The Zero Waste movement has been getting plenty of well-deserved recognition over the last few years. People are finally examining their waste output and re-evaluating their actions in order to make for a more sustainable lifestyle. These positive changes have accounted for a slow improvement: countries all over the world are coming to ban single-use plastics and enforcing hefty fines on those who break the law.
With a shocking 12 million tonnes of plastic entering our oceans every year, it is no surprise that our planet is dying from the sheer output of waste we produce. According to StrawlessOcean, around 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have been found with plastic in their stomachs and if plastic is ingested, marine life has just a 50% chance of survival.
Whether you’re just starting your sustainable lifestyle journey or you’re a seasoned zero waster, we’ve selected our top five zero waste swaps you can make to slash your waste output.
Zero Menstrual Cup
If you menstruate, you will be all too familiar with conventional methods of sanitary protection such as period pads and tampons. You’ll also be acutely aware that each of these single-use methods of period care come wrapped in non-recyclable plastic.
The average menstruator uses between 9,000 and 12,000 tampons in their lifetime, which equates to over 200,000 tonnes of waste per year. Alarmingly, these disposable methods of sanitary protection all contain plastic: in fact, pads are around 90% plastic. Tampon applicators & pad packaging often get washed up on our beaches; they break down to micro plastics, causing damage to marine life.
By switching to a reusable method of sanitary protection, you’re making the conscious effort to opt for a zero waste period.
You can read more about how using Zero Cup makes your periods zero waste here
Zero Cup is a reusable menstrual cup made from medical grade silicone that can be used for up to 10 years. Our instructions are printed on recycled paper and our Zero Cups come in a cloth storage bag. There's no excessive packaging and 100% plastic free.
Reusable Water Bottle
In the UK, over 35 million bottles are consumed each day, with around 16 million of those going unrecycled. So it makes sense that if every person were to switch to a reusable water bottle, this number would take a huge dive. If you live in a country where the tap water is safe to drink, then there’s virtually no excuse to not make the switch.
Highlighted by National Geographic, a shocking 91% of plastic is simply not recycled.
PET plastics take around 400 years to decompose in a landfill, and that is of course presuming that they do indeed make their way there. Ironically, plastic bottles are made from PET, which itself is easily recyclable: it is clear we have a larger issue of littering and laziness to correctly recycle our water bottles.
We should all be making the concerted effort to stay hydrated - and what better way to do that than if we are carrying around a reusable water bottle as a reminder to take a sip.
We like these "Not A Plastic Bottle" ones from Farawild.
(photo source & credit: http://www.thehappysloths.com/)
Just think about how much plastic waste you consume from your beauty products. Shampoo, conditioner, and liquid soap comes in excessive plastic packaging. And there are so many simple, yet effective, ways to cut down on your consumption. Simply switching to bar soap reduces the need for plastic packaging as they’re often packaged in cardboard or paper.
As someone who is concerned about the impact on the environment, it is important to steer clear of soaps that contain lard, tallow, and unsustainable palm oil. Many solid shampoos & conditioners are better for your health as they tend to be more eco-conscious. We love products that are free from harsh chemicals such as SLSs, parabens, and triclosan.
We can’t get enough of Dr Bronner's soap - which has 18 different uses and comes in a range of scents.
Lush is known for its pioneering eco-friendly and vegan approach to beauty & health care. With products hailed as “smelling so good you could eat it”, their line of shampoo & conditioner bars do not disappoint. They have a wide range of products suited to different hair types. Plus, you can store your solid shampoo in a cute reusable metal tin.
Single use plastic straws are often the poster-child of the zero waste movement. And for good reason. In the United States alone, over 500 million plastic straws are used and disposed of every single day. It is not by happenstance that plastic straws storm the list as part of the top 10 items of litter found during International Coastal Cleanup Day.
By swapping to a reusable straw alternative, we end up reducing the amount of litter we dispose of. We hope that more countries will follow Taiwan’s decision to ban single-use plastic straws.
As with plastic bottles, we have a global problem with littering when it comes to single-use plastic bags. As they cannot be as easily recycled as plastic water bottles due to their make-up properties, surely it makes even more sense to switch to a reusable alternative?
It can take between 500 - 1,000 years for a plastic shopping bag to break down. The use lifespan of a bag is approximately 12 minutes of use, whereas the use you’ll get out of a reusable bag is infinitely more.
Whether you bag your shopping in a cute canvas tote bag, your trusty handbag, or your hold-all rucksack, just know that your efforts contribute to a more sustainable future. You might want to consider using bags for specific purposes when doing your grocery shop: for instance, a heavy duty jute bag would be great for heavy canned goods, whereas a thinner canvas bag would be suited for lightweight veggies.
We love this post by Be Zero outlining the uses and benefits of switching to a reusable bag.