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I’m trying my best to reduce my carbon footprint. My goal is to reduce the amount of waste I produce as much as possible. This means avoiding single-use plastics and moving towards a zero waste lifestyle.
Moving towards a zero waste lifestyle is not that easy. I find that it is extremely difficult to go just one day without using single-use plastics – it is so deeply woven in our daily lives. Most things I want to buy come wrapped in layers of plastic.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying all plastics are bad. I think plastic is a great invention and it has helped us make a lot of handy items that enhance our lives. However, what’s not so great is the single-use plastics – bags, cups, package – that get thrown away after one use and stays on the earth forever.
This past year, I’ve made a solid effort towards a zero waste lifestyle. It’s not yet perfect and I still consume way more plastic in my day-to-day life than I’d like.
In this post, I am going to document all the efforts I’ve taken so far to go zero waste. I will also explain what worked well and what didn’t work so well.
I hope you will take some inspiration from me to go a little more eco-friendly. Every little measure counts.
Here’s a list of 10+ items that I started using to eliminate plastic from my life!
1. Bamboo toothbrush
Why: It is recommended by dentists to change your toothbrush every 3 months for optimal oral hygiene. I could no longer justify throwing out a piece of plastic every 3 months. The plastic will end up somewhere in a landfill or in the ocean and last forever.
What I did: I bought an eight-pack of bamboo toothbrushes with charcoal bristles. These toothbrushes can be composted and I don’t have to worry about waste building up!
These toothbrushes are made of all natural products! Also, they look pretty damn fancy compared to a regular plastic toothbrush!
Another plus is that these toothbrushes don’t cost that much more than a plastic one!
2. Zero-waste natural toothpaste
Why: If I have to estimate, I go through a tube of toothpaste every 6 months or so. Again, an unjustifiable waste object that I did not want to continue producing.
On top of that, I found that toothpaste contains many toxic chemicals, harmful to the body as well as to the environment. If I’m brushing my teeth twice daily, I want to know that I am using something that won’t have long-term health effects.
What I did: I bought a toothpaste that is zero waste and made of all natural ingredients. It comes in a glass jar with a metal lid (hence, zero waste since both can be recycled).
The toothpaste itself tastes kind of salty and I have no proof whether it has improved my dental hygiene or not. However, I do like knowing that it’s 100% natural and I know what ingredients are inside. Another downside is the cost, this is obviously a much more expensive option.
3. Aluminum-free natural deodorant
Why: I didn’t want to throw away a piece of plastic every time I use up my deodorant! Also, most household deodorants/antiperspirants contain aluminum. I no longer wanted to put something harmful on my skin and sought a natural solution.
What I did: I bought a 100% natural deodorant. I admit, it smells great. However, it runs out pretty quickly and is a lot more expensive than regular deodorant.
Also, it’s less potent. I think it stops working after a few hours versus my old deodorant that lasted 24 hours. So, I have to come to terms that some days I’ll just smell a bit even though I’ve put my deodorant on. Overall, I’d say that if you don’t sweat an excessive amount, this is a good option. You may have to reapply often if you sweat a lot!
Natural deodorant is also a lot more expensive than regular deodorant, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay!
4. Cotton handkerchief
Why: Using tissue/napkins whenever I need to blow my nose or wipe my mouth was starting to add up. I just couldn’t justify throwing away so many tissues and napkins! I was feeling guilty! That, and sometimes you just don’t happen to have any clean tissues on hand!
What I did: I bought a set of cute, reusable handkerchiefs which I use for everything. I have one at my desk for when I eat. I have one in my pocket which I carry with me whenever I’m on the go. I keep another one in my backpack.
I feel a lot better knowing that I can wash and reuse these handkerchiefs instead of wasting thousands of napkins! It’s also more economical in the long run!
5. Bamboo cutlery
Why: Whenever I eat out, I am given a disposable plastic fork, spoon, and knife. I wanted to reduce the amount of one-time use cutlery that I was wasting.
What I did: I bought a set of bamboo reusable cutlery. It’s lightweight, durable, and won’t get squished in my bag! Also comes with a keyring for ease of carrying.
The only downside is that sometimes I forget to bring it with me or to clean it before I use it again 😛
6. Detergent and cleaning products
Why: Detergent and a lot of household cleaning supplies have harmful chemicals to kill bacteria. These chemicals are not always good for the environment. At the same time, I started thinking, how bad is this stuff if I keep ingesting it? I decided I needed to replace my cleaning products with something natural.
What I did: Dr. Bronner’s castille soap works wonders. It can be used as a regular shampoo/soap, but also to clean just about everything. You can use it as a soap detergent, laundry detergent, cleaning fluid, and so much more! I love this soap so much!
7. Bar shampoo and conditioner
Why: Same reason, I go through shampoo bottles at rapid, lightning speed. I have long hair and have to use a lot of shampoo and conditioner to keep my hair in good shape.
What I did: I switched to bar shampoo and conditioner. I didn’t have much difficulty making the switch over to a natural shampoo and conditioner. My hair actually feels smoother now.
8. Dishwashing block soap
Why: I didn’t like using strong chemicals present in most dish soap. If you don’t rinse thoroughly enough, there will be some cleaning agent that remains in your dishes. I didn’t want to be ingesting harmful chemicals into my body that way.
What I did: I bought a no toxic dishwashing soap bar made of natural ingredients. This eliminates the plastic problem. I also get peace of mind knowing that if I do happen to leave some traces of this soap on my dishes, I won’t be ingesting some harmful chemical.
9. Beeswax food wrap
Why: I often use plastic wrap on leftover food. I realized this is just as bad as using a plastic bag or a drinking a plastic bottle of water.
What I did: I started using beeswax food wrap! It’s amazing! The beeswax is reusable! All you have to do is wash it (without soap) and it’s sticky and good to go again! The food wrap comes in super cute designs! You can find them all over Amazon for a pretty low price.
The only downside is that the cloth is quite sticky so it can get a lot of hair and dust stuck to it. That’s why you’ll have to wash it thoroughly after each use!
10. Reusable storage food bags
Why: Again, I wanted to stop using plastic for everything. When I was a kid, there was a time when my mom would pack me a sandwich everyday in a plastic Ziplock bag. I would bring it home everyday to reuse but the other kids were throwing their plastic Ziplock bags out everyday! Talk about wasteful behaviour!
What I did: I don’t use Ziplock bags anymore. I use reusable storage bags instead!
Other things that I have already eliminated in the past are:
1. Water bottle
I only drink water from the tap (it’s safe where I live)! And the Swell bottle I’ve been using for 5+ years is still holding up strong!
2. Mesh bags
For grocery shopping, I use special mesh bags to hold all produce I buy.
3. Mason jars
Instead of using Tupperware, mason jars are great for holding snacks and liquids.
4. Paper towels
I never got in the habit of using paper towels. I’ve always used a reusable towel. However, when I discovered these reusable bamboo towels, I decided to give them a try. I love these because they replace my Swiffer wet pads.
I switched over to a sea sponge instead of a regular sponge. I wasn’t happy with how my regular sponges kept falling apart, leaving microfibres going down the drain. Sea sponges last longer and are more absorbent.
6. Menstrual cup
I stopped using pads and tampons. The menstrual cup is a true lifesaver! I almost forget that I’m even on my period when I use one of these bad boys.
Things I want to eliminate eventually
I would love to find a solution for floss. Currently I am still using regular silk floss that comes in plastic containers. The main solution I’ve found is the Waterpik but I am not sure if it is as effective as real floss.
I would also love to just be able to make my own products eventually. I have started on my journey to zero waste and most of the items are purchased in stores or online because I don’t have the time to make the products from scratch.
Lastly, I would love for more eco, zero waste options in the grocery stores. It’s almost impossible to buy fruits, veggies, cereal, milk, etc without some sort of plastic wrapping. I wish supermarkets would start transitioning to more eco-friendly packaging.
I’ve been working towards zero waste and I’m pretty proud of my journey. In this article, I talk about all the products I’ve switched out, as well as some of the frustations I’ve had with certain products.
What have you been doing for your zero waste journey? Is there anything I missed that you’d like to share?
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