HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY!
I should probably come up with twenty suggestions to fit with the new decade, but the goal for this post is to suggest some Zero Waste changes that don’t completely overwhelm people, so I’m just doing twelve for ya. They come in four categories – Parents, Self-Care, Food, and Apps (do check out the awesome apps below!) – so you could look at a swap depending on your individual resolutions for this year. You could pick one of them, four of them, all of them! You could tackle one for January and build up to all ten by next year, do it at your own pace.
NB. I also deliberately put “Zero-Waste” in quotation marks, because a couple of these items do mean that I have some plastic to get rid of. I think the label “Zero-Waste” makes some people think of going off the grid, driving only electric cars and sacrificing more or all of life’s luxuries. You don’t have to do any of those things! Being “Zero-Waste” is all about trying to get absolutely everyone to cut down and moderate, not abandon their lifestyle completely. It’s about the small daily changes you can make, some of which you can find below.
1. Cloth Nappy
Probably the most money-saving investment we will ever make in our lives. A single disposable nappy take up to 500 years to decompose in landfill. Every time I type that statistic, I shudder. However, the alternative system of cloth nappies has come such a long way and, in my view, is slowly but surely becoming more mainstream. As a newborn Rawrie did start off 50/50 with disposables, but is now 100% in cloth day and night. We use our beloved Miosolos for day and Tots Bots Bamboozles for night. Nearly all of our nappies were actually bought second-hand from other mums for a portion of the price, less money and less waste! You don’t have to go overboard at the start. Find a couple of trial nappy kits and have a go at one cloth nappy per day. The UK Nappy Network can point you to your nearest nappy library where you can rent a kit without too much investment.
2. Cloth Baby Wipe
A single pack of wipes goes a far longer way than having to buy a pack of disposable wipes every couple of days. In our flat we have managed to accumulate a random collection of Cheeky Wipes and bamboo squares from The Nappy Gurus, which are kept in containers in our kitchen and bathroom. For going out, we have a pack of large wipes from Close Parent which are great for mopping up anything from food to pre-weaned poo. Further down the line in February I’ll be doing a proper review of both nappies and wipes, so watch this space (but also just drop a comment if you actually wanted to ask questions in advance!).
3. Second-hand Clothes
From your relatives, friends, or parents on Facebook Marketplace. Once you’ve started buying on Facebook Marketplace, you won’t want to turn back. I speak from experience. Buying clothes second-hand and giving them another life is such an easy way to reduce your child’s carbon footprint, especially when your baby is growing so fast that they seem to fit in one set of clothes for a fortnight at best. I have also seen more and more rental companies gaining popularity in this wake of “second-hand” lifestyles. The concept is flawless – you order a batch of clothes depending on your child’s age and size, you use them and wash them, and then return them to the company. Ace. Examples that spring to mind are The Little Rental Company and Bundlee.
4. Laundry Egg
I know I already raved about this in my last blog post buuuut, like nappies, I don’t think I will ever get tired of talking about my beloved Eco-Egg. It’s simply an egg case filled with mineral pellets that you throw in with your clothes. Completely natural, economical, and works on everything we’ve thrown at it. Just make sure you order a stash of refill pellets, and you’ll be sorted for a couple of years at least if you wash 2-3 times a week like we do. We also have a need to use our tumble dryer, having less space in a one-bed flat for drying clothes, so our Eco Dryer Eggs have helped reduce tumble-dryer time and energy.
5. Bamboo Toothbrush
I do love a good contextual article, so in case you do too, Alejandra Borunda’s article for National Geographic on the situation of the plastic toothbrush is very illuminating. My toothbrush was the first swap I did when we were living with housemates. I ordered a pack off Amazon for £3.99, that’s how easy it was to make the swap. Bamboo is such a sustainable option, and makes the toothbrush handle 100% compostable.
Just to give all the facts, it’s very difficult to find bamboo toothbrushes that are completely plastic-free. Most, like the ones I have, have bristles that are at least 33.3% plastic and are therefore not biodegradable. They are technically recyclable, there’s just a certain way to deal with old toothbrushes in order to gain maximum environmental friendliness. There are ways you could reuse the toothbrush heads that I’ve seen online eg use an old head to clean your taps, or upcycle to a marker in your vegetable pots.
6. Soap Bar
Another real easy swap is to ditch your plastic bottles of liquid shower gel for an unpackaged soap bar. This doesn’t have to be an expensive swap. My first online zero-waste order from the Plastic Free Pantry included a 4-pack of Faith in Nature Aloe Vera Soaps at £1.60 each, which smelled beautiful and lasted a long time for me and Alex. There are also some lovely soap companies where you can treat yourself to a bit of self-care. I’ve got my eye on the Smoothing Soap Bar from Bentley Organic which is made from oats and honey, gotta love smelling like a sweet breakfast during a shower!
7. Produce Bag
It’s so awesome that the use of plastic carrier bags has gone down 90% in the UK in the past five years, but the real problem is the absolute MOUND of plastic packaging around produce in our supermarkets. It’s nearly 1 million tonnes every year. EURGH.
For a year I’ve simply gone to the loose veg aisles and packed them into my humble produce bags from A Slice of Green. You’re only set back £5.00 for a pack of 3 linen bags. You keep them forever, as opposed to adding to the landfill with completely pointless plastic. I for one always feel incredibly satisfied pulling out my bags in my local Tesco’s, and the staff have never had a problem with me using them instead of see-through bags.
8. Coffee Cup
Probably the swap I see the most all over the Internet, but if you are fuelled by coffee like I am these days, you’ll probably get your money’s worth after only a week of purchase. These days many coffee shops will give you a discount when you present your own cup. It definitely adds up after you’ve used it at least a dozen times!
There are now debates going on about the best materials for your coffee cup. Bamboo cups are now under scrutiny for not being the best sustainable option, because they contain melamine resin (a not-so-sustainable plastic glue mix which isn’t great for your kidneys). I will always recommend my glass Keep Cup which looks beautifully natural – made of glass, cork, and BPA-free plastic. Not recommended to test this, but I have dropped it a couple of heart-stopping times and it has survived so far!
9. Weekly Veg Box
I. Just. LOVE Vegetable boxes. There’s just nothing wrong with them. You get a variety of produce and I really do think it helps with meal planning and saving money. We’ve made such a thing of waiting for our box to arrive and planning simple, hearty meals based on the produce inside. We’ve discovered lots of new recipes and we’ve found we’re popping out far less to our local shop. It just ticks all the boxes. If you’re in London, there’s just so many different companies now. I guess choosing one depends on your priorities. Do you value organic produce? Or UK-grown? Or are you specifically looking to reduce food waste?
Oddbox is our absolute perfect box. The company’s goal is to take fruit and veg that would have gone straight to landfill for simply being the wrong shape or appearance, and sell it direct to the public. Most of the produce comes from the UK, which is a big priority for me. Out of all the London boxes it’s the cheapest we’ve got – a small box of 7 veg and 3 fruit sets you back £11.49, which I’ve found is always cheaper than getting the equivalent in our local Tesco’s. We’ve been Oddbox-ers since October and we’ve had three items in plastic wrapping, which doesn’t bother me too much when I think of all the food we’re saving. I also love the little newsletters that come with each box. You find out exactly where the produce is from and why they were rejected, often for just being the wrong size! Only once did we get some kind of fascinating conjoined-twin carrot situation, and it still went in our soup for the week.
10. Too Good To Go
Apps are just the way to do a resolution, all on your phone without moving off your sofa! Too Good to Go is one of my favourite discoveries from last year. It deals with the very scary statistics of food waste – a horrible 33.33% of all food is wasted and contributes to 8% of greenhouse gases when it’s gone to landfill.
If you download Too Good to Go, it will provide a list of your local cafe’s and restaurants that have signed up to offer customers a ‘Magic Bag’ at their closing time. This bag contains food that they have not sold that day and would’ve gone to waste. The food is heavily discounted and you’ve got yourself a cheap surprise meal! You do have to collect the Magic Bag at a certain time (sometimes as late as 22:30) so sometimes it does require a bit of planning/last-minute-ness but Alex and I have got a lot out of it. If we want a takeaway we go to the app first rather than to Just Eat, and we used it to discover a delicious local Sri Lankan place on New Year’s Eve.
Oh my gosh guys, doing a green swap really doesn’t come much easier than this. Ecosia is a search engine that works exactly like Google, except they use their profit from ad-clicks to plant trees and manage amazing projects in local communities, tackling deforestation across the world. They don’t sell your data and they use 100% renewable energy. They’re just amazing. It’s as easy as downloading the app on your phone and replacing your Safari or Google apps, and installing them on your laptop browser as your Home page. And then every internet search plants a tree! I have so far planted 181 trees on my mobile app alone, I love it!
For anyone who wants to slow down their fashion consumption, this app is for you. Vinted is an app where you can buy and sell second-hand clothes for incredibly good prices, and the parcels are either delivered to your door or a local collection point. You have the option of reducing your CO2 emissions by finding sellers near you in the search filters, which I always try and do. My best find has been a £25.00 dress I found on the app for £5.80 (including delivery).
Which of these was your favourite that you think you’ll try?? As I said, there is no pressure for you to convert to all these things overnight. The best kinds of Zero Waste accomplishments have been made over a long period of time at an individual’s own pace. Some things take getting used to, but once they become second-nature you can feel so much more confident in what you’re doing. Do share the love (and this post if you can) with others!