We asked what the most difficult parts about trying to live more zero waste were recently and lack of zero waste/bulk shops came up as the top answer.
There are so many ways you can live more zero waste without having a zero waste shop near you. Stop judging yourself by what you can’t do or help with but praising yourself for what you can, until you can take it to the next level.
- Say no – it can be embarrassing the first one or two times you say it as you may not want to make a drama, but luckily with the ‘blue planet effect’ and media attention, you’ve got this on your side. Say no to bags, straws, freebies (junk ‘gifts’), plastic bottles and instead bring your own.
- Stop – Stop listening to the adverts that make you feel worthless and drive you to go buy the latest thing you’ll use once and really don’t need. Get adblockers on your browser, skip ads on videos you’re watching and start focusing on what actually makes you happy. Also, stop to write your list before you leave the house with your wallet. This will all help curb your impulse buying.
- Remember your bags – Simple and effective. Carry lightweight fold-able cloth bags inside each other in your bag at all times, handmade t-shirt bags are great for this.
- Make your own food – meals and drinks are the biggest culprits here. We think we don’t have enough time in the day to make our own when in reality most of us do. It took a look at my ‘digital health’ app on my phone to see just how much time I spent scrolling through Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest and being reminded if I want to watch the next show on Netflix, when I could have been making meals and snacks, replying to emails, tackling the mile long to do list etc. I urge you to do the same, we’re all guilty of it.
- Making food/saving resources (continued) – if you still don’t have time, start saving time by making everything at the same time and batch cook or save resources by baking your own cereal bars whilst cooking your dinner in the oven.
- Eat seasonally and locally if you can – It’s far more environmentally friendly to eat seasonally and locally than it is to buy grapes all year round. Speak to neighbours, community gardens, allotments and look up local farms/farmers about buying from them directly or collecting together to get veg box deliveries. If this isn’t fruitful (pardon the pun) then have a go at growing what you can on your windowsill or in your own garden.
- Hydrate – While I love having cold water to drink and my insulated water bottle encourages me to drink more water, I don’t really need it. I have also now banned myself from buying water (it’s free after all!) and unless I have my water bottle with me or something to drink from with me, I don’t buy it. Just a simple glass jar works for drinking from – same goes for takeaway coffee and tea.
- Start hoarding (slightly) – glass jars and bottles, these all work really well for drinking from, buying food and storing food in. Tins can be used for your own herb garden on your window sill too!
- Cleaning up – So many different products clutter our homes with different room/appliance name tags on them. Cleaning your home with a bar of soap, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar works just as well with a little extra workout in it so no need for the gym! Check out our eco-friendly cleaning guide here.
- Sort out your recycling – A little extra work, but worth it so that your recycling efforts don’t go to waste. Remove plastic windows from envelopes, peel labels from tins and wash out your jars and tins before recycling.
- Delete your emails – Simple, yet effective! You can reduce your carbon footprint/e-carbon footprint by simply deleting emails you no longer need and unsubscribing from the junk mail that spams your inbox.
- Cover up when cooking – When you’re cooking, cover your pots with lids to not only cook quicker, therefore saving yourself on energy bills, but also reducing wasting energy.
- Reducing the post – Complete the form on the post office website and send it to them, notifying them you no longer want to receive marketing post, You can also put a sticker on your letterbox to say no junk mail, if you still receive some after this, complain to the companies. Unsubscribe from the magazines and catalogues you can easily access online.
- Get an Aloe Vera plant – good for so many things such as soothing burns and cuts, we’ve also heard for drinking Aloe juice and lubricant (not sure if safe with condoms though).
- Cloth wipes and Loofah – These are amazing! Flannels, cut up old towels and cloth face wipes are great for cleaning your face and loofahs are brilliant for exfoliating dry skin areas on your body
- No need for bubble baths or baths – Reduce the amount of times you have a bath, the amount of water used is crazy! When you do indulge, skip the bubble bath creme. Bubble bath typically does nothing for your skin and instead dries it out, completely counteracting it. Instead, try a few drops of oil like jojoba or vitamin e or use porridge oats to soften the skin. Oats work really well on soothing skin problems like dry, cracking skin, dermatitis (what I get troubles with) and eczema. Pour oats into a muslin or thin cloth, tie and then squeeze every so often while soaked to create your own milk bath. It can sometimes smell like porridge if you squeeze a lot, so put a couple of skin safe essential oils in if you’re not a porridge fan.
- Olive oil it up – Olive oil isn’t only great for your insides, but also the outside! It’s a great vitamin rich oil which easily soaks into your skin and only a little is needed at a time. Some people use coconut oil too but I’ve personally found this clogs my pores but everyone is different.
- Shop second-hand and borrow – This has been my favourite part as it’s something I’ve always loved to do but always thought people thought less of me. Luckily since maturing and being an adult, shopping second-hand has not only saved a lot of money, but also found me amazing finds I will truly treasure forever! If you only need something for an evening or a day, then ask your friends, neighbour and community if you can borrow from them.
- Use your locals – So many public services are being closed due to ‘lack of interest’, places like community centres and libraries, we need to keep these open! Not only for the borrowing books and ‘free wifi’ but for connecting with our local community. Host events in your local halls, such as community meals, quiz nights or even your own markets.
- Use your locals (continued) – Shop local too to support the local economy and keep businesses in their premises so that there aren’t lots of empty buildings. You may have more sway by asking these businesses to go plastic free too.
- Rent a room – Flat/house share to use your home to the fullest potential, have a family feel and share the bills. Empty/spare rooms just means waste of energy, housing costs and your carbon footprint higher.
- Car share – If you don’t have access to public transport and can’t cycle, hook up with friends, colleagues and/or fellow students and share the car journey and costs. Just make sure you all agree to the playlists or radio station and chip in for fuel/parking costs.
- Order takeaway – If you need a takeaway fix, take your own containers to the takeaway outlet, turn up 10 minutes before you’re meant to with your tubs and ask them to fill those instead. Again, it’s weird at first, but our local takeaway thanked us as it saves costs for them ordering more tubs!
- Load a full wash – Not using your washing machine to it’s full capacity wastes a lot of energy and resources, so fill your washing machine up anytime you’re doing a wash.
- Turn off the switches and lights – The reminders you had from parents and teachers growing up had a valuable lesson behind them, save energy and your bills by switching off. Simple but effective.
- Fill your kettle as little as possible – If you’re a tea addict like myself, then only fill the kettle with as much water as you need or, use a teapot and tea cosy!
- Turn off the tap – Running water while you brush your teeth is a massive waste of water. Again something our parents told us off for and we should continue
- Plant a tree – There are lots of campaigns to plant trees physically, you can even plant trees just by browsing the internet using the Ecosia search engine which comes as a handy plugin on Chrome.
- Switch energy supplier – there are some great green energy deals now and a lot are cheaper than ‘ordinary’ tariffs now too if available in your area.
- Repair – ‘Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without’ a quote from the Great Depression but rings true for frugality and zero waste. ‘Mending and Making Do’ is something that is coming back with a vengeance thankfully alongside buying second-hand now.
- Re-use and Re-purpose – Above all else, use what you’ve already got is the best way to reduce your waste. So, use those plastic food bags as many times as you can before throwing them away, re-use your sauce jars and cut up holey t-shirts into handkerchiefs etc. Use up what you can and re-use them as many times as possible.
So, 31 ways to reduce your waste that isn’t bulk shopping!
It was difficult to keep it to 31 (I’ve added more since editing this) and I’m sure there will be more posts to add to this list in the future.
Yes, we’re a zero waste shop, and we hope you like our products but we also want you to be living what’s best for you. Hopefully helping you to reduce your waste in the many other ways there are if you don’t have (and until you do have) access to a zero waste shop for bulk, plastic free food.