If you’ve read any books about zero waste at home, you’re probably aware that the transformation process takes quite a while and requires a lot of dedication. Don’t despair! I’m going to share the Top 10 quick wins that we adopted at home. These tips helped us quickly reduce our waste and really motivated us to continue. Are you up for it?
1. Use a stainless steel or aluminium water bottle
To avoid buying bottled water in plastic I recommend always carrying your own water bottle. You will be reduce waste and save money. Our favourites are the aluminum bottles by SIGG Switzerland. Everyone in our household has their own. They have been made in Switzerland since 1908 and are super lightweight!
2. Buy your fruit and veggies without plastic bags or polystyrene trays
Instead of wasting dozens of plastic bags each time you do your grocery shopping, I recommend the Verdonce Natural jute mesh produce bags. They are sustainable, keep produce fresher and you can use them over and over again.
3. Take your own bag when you go to buy bread or pastries
Cotton and linen bags are an ideal option. Not only will you avoid using plastic or paper bags but your bread or pastries will keep for longer. I really encourage you to explore your local bakeries. You’ll be surprised by the positive reaction you get.
4. Buy your food unpackaged from bulk stores to avoid a lot of unnecessary packaging
I really recommend doing your regular grocery shopping in bulk stores that sell produce loose. You can take your own jars, cloth bags or containers and purchase the exact amount you want or need. This way, you will drastically cut down unnecessary packaging and waste less food as well.
5. Use a natural fibre dishcloth
Natural fibre dishcloths made from jute or luffa are long lasting, heavy duty and fully compostable at the end of their useful life. This is a small but significant win for the environment. Synthetic dishcloths and sponges cannot be recycled and generate microplastics with use that go straight down your sink.
6. Stop using plastic straws
They are really not necessary, you can drink any beverage without a straw. Of course they can be useful if you have a health condition. In those circumstances I recommend using stainless steel straws or bamboo, rather than disposable plastic. Don’t forget to tell waiters or bartenders that you don’t want a straw when ordering drinks – they have become so ubiquitous over the last few years that it’s easy to get caught out!
7. Switch to a bamboo toothbrush
Another quick win is to switch to using bamboo toothbrushes, instead of plastic or electric. They are readily available and avoid a tonne of plastic waste. We found that the feel of bamboo was a little strange in the mouth to start with, but we got used to them after a few weeks. Now we don’t notice the difference and our children use them too.
8. Use solid shampoo and bars of soap for hands and body
This is a change you’ll really like, there are so many amazing shampoo bars available that are great for your hair. You will reduce a lot of unnecessary plastic bottles and save space in your bathroom as well. Same is true of shower gels and hand soap. With a simple bar of soap or two you will get rid of a shelf full of products.
9. Start using cloth napkins
Forget paper kitchen rolls. I once calculated that we got through 500 pieces of paper kitchen towel per month which amounts to a fair few rolls. From that moment we decided to use good old cloth napkins at mealtimes. You won’t believe what a relief it is not to have to worry about running out of paper towels or serviettes. We recommend distinguishing each family member’s napkin with a nametag, a simple mark on the label or using different colours. Wash once a week and you should be fine.
10. Remove makeup with a muslin cotton cloth
I totally recommend using a piece of muslin cloth to remove makeup instead of disposable removal pads. Muslin cloth is just so much gentler on your skin.
With all of these tips you will reduce waste and in many cases save space, declutter, save money and have a more pleasant experience. I hope to have inspired on your journey towards a sustainable lifestyle. Of course this is very personal to your unique circumstances, but we think that many of these tips are pretty universal. Got ideas you’d like to share? Feel free to share your best tips and experiences in the comments below.