Sadly, I am not a zero waster. I tried to use reusable nappies and failed. My house is full of cheap plastic tat from children’s magazines. I do online shopping, with all the packaging that entails. I’ve just got back from an overseas holiday where all of our water came from giant plastic water bottles. But I’m trying, really, I am. And I’m getting better. Small steps are better than none, right? With that in mind, here are a few things I’m doing to live more sustainably.
1) I got a Keep Cup. Did you know that take away coffee cups are not recyclable!? I had no idea. When I think of the hundreds (thousands?) of cups I’ve thrown into the recycling, all totally unrecyclable, I feel very sad! Our local coffee shop started selling these, and it seemed like a no brainier to buy one. The first cup of coffee was free, then I got 20p off any future cups of coffee I get there. Considering I go there at least once a week, that adds up pretty quickly!
2) I carry a water bottle everywhere, usually two. Plastic water bottles are recyclable, but they are so unnecessary in this country. I have a water bottle for me and one for Theo and they both live under the buggy and get filled up from the tap every day. It’s so easy, I don’t even think about it anymore.
3) I got a bamboo toothbrush. I really wasn’t sure if I was going to like this, because I’ve used the same brand of toothbrush for well over 10 years, but actually I love it. It works just as well and it’s beautiful, plus, when I’m done, it can go in the compost. I’ve also ordered some eco toothpaste that comes in a glass jar. In terms of flavour, it’s actually pretty good and my teeth do FEEL clean once I’ve used it. The only trouble is that it doesn’t foam and is BROWN, which I know is because there are no added colours etc, but still isn’t very appetising. I need to book myself in for a dentist appointment soon, so if all is well with them after that, I’ll be using it long term. It’s based on baking soda, which I know is a tried and trusted tooth cleaning method, so I feel pretty confident about it.
4) I bought some Cheeky Wipes. If there is ONE thing you do, if you have kids, I’d suggest getting some reusable wipes. It’s AMAZING how many fewer wipes we use now. I got a set for hands and faces, for meal times, and a set for Beatrice’s bum. The hands and face ones are amazing. I use one wipe after each meal, rinse and then toss in the washing machine. For Bee’s bum, I use one or two, rinse them under hot water and then toss in the machine. I hang them out to dry, and so far, they are still white as white can be. I’m not sure what will happen when she starts solids (any ideas? Not sure I’ll be happy rinsing those out by hand!) but for now, it works for us. I still use disposable wipes when out and about, but our wipe consumption has gone down from a pack a week, at least, to maybe a pack a month or less. That’s huge. They seemed a bit pricey at first (£25 for both), but they’ll pay for themselves soon enough (especially as we start weaning in a couple of months – wipe intake is likely to triple!)
5) I will only use soap bars. I do have some liquid soap that I’m finishing up, but once that’s done, I’ll be using bar soap that comes packaging free. What I haven’t done is research which bars themselves are eco friendly. I’m pretty sure my old favourite Dove bars are not (and their current ad campaign makes me want to boycott them anyway), so I’ve got some from Neals Yard, who seem to use all natural ingredients, don’t test on animals, etc. I also tried out a shampoo and conditioner bar from Lush while on holiday. It smells amazing, but my hair felt pretty rough. But then that could have been because I forgot my hairbrush and didn’t have a hair dryer! I’ll try it again once my bottles have finished.
6) Handkerchiefs. June is a miserable time for my hay fever. Rather than going through boxes of tissues, I stole some of Beatrice’s muslins and used them as hankies, which go into the washing machine. I can’t decide if this is genius or gross, but it’s certainly reduced my need for disposable tissues.
7) I’ve significantly cut down my meat consumption. We were eating it in some form pretty much every day. Now, as a family we have a day or two meat-free each week, and I personally probably only eat meat 3 or 4 times a week, and I’d like to reduce it further still. I’ve found some great recipes, which means I don’t miss it at all, but I need more! Any favourites?
8) One thing I’ve converted to are Beeswax Wraps. A friend swears by them, and so I thought I’d give them a go. They are great! They wrap over the top of bowls and plates, replacing cling film in the fridge. I’ve also started putting a baking tray over baking dishes when cooking, instead of using tinfoil, in an attempt to reduce my consumption of that.
9) I’ve also made a decision to buy as much as I can second hand. If I need something, I visit the local charity shop or go to eBay and filter to show auctions only. This is harder than expected, because although you can pretty much find anything on eBay, you can’t try and return, like you can the main retailers online, and sometimes I have a very specific idea of what I want; if it doesn’t match up, it’s a pain to have to either give up that cash or relist it. If you’re an eBay expert, please let me know your tips!
Other things I’ve been thinking of trying, but really want to hear from a “real person” about, rather than just reading online reviews: have you used a Moon cup? What is IN Thinx underwear that makes them work? Do they work? Do soap nuts clean clothes well? What do they smell like? Any recommendations for a good packaging free moisturiser? How about some good lip balm?
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