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My first zero waste swaps

Melissa Lange
Latest posts by Melissa Lange (see all)

Today I want to discuss a subject I never mentioned before. Zero Waste/ less waste. We all know there is way too many plastic. Plastic that can’t be recycled. It can end up in a landfill or the ocean. A lot of things come in plastic, you almost can’t avoid it. Almost. 

I’ve been trying to reduce my waste the past half year. By informing others and giving an insight in what I’m doing right now to reduce my waste, I hope to inspire others to be conscious about what they’re buying and throwing away.

 

The beginning of my journey to less waste

I was disgusted by all the images of turtles choking on plastic and kilos of trash floating in the ocean. I started to read articles about reducing my waste. First swap I made: a reusable waterbottle. That’s pretty easy for me since water from the tap is drinkable in The Netherlands. It is well filtered and safe to drink. So why not quitting all the plastic water bottles you only use once or twice? There are also water bottles with a filter in it to filter the water while you drink. A good reusable water bottle can last a life time, so invest in a good one. For example one that’s made out of glass and bamboo or steel.

Shower

As you look around in your room or house, you will see a lot of things that are made out of plastic. Plastic is almost everywhere. Besides products, plastic can also be found in scrubs, shower gels, toothpaste and many more. Also, most of these products come in plastic packages. So that’s plastic, packed in plastic…

What am I doing to reduce my waste when it comes to shower sessions? First of all, don’t run to your cabinet or shower to throw away all your products that are packed in plastic or any other damaging package. Use up what you’ve got left. Otherwise you’ll be throwing out stuff to replace it with something that has the same function. That would be a waste too. Try to be more aware of what you buy in the future. Because you vote with your money. If you buy something, you’re giving a signal to the producer: “Hey, I’m fully supporting you. Here’s my money to let you continue your work (producing waste).”. Lets get back to what I changed in my shower routine. I used up all my shower products, and now I bought soap bars. It’s great that I don’t need any shampoo, so I only need one soap bar to wash my face and body with. One soap bar!!!! Can you imagine how happy I was when I had to pack for a vacation?:) There are also shaving bars. I haven’t tried one because I’m still using an aloe vera gel from Holland and Barrett. I changed my disposable razors for an safety razor and my disposable cotton pads for washable bamboo pads, both are from BamBaw. Also for my periods I’m using a menstrual cup and I’m still searching for washable/reusable sanitary napkins/pads. My toothbrush is made out of bamboo, which I can throw away in the composting bin when it has to be replaced. My toothpaste no longer comes in a plastic package, but in a glass jar. I get my dental tabs at a zero waste store. You can also look up a receipe to make your own toothpaste, it’s very cheap and works just as good.

Groceries

This is the part where I’m struggling the most. A lot of food comes in plastic. Whether it’s vegetables/fresh fruit or drinks. I don’t mind drinking less ice tea or other soft drinks, but I really enjoy soft drinks once in a few weeks. I stopped eating meat (and I’m not even missing it) because livestock is far from sustainable. Also I don’t drink milk anymore. I’m not eating vegan because I still eat products that contain milk or egg white. I hope to cut this from my diet in the future. Swaps I made for grocery shopping: bring my own reusable bags and smaller fruit nets to keep fruits and vegables together. I also choose a more sustainable product when possible (glass jar over plastic for example). Also I deny the receipt when it’s not already printed.

Travelling

I must confess I don’t travel a lot (maybe once a year) and I don’t own a car. I use my bike and public transport or ride along with friends and family when we all need to go to the same place (since they’re going to take the car either way).

Don’ts

I told you about my first steps into creating less waste, but what things do you need to avoid? Don’t run around the house to collect and throw away all things that are made out of plastic if they still function or you need them. Try to replace them with a more sustainable option when they’re out of use. Turn down free things if you can’t use it. 

Some things can’t really be replaced with more sustainable options, like medicins. Don’t feel guilty about it. Nobody’s perfect and small steps are helping. For example, if you’re buying a new plastic bottle everyday and you start using a reusable bottle, it saves 365 bottles a year!

Remember that you don’t have to adjust everything at the same time, replace a product with a conscious option when it needs replacement. Baby steps will also get you there eventually!

Love,

Mel

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