With all the things happening in the world at the moment I think it’s important that we do our bit to help out the environment. Even if you just take one thing from this list, you’re helping the environment in a way you can’t imagine. As the saying goes, it takes many people to do zero waste imperfectly, rather than one person doing it perfectly.
Take your own bags
I know in New Zealand; plastic bags have been banned from supermarkets – but this isn’t the case for all countries. Besides there’s much more than the supermarket to worry about! Each time you go to the mall, to the dairy, to the pharmacy, pretty much anywhere you go to buy something, take your own bags! You’ll be saving unnecessary waste either way, whether it’s plastic or paper bags.
Use your own takeaway cup and containers
This is a super easy one if you plan in advance! Taking your own coffee cup to get your coffee, even if this isn’t a daily routine, is still totally worth it. I’d highly recommend investing in one, and some places even give you a discount for using your own cup too. Same goes for takeaways, if you save up some containers. And it’s not just coffee cups, you can take our own container for your muffin or scone too. Speaking of containers, it’s always great if you can take your own container for your takeout too. It pays to ask if you can first, but it’s a great way to save on extra packaging or plastic when you use the packaging you already have at home first.
Use alternatives for wrapping
There are lots of alternatives these days for so many different types of wrapping. The first one being gladwrap or cling film. Some of my favourites are simply containers, beeswax wraps or snack pouches. It’s even better if you’re able to get these products from small local businesses who handmade them. The second is wrapping paper. Wrapping paper cannot be recycled as it is coated with plastic, and let’s be real, it is a bit of a waste when there are lots of alternate options out there. You could try making your own wrapping paper by using your children’s drawings or by doing a bit of art. Not only will it be saving waste but it’ll be so much more meaningful with the time and thought you’ve put into presenting it. Another idea is to use fabric bags, again see if any local handmade businesses sell these, or you could have a go at making them yourself too.
DIY your own cleaning and personal care products
This is one that takes a bit of time at first, but I promise you once you start doing it, you won’t go back! I would recommend starting off with one or two products and then working your way upwards. There are loads of free DIY recipes online using basic ingredients you probably already have in your pantry, or you can easily source. Some of the most useful ingredients you can have for these DIY products is baking soda, white vinegar and castile soap. If you invest in these 3 ingredients, there will be tons of things you can make!
Get your fruit, vegetables and herbs from local sources
Of course, the best local source would be your own garden, so if it’s possible get some fruit, veges and herbs in your own garden. It’s still great though if you can support your local growers by sourcing your fruit, vegetables and herbs from your local farmers market. Aside from farmers markets, there are also a few other options – community pantries are a great way to share excess produce with your neighbours, not to mention neighbourhood groups on social media where sharing food is common.
Buy second hand
Buying second hand is really beneficial to saving waste because you are reusing resources that have already been created. There are lots of op shops out there with a range of items from clothes, homewares, culinary items, toys and books. Not only does buying second hand save the environment, but it’s also helpful for your bank too. These days there are also online op shop options – websites, Facebook pages and Instagram accounts have all been created just for second hand items, so it’s always accessible.
I know composting isn’t for everyone, and isn’t always possible, but there a few different options you can look at. A bokashi compost bin is a great place to start if you’re new or just short on space. This small indoor compost bin can be stored away in a cupboard and won’t take too much work to look after. If you have a bit more time and space, and outdoor compost or a worm farm could be worth looking into.
Shop at bulk food stores
Bulk food stores are great for reducing your waste and your spending all in one. You can even use your own containers and bags to put things too, win win! Buying in bulk means that you pay less for your items in the long run and spend less time as you have a larger supply of these items to last. Bulk food stores also offer a range of products such as liquid soap, shampoo and washing powder – so if you’re not keen on making your own just yet, at least you can refill your containers.
Homemade cooking and baking
Making homemade food is great for you and the environment. By making things from scratch you avoid all the packing and you know exactly what is going into your food. A great place to start is baking, whether its baking for school lunches or dessert, you’ll quickly see how much you enjoy doing it. Other areas you can focus on are homemade crackers, sauces, dips, pasta, pastry, ice cream – the possibilities are endless! There are heaps of recipes available online, or check out some books from your local library, grab some inspiration and get creating!
Reusable nappies and sanitary products
Reusable nappies are easy to find these days, and although an investment at first, can save lots of money in the long run. The same goes for reusable sanitary products. There are lots of different options including menstrual cups, reusable pads, and period underwear. You can use a combination of all or just stick to one, it’s up to you and what works for your body! I appreciate that this is a hard switch to make, but even if you use these products part time, the amount of waste you save is unbelievable.
What are some of the ways you’ve switched over to a more zero waste lifestyle? Let me know in the comments below.