New Purchases, Shopping, Zero Waste

Small Changes

Small Changes Towards Zero Waste:

People ask me how we first began reducing our plastic consumption & general waste. My answer is just start by making small changes.

It can seem overwhelming at first when you decide to make changes to your consuming habits. When you first start working towards your plastic free/ zero waste future it’s important to remember that anything can be achieved if your task is broken down into small enough pieces.

Begin by paying more attention to what you’re buying and what you’re throwing away or recycling. Once you have identified areas you’d like to change begin by changing one thing at a time and see how you get on.

We started by becoming more aware of the amount of recyclable & non-recyclable plastic we were buying. This was predominately in the form of plastic vegetable bags and food & household product packaging.

We had been using sturdy large shopping bags for a few years but started by investing in some reusable vegetable bags. The first ones we purchased weren’t very good as they started to tear. That’s when we also discovered that they were actually made from polyester – we were so into buying a reusable option that we failed to research our choice properly. We are obviously still using these but have now purchased some sturdier cotton bags; these are also better for buying items from bulk stores.

This led us to start being more organised for all of our shopping trips. I always take a backpack with a selection of bags as well as having some extra bags in the car. This allows us to be able to refuse plastic bags from stores. Even if we forget our bags we’ll do our best to manage without.

The next change we made was to analyse our shopping habits. This first led us to start using refill pouches from more eco friendly brands instead of buying new bottles for items like shower gel and washing up liquid etc.

After a while though, we decided to search out plastic free alternatives and began using soap and shampoo bars instead of liquids. This led us to research different products and alternative ways to shop. I now buy our dry goods like pasta, sugar, pulses and even oils and liquids from zero waste & bulk stores.

I eventually started to experiment by making my own items like toothpaste, household cleaning sprays, washing up liquid and laundry detergent. We then stopped using kitchen roll and cling film and started saving glass bottles and jars to use as food storage alternatives. We obviously haven’t thrown away any of our plastic containers and will continue to reuse these as well as old plastic bags that we still have.

The key is to start by making small changes to your habits and to be more organised for your shopping trips.


Here are six steps you could start incorporating into your life to help you on your way:

1. Buy a selection of reusable vegetable shopping bags.

    Refuse plastic fruit and veg bags and replace them with something more sustainable. I found these lightweight organic cotton bags at a bulk store recently. They come in 5 different sizes and the Medium ones have handy weight measurements printed on them too. (www.ah-table.com)

2. Invest in a reusable water bottle.

    One million single use plastic water bottles are consumed globally every minute! We are doing our bit by taking our reusable water bottles everywhere with us. Including taking them empty through airport security and filling them up on the other side. At first we were a bit apprehensive asking restaurants and cafes to fill them up but only one place has ever refused us, most places are really happy to help. Once these bottles wear out, we will definitely be replacing them with non-plastic versions! Also consider doing the same for hot drinks too.

3. Start using soap instead of shower gel.

    When we finished our last shower gel refill pouch we found some beautiful hand made package free soap. There are so many varieties of soap on the market that you’ll find this an easy switch and will find the right soap for you. We’ve also started using shampoo and conditioner bars too. Zero waste stores also sell shower gel and shampoos in bulk; you just have to take your own container.

4. Stop using paper kitchen towels.

    For some people this may seem impossible but in reality it’s so simple. Repurpose or buy some cotton towels or muslins and keep a stack in the kitchen and just wash them with your weekly wash.
    We kept all of the muslin squares from when Amelie was a baby and now use these as our kitchen roll replacement.

5. Stop buying plastic food wrap.

    We used up our clingfilm months ago and honestly have never looked back! As well as reusing jars & plastic containers we also purchased some beeswax wraps (you can find vegan alternatives too). The beeswax wraps I bought were quite expensive so instead of buying more I made my own out of some of Amelie’s old cotton clothes and baby sheets – all you need is the material, beeswax bars or pellets and an oven. I bought my bars in a small gift shop in the UK but they are also available online.

6. Buy reusable drinking straws.

    The huge issue of plastic drinking straws is probably one of the most publicised elements of the plastic crisis. We have bought a few bamboo and metal straws and keep a couple in different bags so we’re always prepared when we go out. The next challenge is always remembering to tell the server that you don’t want a straw. We still forget from time to time and kick ourselves when the drink comes out with a straw. We can personally also recommend mojitos with a metal straw. Somehow it makes it taste even better!


Its amazing how simple things are when you make a little effort, especially when you don’t have any other options available.

Good luck and please message us if you want any further advice. We’re also planning future blog posts on making your own plastic free alternatives so sign up to receive our email updates.

2 thoughts on “Small Changes”

  1. Hi – very helpful tips here. Was wondering where you can get the shampoo and conditioner bars in Switzerland and what your experience is with the quality of the product?

    1. Hi Jodi,

      Thanks for your comment. We are still experimenting with shampoo & conditioner bars but have found them for sale in LUSH as well as in zero waste and bio stores. Another small company we’ve found is My Swiss Soap in Etoy (www.myswisssoap.ch). We also keep an eye out for handmade soaps for sale in small shops and at local markets too.
      I hope this helps a little and good luck with your search.

      Russ

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