When I have started the zero waste journey few months ago, it was at the beginning a bit overwhelming. You want to do everything perfectly and start feeling guilty when something you haven’t anticipated ends up with some plastic or waste that you wanted to avoid. But it is so difficult to be perfect straight away. This journey is taking time because you need to change some of your habits, you need to plan a little bit more, find the right places which are selling the products package free. But don’t be so hard on yourself because there isn’t a great infrastructure there yet to make things as easy and smooth as it should be. As I said in the article here, we are set up in a linear economy where everything we buy is producing trash pretty much automatically. You just have to try your best and overtime it will get better. If one day there is a hiccup, no big deal, you are doing something and if you are taking that seriously it is already great. As Anne-Marie Bonneau, the Zero Waste Chef, is saying “We don’t need a handful of people being perfectly sustainable, we need millions of people doing it imperfectly”. But still do your best and maximum!
Recently I have seen a quote an instagram that I quite like from Emma Watson “As consumers, we have so much power to change the world by being careful in what we buy”. I truly believe that.
As a consumer I can choose how I spend my money and if we are more and more to use our money for sustainable products, the industrials will be obliged to change and provide more sustainable options.
Without turning like Béa Johnson overnight, the guru of the zero waste lifestyle, you can still make simple changes.
Here are 10 easy tips that you can follow and implement in your life:
1/ The first one I have done is to stop buying plastic bottle of water and refill a reusable bottle instead. I have one jar for my house that I refill directly from the tape. If you don’t like the taste of tape water, you can use a filter. There is different plastic free options on the market. The one I use is a charcoal from Black + Blum. I am taking a water bottle with me all the time when I am out or travelling. One of the regular question is about the security check at the airport. Yes if you have your reusable bottle with you (empty of course), it will pass security. Nobody will take your beautiful Swell or Chilly’s bottle! Don’t worry! You can then refill it after at the toilets or some airports do have water refill machine. I have another one at work which I use trough out the day. It is one from the brand bkr and I love it. It is easy, cheaper long term (quite quickly actually considering the price of bottle of water) and the bottle keep the water warm or cold longer and they are beautiful. You can find the one which suits you and your style easily!!! It was one of the Christmas gift this year for my family and friends! Spread the words innocently
Honestly, I am starting to have physical reaction (smiley) when I see people in the tube or in the street with plastic bottles of water. Come on people, we are living in a country with running water and we are lucky!! Don’t worry I am not saying anything as I am really conscious that it is a personal choice and everybody can do whatever they want to. I just hope that I can inspire few people. I can tell you that my family and friends have all received a reusable bottle for Christmas!
And if I forget it, to go to the cinema for example, I am not buying one and I really try to stick to it and I can say that I haven’t bought a bottle of water since then and I have to admit that I am actually quite proud of it!
2/ Have a tote bag/reusable bag with you to say no to plastic bags or any bags. It is light and not taking a lot of space in your bag. Most of the time more convenient than the plastic bag because more resistant and you can put it on your shoulder. Tote bags are really fashionable now so you will find for sure one you like or have one for free easily.
3/ You see more and more, especially in London, a little bit less in Paris but it is coming, it is to bring a reusable cup. For the coffee/tea lover (I am on the tea team!), bring it with you to have your beverage on the go. Because the paper cup that Starbucks or other coffee shops are giving us, we think it is recyclable but it’s the mixture of paper and plastic in their inner lining – designed to make them both heat and leakproof – that causes difficulties. The vast majority of them (more than 99.75%) don’t get recycled. 2011 it was estimated that 2.5 billion coffee cups were thrown away each year and that figure is likely to be higher now.
Mine is a Keep Cup.
In the same way, use the same or bring your own cup at work to have your coffee from the coffee machine instead of the disposable one if your Company doesn’t provide ones. It is not a big effort to clean it quickly at the end of the day.
4/ Say no to straws in your cocktail what’s the point anyway, we are not babies it is way more classy to drink directly from the glass! But if you can’t do without straws you have many different options available to you (bamboo, glass, stainless Steel). Sometimes I forgot to say no straw when I order a smoothie or a cocktail and I am so annoyed when I see my order coming with a straw but it is almost automatic now. It is just practice and you can still engage a little conversation with the waiter or waitress about sustainability!
Did you know that It’s estimated that they use over 500 million every day in America, and most of those end up in our oceans, polluting the water and killing marine life.
Plastic straws end up in the ocean primarily through human error, often 1) left on beaches in coastal communities and seaside resorts globally 2) littered OR 3) blown out of trash cans (oftentimes overfilled) or transport boats and vehicles.
5/ One of the first thing you are thinking with zero waste is to have less packaging therefore shopping in bulk is the easiest way to avoid unnecessary waste. Not everybody is lucky enough to have a bulk store near by their home. Even me, living in London I have to take the bus to go to a bulk store. As I am really into that I don’t mind. I am bringing my organic fabric cotton bags and my own containers, usually my Mason or Le parfait jars or reused containers like my old plastic laundry liquid bottle. It is easy you are going to the shop, they weight your containers and then you can fill them with anything you want. I have weighed my cotton bag as well and wrote the weight on the labels. Even if you don’t have a bulk shop near you, you can bring your cotton bags to the farmer market or to the shop where you can find vegetables in bulk. More and more shops are accepting them and you will see you will have nice comments about them.
6/ Another easy one to ditch plastic and waste, it is to use a soap bar instead of shower gel in plastic bottle.
Usually one person is using approximatively one bottle of shower gel every month, where a soap bar is lasting twice longer. One top of that the products used to make the shower gel are not really good for your skin unlike the soap bar if you choose it carefully of course. And imagine the savings! The best soap bar for me is the Marseille soap from Marius Fabre. Just natural ingredients and for my sensitive skin it is really good and it is antiseptic. My mother was already using it for my brother and myself when we were kids.
7/ One of the easy change I have operated in my routine is to ditch cotton pads to replace them by fabric cotton pads especially to remove the make up. I have bought some from Le petit carré français and I asked my mother to made some with some old Liberty fabrics and towels I had. It is really easy, once used you wash them with your next round of washing machine and reuse them et voilà! And they are so cute!
8/ Who needs kitchen roll?! Honestly I am wondering now. You can easily replace it with cotton napkins and cotton fabric roll or the classic tea towels.
With my parents we were using napkins when I was younger and one day we switched to disposable napkins without really knowing why or maybe because it was quick or easy. Then when I moved out on my own I carried on that. I was buying a lot of kitchen rolls. Honestly, it is why we are in this situation now because for the sake of having the impression of having an easier life, we are using disposable items all the time. We are using them for few seconds only but it is taking ages (literally) to disappear from the surface of planet Earth without mentioning the resources and the pollution to produce them. And most of the time these items end up in the oceans.
Now I went back to cotton napkins and tea towels for the rest of the kitchen and I haven’t used a single piece of kitchen roll for a year. I don’t think it is more complicated at all. I put them in my weekly washing machine and that’s it.
My mother who is really gifted made me a reusable kitchen roll from old towels and with a nice fabric. It looks better than the disposable one. If you don’t have somebody around you to make you one, you can buy one from Earth Kind Creations.
9/ The 3 “R”s rule – They stand for Reduce/Reuse/Recycle
Reduce – the first step to generate less waste is to reduce what we consume and therefore what you throw away. Before buying anything just ask yourself if you really need it if you can’t use something you already have, borrow it. If it is really necessary, try to buy a better quality which last less. I think one of the thing is to consume less because at the end we don’t need that much stuff.
Reuse – use and reuse what you have. Repair it if it is broken instead of buying a new one. If you really need to buy something try to buy it second hand. It means as well to switch to reusable items instead of disposable ones like we mentioned above (water bottle, reusable coffee cup, tote bag etc…)
Recycle – if you have to throw something away, make sure that you are putting it in the right recycle bins. Check out what can be recycle in your local council.
To sum up consume less and enjoy what you have! It is really something I am trying to do now.
10/ The last change which could be the first one as it is free but you have to get used to is just to say NO. No to bags, plastic or paper, and bring your own one; to plastic cutlery when you are having take away; to free samples and things you know you don’t need and won’t use which will add to your clutter or end up straight away in your bin.
I really think that if you are already doing that it is having already a big impact and you will see that most of the time people have positive reaction to that
If you are transforming these little changes into an habit and do it consistently, you are on your way to be a zero waste champion and you will inspire many other ones along the way and that’s already AMAZING!!!
You will have an impact! Thanks a lot for that!
Let me know your thoughts! It is really important to me, always nice to discuss about this topic!