Stainless-steel straws, jute bags and re-usuable coffee cups are all the rage at the moment. But there are some easy zero-waste tips that you may not yet have considered.
Here are our 7 zero-waste tips you to help you become an eco-warrior in your own right:
Okay, stay with me here. Firstly and importantly, I don't want you to stop drinking tea! Peppermint tea is my go-to drink after dinner each night and a delicious substitute when I’ve reached my caffeine limit for the day. What I am asking you to do is ditch the (tea) bag. Tea bags are quite unassuming, but did you know that tea bags are actually made of finely woven plastic mesh? Yes, plastic mesh. For all my years, I actually thought the tea bag was some kind of papery bag. Boy was I wrong.
A better alternative is tea leaves. Grab yourself a tea strainer (even pick one up from your local second-hand store) and enjoy that tea. On a side note, depending on the tea you drink you may find that buying a box of tea leaves is actually cheaper than tea bags.
I hate to tell you this, but chewing gums (with the exception of natural gums) contain plastic. Ew. Think of all the times you swallowed it. Yuk! Modern day gum producers have ditched the use of natural ingredients (like tree sap) and replaced it with polyethylene and polyvinyl acetate (which are technical terms for plastic).
A plastic free alternative to remedy 'death breath' is chomping on mint leaves (possibly the easiest plant to grow) or cardamom pods. Both of these pack some punch so use in moderation.
Hands up if you have endless pens overflowing out of pencil cases, discarded in the bottom of your handbag or scattered in your car. That’s a lot of plastic pen bodies not really being of any help.
It's time to channel your inner grandma and step up your writing game. A fountain pen will help you on your zero-waste journey as you can replace the ink containers in the pen. Better yet, some companies even recycle the ink containers. Alternatively, use pencils when you can or highlighter pencils in lieu of normal highlighters.
Look back on the last week and think about all the purchases you made. From the grocery store, the café, the newsagency and the clothing store. For each transaction, did you receive a receipt? Where is that receipt now? In the bin or discarded in the bottom of the handbag, most likely.
We are all caught in the habit of mindlessly holding out our hand after making a payment to accept the receipt. If you don't need the receipt and you have the opportunity to say “no receipt please” before the receipt is printed, then give yourself a little high five.
Another household plastic lurker is the classic kitchen (synthetic) sponge. Did you know that most kitchen sponges break down into micro-plastics? These tiny pieces of plastic are a huge problem in our oceans, and if your local waste-water purification plant doesn’t collect the micro-plastics (particularly if they are very small and pass through their filters), they will pollute the ocean. Every time you are washing those dirty dishes, not only are you washing away the grease and grime, but you are also releasing microfibers from the sponge. Not cool.
A better alternative is using a compostable sponge or a brush made from natural fibres.
In an effort to look like hairless goddesses, plastic disposable razors are ending up in the tip at an extraordinary rate. With most plastic razors only being used 1- 5 times before being thrown out, there are better alternatives.
So, grow that underarm and leg hair! No, just kidding. A more environmentally-conscious alternative is a re-usable metal razor where the blades are replaced (or sharpened) or a bamboo handle razor. These razors do cost a little more in the short-term, but they can last years (even a lifetime if cared for correctly).
Everyone loves a good coffee in the morning, but while pod machines are convenient, they come at a cost. Those pretty, aluminium coffee pods get a 10 second use before being thrown into the bin. When you think about it, it seems a bit ridiculous to be mining the land for aluminium, only to use it in a pod that we throw away. Side note: Nespresso does recycle their pods, but rather than rely on consumers to do the right thing, wouldn't it be easier to re-use a pod yourself?
Let me introduce you to stainless steel pods. These pods are designed to last, and fit most pod machines allowing you to reuse them over and over again. Not to sound like a broken record, but not only will you be saving the environment, you will also be saving money.
What tips do you have? Share them in the comments below.
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