Living a zero-waste, low-waste, or a minimalist lifestyle has gained popularity recently. Our over consumption of single-use products seems to thrive from our desire for convenience. All that plastic pollution has come back to bite us as we’re on our way to having more plastic in the ocean than fish. Yes, it is convenient to throw a coffee cup in the bin, rather than clean and carry a reusable one with you, but it’s not convenient for the planet. The climate has changed, and will continue to change as we enter the climate crisis. It’s important to do what we can to keep the planet and it’s life healthy and thriving for future generations. One of the best things you can do to live an eco-friendly life, and reduce your dependency on single-use products. These are the top 10 zero-waste essentials you need to help halt plastic pollution.
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Here’s some zero-waste products to consider adopting into your life style:
Reusable Water Bottle
10 million plastic bottles are used everyday, with it taking 3 litres of water just to make one plastic water bottle. Of course water is a necessity, but the single-use bottles are not. Getting a reusable bottle can actually save you money, as more and more places install fountains – my college was full of them and tracked how many single-use bottles they’d replaced.
Reusable Coffee Cup
It’s wonderful to see so many cafes switching to compostable take-away cups, as the standard coffee cups are not recyclable due to the thin layer of plastic which keeps them waterproof. 16 billion coffee cups are used every single year, but think how much less we would use if we all switched to reusable cups? The downside to compostable cups is that they often end up with general waste, and not in the compost bin, which almost defeats the purpose as they can’t biodegrade in the dump. So many places offer discounts or loyalty card points to customers who bring their own cup, so if you drink a lot of coffee, a reusable cup basically pays for itself!
Carry a Tote Bag
Approximately two million plastic bags are used every minute, and these single-use bags are only used for a few minutes before being binned. If they make their way to the ocean, it’s easy for turtles to mistake them for jelly fish, which can block their digestive system and kill them. It’s so easy to carry a tote bag in a handbag or pocket everywhere, like coffee cups, with some stores charging for plastic bags you end up saving money. Single-use plastic bags are also so weak, that it just makes more sense to use a tote bag as they can carry more weight.
However, unfortunately, cotton is not a sustainable material so try to find a secondhand one, or one made from more sustainable, or even recycled, materials.
Reusable Lunch Box
Lunch foods are always coated in packaging, from sandwiches, snack bars, and microwaveable soups. It may take more time to make your own lunch and bring it with you, but it’s better for your wallet, the planet, and your health, as your meal won’t contain unnecessary preservatives. After school, we seem to fall out of the habit of taking our food with us – maybe because our mothers aren’t the one’s making the food anymore – but it’s a habit worth bringing back in adulthood! If we were accidently using these zero-waste essentials as kids, we can do it again!
Approximately 8.3 billion plastic straws are polluting our beaches and they also wreak havoc on marine life. I’ve seen multiple videos of sea turtles having straws stuck up their nose. Plastic straw bans brought up conversations about accessibility. As with most social movements, climate activism doesn’t always consider the fact that some products are essential for people with disabilities. Not everyone actually can go without plastic straws, for some metal or bamboo is too hard, and paper straws aren’t strong enough. However, for those of us who can live without plastic straws, say no to straws. Purchase reusable straws at home
As someone who wears make-up, the waste generated from taking it off every night adds up. Not only are cotton pads single-use, but cotton as a crop is also questionable. Although cotton is natural and biodegradable, organic cotton takes up considerably more space and water than conventional cotton, which relies heavily on pesticides. Cotton has a very high carbon footprint.
I found reusable cloths from Penny’s/Primark, that only need water to remove make-up, and they’re nothing short of magical. If you still need single-use pads or alternatives to cotton wool, I’d recommend bamboo ones as it’s much more sustainable. I use the cloths from Penney’s/Primark to remove my make-up, and then put toner on bamboo cloths.
This reusable cloth and cleanser combo is even greener than the Primark cloths as it comes from a smaller company.
Lose fruit & veg
Fruit and veg come in an unnecessarily amount of plastic. Nature provided skins for a reason, and we still go overboard on single-use packaging. Tesco still sells cucumber in plastic wrap. Try taking a mesh bag grocery shopping and buy lose fruit and veg.
People actually protested plastic in the first place when it came to supermarkets initially! Unfortunately, plastic stuck around. However, we know better now. We know now we need to try implement zero-waste essentials and a low-waste into our lifestyles.
The vast majority of food products come in packaging, but you don’t have to shop this way. Many health stores, and markets sell lose cereals or grains, that you can fill a reusable mason jar with. It’s even better to reuse an old jar.
The best zero-waste essentials are the ones you don’t have to buy.
Shampoo bottles are becoming an arbitrary piece of plastic thanks to shampoo bars. You can get hundreds of showers of of one bar, so they last longer, and produce no waste. A lot of people actually don’t even recycle shampoo bottles or empty toilet roll paper because it’s more convenient to just throw them in the waste bin in the bathroom! You can also switch to a bar of soap instead of shower gel for a completely zero-waste shower.
Tin foil and cling film are used once and then discarded. Everyone’s cling-film wrapped lunch ads up to a whole lot of landfill, incineration, or ocean waste. Reusable bee (or wax paper for vegans) is a sustainable way to keep food fresh and sealed without having to go though a mountain of cling film a month. Again, in the long run this saves money as they’re long lasting, and come in cute quirky patterns.
Do you have any of these zero-waste essentials?