In case you missed all the excitement, I’ve been doing a week long zero waste challenge – a plastic fast, if you will!
The rules were simple:
- Avoid single-use plastic for one week, and no new plastic of any kind
- I get 5 “free passes”, for things I can’t live without
- If I already had something in the house which came in single-use plastic, I can use it – let’s not go nuts
- Document my switch outs and challenges
- Count and document any times when I tried, but failed, to avoid plastic
Check out my journal posts to see how I did!
Some of the biggest things for me…
I really enjoyed our trip to the farmers’ market. We got some lovely fresh produce and saved quite a bit of money by doing our shopping this way. It was also such a pleasure to be able to do the weekly shop together and make a day out of it.
I highly recommend taking a trip to your nearest market and trying them out for your food shopping, even if you aren’t trying to reduce your reliance on plastic. It was so much fun!
That being said, there’s no way we have time to head off to a farmers’ market every weekend. While we’ll definitely be going back, I’m afraid I’ll still be doing the bulk of the weekly food shop online.
I love my milkman… My milk comes in glass bottles, it costs the same as we were paying at the supermarket – but the milk is organic, and no more annoying late-night trips to the convenience store. Plus, we can get juice, cheese and bread without all the plastic. We’re definitely keeping the milkman!
Making my own cleaning products
I’d always assumed it was hard / impossible to make your own cleaning products. You know, if you want them to actually work and kill all the nasty germs – especially when you live in a house with lots of pets, who have a tendency to drag disgusting things in on their feet! Turns out, it’s really quick and easy, they work even better than store bought (plus have none of the nasty chemicals) and will save you a lot of money.
I’m absolutely sold. We won’t be buying anymore cleaning products!
Making my own beauty products
Since I’ve switched out my make-up wipes and moisturiser, as well as all the bathroom products, my skin is much cleaner and doesn’t get any dry patches. It really wasn’t difficult to do, either. This is another plastic-free hack I’ll be keeping.
The difficulty of food shopping
As I suspected, the hardest part of the entire challenge was the food shopping. It absolutely can be done, but, unless you have the time to go store to store, and to the farmers’ market every weekend, it’s a complete pain in the butt. You also need to remember to carry your own containers and be vigilant about turning down plastic bags. It isn’t impossible at all, but it’s time consuming to shop this way.
Having to cook every day – no more convenience foods
If you work full-time, like me, I think you’ll agree – there are days when you come home and the last thing you want to do is cook! You’re tired, maybe you had a bad day, and you’ve got a thousand other things to get done… If you’re plastic-free, there’s no such thing as convenience cooking. No more ready meals, pizzas, quick pasta dishes, or snacks. Plus, you’ve always got to find the time to make packed lunches for the next day. It might be better for your waistline, but it’s exhausting!
We struggled massively with the cooking from fresh every single day – it caused a few rows. As much as I would like to keep it up, and for some people it’s probably really feasible; I think, realistically, not for us. We’ve always cooked from fresh to some degree, and will continue to do so, but probably not every day.
My Top Five Tips
- Do some shopping and get glass Tupperware and tubs, a reusable coffee cup, essential oils, glass spray bottles, wax wraps, and a Loofah dish pad. Consider paper sacks instead of bin bags. You’ll drastically reduce your single-use plastic consumption without much effort.
- Check out my recipe for cleaning spray and try making your own products – I think you’ll be surprised by how good they are, how quick it is, and how much you’ll enjoy it! Or, some of the books from my mini-review.
- Get a book about making your own beauty products and give it a go – I liked 100 Organic Skincare Recipes. But there’s plenty of advice in this area online.
- Get a milkman, if you can.
- Google plastic alternatives for some of those products you’d swear there was no alternative for – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
My zero waste shopping list…
- Reusable coffee cup
I like the ECoffee cups. They’re reasonably priced, pretty, long-lasting, and very eco-friendly.
- Glass water bottle
You can get tin water bottles, but, personally, I think they make my water taste “funny”. I like the glass water bottles from MIU.
- Glass Tupperware
An absolute must for food shopping and packed lunches! I like the Utopia set.
- Wax wraps
Wax wraps are pretty, useful, and will save you a lot of money in the long run. I’m a big fan. Mine come from BeeKeepers.
- Glass spray bottles
Absolutely essential for making your own cleaning products, mine come from Cleaning Essentials.
- Glass tubs
For storing your dry cleaning products, making body scrub and moisturisers, glass tubs are incredibly useful. Saving jam jars and other food jars will work for cleaning products, but you’ll need something with a wide mouth for beauty products. Mine come from Argon Tableware.
- Essential oils
There is absolutely no way to make your own cleaning and beauty products without good quality oils. I absolutely love mine. We use them for making products, put them in the diffuser, and carry roller bottles of our favourite blends. I can’t rave about them enough.
But you do need good quality, and that isn’t always easy to find. Don’t go to the grocery store and get them off the shelf, chances are they contain all kinds of chemicals which make them ineffective and can potentially be harmful.
Mine are from Young Living and they’re fabulous! You do need to be referred by a member though, to make them affordable.
- Carrier oils
If you’re going to make your own beauty products, you’ll definitely need some base oils. I like fractionated coconut oil, but there are lots of other options.
- White vinegar
You can make cleaning products without white vinegar, but it really does boost their germ-killing power. I was totally unable to find it in a glass bottle at a reasonable price, so I just use whatever comes to hand at the supermarket.
- Bamboo cloths
Bamboo cloths are super sustainable and will save you a fortune on cleaning cloths and face wipes in the future. Plus, they’re lovely. I have larger cloths from house cleaning and little round ones for my face. There are tons of options on Amazon.
- Loofah dish pad
We love our Loofah dish scourer from ICEBLUEOR. It comes with a lifetime guarantee and works a treat, without all the nasty plastic.
Let me know what you thought of my tips, any of your own, and if you’d consider reducing your own plastic consumption!