Zero Waste Week is next week – but what about the week after, and the one after that? It is wonderful to replace those single use plastic bags with a nice-looking canvas tote, then post a great photo of yourself using it on Instagram. But how can we all make longer-lasting, more impactful changes to our consumer habits? Preferably without breaking the bank either?
Our first tip is to be realistic. Unfortunately, it's very unlikely that most of us will be able to completely eliminate all waste from their lives. For example, bulk shopping is gaining in popularity, but zero waste shops are few and far between – even in London, we've counted just four shops that are wholly dedicated to stocking bulk produce. Budgens is currently the only UK supermarket chain offering bulk produce.
So, unless you live next to a bulk buy shop, you'll probably still have to buy packets of rice and pasta. Rather than feeling defeated, though, we recommend making the following simple three changes that will definitely have a positive waste reducing impact.
1. Switch to a bamboo toothbrush
It can't be emphasised enough how harmful plastic toothbrushes are to the environment. The people of the US alone throw away a billion toothbrushes a year. A billion. And they don't biodegrade. Bamboo toothbrushes (opens in new tab) are now very easy to buy online and in pharmacies, and don't cost any more than plastic ones.
2. Get reusable silicone bags and shop at your local butcher
Those of us who are trying really hard to reduce our food packaging waste will be familiar with the feeling of despair when having to purchase yet another fish fillet or steak sealed in a non-recyclable plastic container. Fond of your local butcher's or fishmonger's? Most of them will still wrap your produce in a single-use plastic bag. There is a solution, even if it'll take some getting used to (you will get a funny look or two from the butcher, we promise you that). Reusable silicone seal bags (opens in new tab): they are completely leak proof, super-easy to wash (pop them in the dishwasher), and great for storing your food in the fridge. And, unlike plastic, silicone will eventually biodegrade when you're done with them.
3. Ditch plastic baby wipes
We covered the issue of plastic-laden baby wipes a few weeks ago – they take a century to decompose, they choke our waterways and sewage systems, and they're terrible for your skin (or you baby's skin, if that's how you're using them). If you like the convenience, switch to plastic-free, biodegradable (opens in new tab) ones.
Want more tips on living in a more environmentally friendly way? Head to our eco hub page.