The Three Rs - Where to Start?
Updated: May 28
When it’s time to apply the “reduce, reuse, recycle” principle in our homes, it can at first feel confusing, overwhelming, daunting; you name it. It often implies disrupting a well-oiled routine and making a change.
Below, we’ll cover a few ways you can slowly begin your zero-waste venture, starting with:
1. Your kitchen
Who hasn’t heard of Chilli’s bottles and the likes in recent years? These reusable bottles with distinct designs and no plastic in sight have popped up on our desks, and with good reason. Not only are they reusable but they also keep your water cold or your coffee warm. Speaking of beverages: takeaway cups. Using a reusable coffee cup is a good habit to have when you’re a fan of coffee; and if you’re after some money-saving tips, you can get discounts for using reusable coffee cups! However, it goes without saying that the pandemic has made it more difficult to embrace a circular business model.
If you in a position to do so, avoid plastic plates, cutlery, straws, etc. Instead of single-use items you’d use for picnics or takeaways, opt for items you can easily wash and reuse. Or if you choose to have a meal with one of our partnering restaurants or food markets vendors, you can be sure our CauliBoxes will be back in circulation after you’re done with them. On another note, have you heard of beeswax wraps? These are a superb substitute to the very wasteful cling film.
To reduce the amount of plastic shopping bags, we’ve seen the arrival of alternatives: the stylish tote bag is one of them; and more recently, retail brands like Lidl and Morrisons have introduced net string bags in the market - especially welcome for loose produce. Getting pasta, rice, nuts, or spices in bulk from specialised stores is a better alternative to non-recyclable containers we find in supermarkets. Buying loose is probably one of the best ways you can quickly cut out plastic.
2. Your wardrobe
The Vinted app was made back in 2012 and has accumulated a large following in the UK, Europe, and the US. Their concept of ‘selling clothes you don’t wear anymore’ is popular - buying and selling is a quick and efficient process. From apps like Vinted to second-hand shops, the options are numerous when you want to step away from fast fashion and its negative impacts; namely, a fast production leading to a lot of water and energy waste. Good thing too: buying second-hand isn’t just limited to fashion. You can find ‘pre-loved’ furniture and appliances in every style.
If you have some sewing or DIY skills, repurposing clothing might be an idea for you. Otherwise, sustainable fashion is a growing sector as more brands are being created with the environment in mind. At this point, it’s crucial to research the companies you have in your line of sight to differentiate an authentic and ethical product as opposed to those who don’t live up to their claims of being “eco-friendly”.
3. Your bathroom
In the bathroom, replacing plastic containers of soap, shampoo, or conditioner is the first step to take. Choose bars that are just as effective, often cleaner in terms of chemicals, and work with all types of hair. Switching to a bamboo toothbrush is an easy fix as well. Along the same line, have you ever tried toothpaste tablets? These small pieces of solid toothpaste can feel unusual at first due to their foreign texture, but getting used to them is well worth it if compared to the non-recyclable plastic tubes we throw away regularly.
In terms of menstrual waste, 200,000 tonnes are sent to landfills each year in the UK. Fortunately, washable period pads, underwear, and cups now exist as comfortable alternatives to disposable period products. Reusable cotton pads are an easy solution to single-use makeup remover or cleansing wipes. And if you are a parent with toddlers, washable nappies are the way to go. And buying in bulk works here too! Who Gives a Crap created a system of subscription for eco-friendly toilet paper back in 2012 and has been superbly successful ever since.
It’s not about nailing these steps perfectly. Despite the noise around ‘sustainability’ and ‘eco-friendly’ - now turned buzzwords - viewing these changes less as a trend, but more as a mindset is crucial. The first step we can take is being aware of our impact and recognising the global implications of our everyday choices. And whilst actions at home can only have positive consequences, it’s also important to focus our efforts towards supporting local businesses and markets.
Next time we’ll explore exactly that: local markets around London where you can shop sustainably - stay tuned!