It is officially Plastic Free July!
I have been slowly transitioning into a more low waste lifestyle for a while now, and there have been ups and downs. And as I have said multiple times, Zero Waste can be very overwhelming, and pictures of perfect pantries, and mason jars that contain five years of trash can make it seem completely unattainable for someone with other things to do in their lives.
I have found that working towards a more low waste lifestyle means taking small, incremental steps, and switching out products as a finish them is much less overwhelming. I have been focusing on these tiny changes for a while now, and I have written about it a million times:
- My Biggest Zero Waste Mistakes
- Zero Waste in a Corporate World
- Zero Waste Survival Kit
- The Journey to Zero Waste
All of these switches have meant that I am creating less waste, and I essentially throw much less out, which is fantastic. But they are also not intimidating, because they are baby, easy steps!
My biggest take away from my transition to low waste can be broken down to three parts.
- It has to be cheap
- It was to be an easy swap into my routine
- It was to be accessible
These are some of the best ones I have found lately:
1) Beeswax instead of cloth snack bags: One of the biggest challenges in going low waste is definitely the kitchen, because plastic is commonly used for storage, and you need to store food to live. Replacing glad wrap with beeswax wrap was the easiest transition for me personally, and not only do I use it for general storage, it’s also a great replacement for plastic zip lock bags. Although they are initially expensive, it’s quite easy to make your own and they are more useful than glad wrap.
2) Using baking soda and vinegar instead of traditional cleaning products: I was really nervous about transitioning to ‘clean’ cleaning products, because I thought they wouldn’t work and I would end up with a filthy house and some sort of disease from mould in my house or something. Growing up, my mum had always been fastidious about cleaning, so naturally, when I moved out, I just copied her. But when I looked into it, I realised I didn’t feel comfortable pouring some of those noxious chemicals down the drain, I didn’t want to kill any coral! I have started using vinegar and baking soda to clean my bathroom, and despite my initial worries, it doesn’t smell bad and it does a great job. Another positive is that it’s much cheaper.
3) A Make Up Eraser instead of disposable Make Up Wipes: I used to use those disposable cotton rounds and bottled make up remover to take off my make up, but adding it all up, that amounted to a fair bit of waste. I bought the ‘make up eraser’ from Sephora (even though it came in plastic 😡 ) It works really well with just water, and its about two years old, and works really well and also washes well in the washing machine. I also stopped using dedicated make up remover and now I use coconut oil, which actually works much better, especially on liquid eye liner. It was easy to fit into my routine, it was cheap and durable.
4) Not eating chewing gum anymore because it has plastic in it: I got a very rude shock when I realised that chewing gum has plastic in it. Chewing gum, the stuff that you put in your mouth and sometimes swallow, has plastic in it. That horrified me enough to stop using it entirely. If I want to freshen my breath, I usually drink peppermint tea, clean my teeth or drink water.
5) Buying in bulk instead of buying individually packaged items: When I can afford it and it’s convenient, and I do acknowledge that it’s not always convenient, I try and avoid plastic packaging and buy from bulk bins. If you’re meal planning and go to the store with your containers and a plan, it is a great alternative, but it can be a challenge. This is definitely one I want to work on.
6) Cast Iron Pans (from a thrift store): The best saucepan I have ever owned was $2.50 from a church sale, It is glorious. Non-stick pans are usually coated with Teflon, which releases fumes when on high hear that can kill birds. Using stainless steel or cast iron is just as easy to use and clean!
7) I swapped out all plastic straws with metal straws: This is probably the most popular zero-waste swap of the moment, and I personally just have a little straw on my keyring, but honestly you don’t even need that. You can just ask for no straw with a drink order!
8) I have an at home compost bin in my freezer which I put in the community garden on the weekends instead of throwing my food scraps away in the trash: Organic waste can’t decompose in landfill because it is not properly aerated, and 20% of emissions are from landfills. So I have been trying to compost, which has also made my trash bag much smaller. I would love to find a more elegant solution, because this is not exactly convenient, so if you have a composting hack please let me know!
9) I switched from coffee pods to press coffee: I didn’t throw out my coffee pod machine, but my brother was very excited to have a coffee machine present! I started using a press machine, and it makes a lot less plastic waste, and is also a lot cheaper.
10) Swapping Sponges: I used to clean my dishes with a plastic scrubber, and now I use a bamboo scrubber that does the exact same job with the minimal footprint!
11) Swapping my plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one: I have tried this one before, and I have written about it here and I DID NOT LIKE IT. However, I am a converted woman, the medium bamboo brush is so much better and does a great job! It also freaks me out that every plastic toothbrush ever created (and they have been around since the 1930s) is still on the planet, that’s gross.
- Natural sponge instead of a plastic sponge
- Metal safety razor instead of a plastic one
- Silk dental floss instead of plastic dental floss
- Deodorant in glass jars instead of plastic deodorant
- Remove plastic from my personal care routine
- Eliminating plastic from my pantry
If you have any suggestions on how to eliminate these things, I would love to hear about it in the comments below!
How are you approaching plastic free July?