned in France, where it’s becoming incredibly common). In fact,you can even go without a hair washing routine all together according to the No-Poo site but I haven’t tried this and am aware that it may not work for everyone, as our physiology has likely changed a bit since pre-industry. This article is a good read if you’re interested in the theories which no-poo washing is based on. You can also easily DIY any hygiene products from toothpaste to toner! So go and get creating something… it’s a lot of fun!
- Loo Roll: Toilet paper has always troubled me! Even as a child, I was aware of how much paper we used all the time and how it all came from trees. Luckily now there are more and more brands which source recycled paper for their products. These are a great step in the right direction, so if this is all that’s available then it’s a wonderful place to start. But what is even better is using toilet paper that doesn’t even involve trees to begin with. For our U.S readers,there are some great brands available online, such as that offered by Pure Planet Club or Grove Collaborative, who source bamboo and sugar cane pulp for their loo roll. In New Zealand, there is a company called Smartass, which provides the same in NZ.
So there you have it. Just a few small ideas to help get you started on a lower waste lifestyle without the pressure of going cold-turkey immediately. The goal is always to be zero-waste or as low waste as possible. But it’s my belief that many people doing what they can and truly truly trying, is what makes the biggest difference. So this is your sign, there is no pressure attached to this, just some ideas and a little challenge to you to try out as many of these as possible. Best of luck!
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Photo: Vivianne Lemay – Unsplash; Ella Olsson – Unsplash; Fikri Rasyid – Unsplash.