3 Most Life-Changing Zero Waste Swaps

I’ve tried as hard as possible over the last year or so to minimise my waste and my own size 3 footprint on the world. But nobody’s perfect, and sometimes circumstances get in the way. I’ve found that despite obstacles (home renovations, travel, home renovations…) several habits have really stuck with me, and have completely changed my way of consuming items and creating waste. Here are my favourites, the ones that have resulted in a total overhaul of what I would previously have done or bought and those that I strongly recommend trying if you haven’t already!

If you need denim, consider Levi’s: they’re working on creating jeans that need no water! So much love for my Levi’s dungarees

1. The Menstrual Cup

One of the biggest impacts we females can make on piles of trash being taken to landfill, burning off toxic chemicals in incinerators, or flushing down into the sea, is to take the step towards waste-free periods. I love my menstrual cup (never thought I would say those words), it’s easy to use, I feel strangely more connected to my body and its functions, and as a previous pad user, my impact was huge: in the average non-organic sanitary towel, you find as much plastic as in 4 plastic bags. Four! I would probably have gone through 12 on a usual period; that’s the equivalent of throwing away 48 plastic bags every month.

The cup takes a little getting used to (but no worse than when you first tried tampons), and dealing with it in public toilets is not easy. Thankfully you only need to take it out once every 12 hours, so I just take it out and clean it with soap in the morning and again before bed, and boil it in water before and after my ‘on’ days. Easy AF!

2. Saying no to unethical clothing

Fast fashion is a huge problem, and is one of the world’s largest pollutants. Clothing is sold more cheaply than it costs to make (the most simple cotton t-shirt should cost $13 before it even leaves the factory to ensure that no one was harmed and no child labour was used) so any less expensive than that, and you know the company is cutting corners somewhere. This usually means unfair working conditions and/or poorly produced materials without respect for the environment. These days I’ve totally embraced shopping second-hand, or occasionally at shops which I know produce clothes ethically. With websites like Vinted, Depop, or Poshmark, and all the great vintage or charity shops out there, there are so many options for second-hand shopping, especially for the more frivolous purchases that we don’t really need (a few purchases on Vinted are pictured below- some needed, some not so much). I’ve had to break up with Topshop, ASOS, and Zara, and as a reformed shopaholic it was tough, but by shopping second-hand I can still enjoy fashion at a good price and lower my impact hugely.

Shopping second hand does not necessarily result in florals on a black base – it appears I have a type

Topshop, Hollister, New Look, Topshop

3. Avoiding the Big 4: bottles, bags, cups, and straws.

This is probably the easiest step to take, and it’s 4 in 1! Make it your resolution to stop using plastic bottles, plastic bags, disposable cups (lined with plastic and therefore non-recyclable), and plastic straws. How to do it? Get yourself a reusable bottle that you keep in your bag, a travel mug if you think it’s a takeaway coffee sort of day, a few reusable shopping bags (always have one on you just in case) and ask for no straw in your drink when you order. The worst case scenario? The drink comes with a straw anyway, or worse, you’re told to “just take it out” (true story). In either case, you’ve done your part, which is all you can do!

Easiest changes you can make!

But like every movement, compassion is important, not least towards yourself. Sometimes circumstances get in the way: I recently spent 3 weeks away for work with only a microwave and a toaster to my name, so it’s safe to say my impact went up about 500% during those weeks. Now I’m back home, armed more easily with reusable shopping bags and un-plastified fruit & veg (seriously Marks & Spencer’s, sort yourself out), I’m feeling re-boosted in the zero waste mission!

All we can do is our best with the resources we have around us, so I urge you to think, every time you throw something to the magical, Santa Clausian land of “Away”, is there instead A Better Way?

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