Many millennials are conscious of their environmental footprint and bank balance so zero-waste living could be the perfect solution to multiple concerns. The zero-waste lifestyle involves reducing the trash that would go to the landfill to an absolute minimum by either finding recyclable alternatives or relying on zero-waste products.
This article will focus on zero-waste, reusable lifestyle products that can easily replace disposable things you use daily. While the upfront cost of eco-friendly products may be slightly more than disposable alternatives, they will last for years, meaning it is a sensible long-term investment for yourself and the planet.
Let’s look at simple swaps you can make around your home.
Zero Waste Living in the Kitchen
First up, the kitchen. It’s one of the places where you are likely to find the most waste, so making these small changes could have a significant positive impact on your trash.
Things like cling film and tin foil used to cover food or packed lunches are terrible for the environment. They can be quite expensive, especially when making multiple lunches for your family. So, stretchy silicone lids are a fantastic alternative. You can usually buy them in different shapes and sizes, meaning you’ll be able to cover bowls, tubs, pieces of fruit, or leftovers. These will last you years and years and can easily be recycled when the time comes to replace them.
Bamboo is the Best!
Investing in bamboo lunch boxes is another alternative to wrapping your lunch in cling film or foil. They are incredibly sturdy and environmentally friendly and will last for years, rather than needing to buy a new plastic lunch box each year if it becomes discolored or is out of shape. Also, if you need to replace it after a while, the environment will recycle bamboo than a plastic alternative.
We use food scourers in the sink that get thrown away very often as they usually lose their abrasive surface quickly. Still, compostable scourers are a zero-waste lifestyle solution to this issue. They are typically made of natural wood fibers and are naturally abrasive and last much longer than plastic sponges, but the best bit is that they are compostable! You will be buying sponges far less often and producing much less waste.
Although this list could go on forever, the last change you could make is to have a food bin for compost, where you would place any food waste that would otherwise go into your standard bin. If you invest in a compost bin for the garden, you can put your food waste into the bin outside, and after a few months, you will have compost ready to use in your garden! Compost is expensive, so this is a free alternative.
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We all want our living area to be stylish, but balancing that with a zero-waste lifestyle can be challenging. However, this doesn’t mean you need to go out and spend thousands on new furniture. Instead, a far more eco-friendly option is to buy second-hand furniture and upcycle it yourself!
Upcycling involves taking pre-loved items and investing time to give them a new lease of life. For example, if you bought a new solid oak dressing table, you would probably be looking to spend between $200 and $500. That may not seem like extortionate amounts of money, but it will soon add up if you decorate the whole room.
So, you could go to flea markets, charity shops, and online marketplaces to pick out high-quality furniture at a discounted price. The main thing to consider here is the shape and style, as the colors and final touches can change! After removing any metalware:
- Wipe your piece of furniture down with sugar soap and rinse clean.
- Once dry, apply a coat of furniture paint primer evenly all over your item.
- Apply a few coats of furniture paint (leaving it to dry completely in between coats) and put on the new metalware.
You have a fantastic new piece of zero-waste furniture to brighten up your living room for a very low cost!
A Zero Waste Bathroom
You can make some effortless zero-waste lifestyle changes in your bathroom, starting with your cotton wool pads and buds. Although many cotton wool buds are now made using cardboard or bamboo, reusable alternatives will be even better for the environment and your bank balance.
When made correctly, reusable earbuds can last 1000+ uses, so that’s 1000 fewer cotton buds in the recycling or waste system, thanks to you. It’s also 999 fewer cotton buds you need to buy! Of course, the zero-waste option does cost more, yet you will soon make your money back. After each use, you can quickly clean it with some soap and water, and it’s ready to use again.
For cotton pads, say the average person uses 1-2 a day; that’s around 7,300 a decade! You can buy reusable, zero-waste cotton wool pads, and after using them, you can store them in a small tub until you are doing your next wash. Then, please rinse them before putting them in the washing machine with the rest of your washing. This product will last for years, making it is a worthy investment.
Finally, when it comes to cleaning, products are often packaged in lots of plastic, containing harmful chemicals. So, a cheap and eco-friendly alternative is to make your own! Combine lemon oil, lavender oil, vinegar, and cooled boiled water for a handy anti-bacterial spray. The lemon will help break down any soap scum or grease. The lavender will act as an anti-bacterial element, and the acidic nature of vinegar is strong enough to kill bacteria. If you want to fight any mold build-up in your bathroom, switch out the lemon oil for tea tree oil. These ingredients are incredibly cheap and will enable you to make batch after batch without needing to throw away any plastic.
This section focuses on how you can have a zero-waste wardrobe. Today’s culture seems to be consumed by fast-fashion, which involves poor-quality clothes, getting produced quickly to keep up with every new trend. The focus on trends also leads to people being more likely to wear an outfit once before discarding it.
So, your best option is to buy better quality clothes that will last year after year and will never go out of fashion. Aim to buy wardrobe staples that can easily be interchanged with other items to create many different outfits. The upfront cost of these clothes might be more, yet you will save so much money in the long run as you won’t need to update your wardrobe continually.
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If you do need to get rid of any clothes, please don’t just throw them away. Look into your local charities and donate your clothes to them. Something you think you no longer need could be what someone else is looking for. The exception would be if something is broken beyond repair, so in this case, try to find the best way to dispose of them. Some shops accept broken or ripped clothes and sell them on as scraps of textiles for craft purposes, so it is always worth checking. You’ll be doing your bit for the community and helping needy people.
When you have a baby, you will notice how much more waste is produced from nappies, wipes, clothes, etc. A few simple swaps can change this dramatically, though!
Let’s start with nappies and wipes. The average baby needs changing around ten times a day, although this reduces as they get older. Yet, this has the potential to add up to over 10,000 nappies over three years! That is a staggering amount of plastic materials going into landfills, so at least give reusable nappies a go.
Reusable nappies can be sanitized and washed easily, and they are also flexible in terms of size, so you won’t need to keep replacing them as your child grows. Aside from the obvious environmental benefits, you can potentially save thousands of pounds across your child’s nappy-wearing years.
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Babies get mucky, so you will find yourself using multiple wipes, not including those used for nappy changing throughout the day. Reusable baby washcloths are zero waste, making them a fantastic alternative to disposable wipes. Bamboo washcloths are soft and gentle on the skin, making them much safer than wipes containing chemicals that could harm your baby’s sensitive skin. Rather than using a different wipe to clean hands after a walk, wipe babies face after breakfast, lunch and dinner and clean up after a craft session, you can use the same washcloths for everything.
Finally, when it comes to weaning, most foods you buy will come in plastic pouches or pots thrown away. Buying reusable food pouches that you can fill with homemade foods for weaning is much more eco-friendly and cost-effective. Also, many of the products you can buy are heavily processed to ensure they have a long shelf life, so making the food yourself using fresh fruit and vegetables will be the healthiest option for your baby.
So, there you have it! A few different ways you can incorporate the zero waste lifestyle into your everyday living. You won’t get things perfect immediately, but even implementing some of these things into your routine will positively impact the environment. Luckily, all the items discussed here are also much cheaper than their disposable counterparts! All of these things have the potential to become second nature, and you could save so much money over the years, so give it a good go.