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Shifting to Zero-Waste Living

I am trying to be a better human. I eat a mostly vegan diet because I don’t like the idea of an animal suffering for my lunch, and after seeing this turtle suffer, I never want to use a plastic straw again. Inspired by videos about zero-waste living and zero-waste beauty options, I’ve looked at the products I use on a daily basis, and tried to shift to more zero-waste products. I wanted to share some of the little changes I’ve made in my everyday life.

Please note, some of these items have affiliate links. This means if you follow the link and make a purchase, you pay the same as everyone else, but I get a small commission. Any link marked with an asterisk (*) is an affiliate link.

In the Bathroom

Plastic-Free Toilet Paper: It is difficult to find toilet paper where the rolls come wrapped in paper, not plastic, and they don’t come in a 48-roll box. I don’t want a year supply of toilet paper in my home. So far, I’ve only found individual paper-wrapped rolls for sale at Sprouts.

Zero-Waste Personal Products

Bamboo Toothbrush: We’re supposed to get a new toothbrush every three months. I was so happy to find bamboo toothbrushes*, in paper packaging. They come four to a box, and each toothbrush is numbered, so if you have multiple people in your house using them, you can avoid accidentally using someone else’s toothbrush. They have the same durability as any other toothbrush I’ve used.

Zero-Waste Deodorant:  No more plastic containers of deodorant for me. My zero-waste deodorant* comes in a glass jar. You use the little spatula in the jar to scoop a little onto your fingers and then put it on your armpits like lotion. It’s a deodorant, not an anti-perspirant, so it doesn’t stop you from sweating, but you don’t smell when you do.

Menstrual Cup: I will hopefully never have to buy tampons again. The menstrual cup* is a game-changer. Instead of using and throwing away three to six tampons a day during my cycle, I wear this reusable silicon cup inside my body and empty it two to three times a day. It took a few days to figure out the best way to remove it each time, but now it’s easy and convenient to use. Within a few months, this this has paid for itself because I haven’t had to buy tampons.

Safety Razor: I’ve always used razor cartridges that contained plastic, and I wanted to try an all-metal safety razor*. The angle is completely different than other razors I’ve used, and it’s just an exposed blade that’s cutting your hair. It’s easier to nick yourself. I still use my other razor for my armpits and bikini line, at least for now.

Shampoo Bar: This shampoo bar* works great. I rub it on the top my head a few times to build up a lather and spread it to all of my hair. I suspect it could last longer than a typical bottle of shampoo.

Around the House

Laundry Soap in a Box: Do you know how hard it is to find laundry soap that doesn’t come in a plastic bottle or a pod? It was challenging to find laundry powder* that comes in a recyclable box, but I found it. It works just fine.

Reusable Food Containers: I still have resealable plastic bags in my home, and I do use them on occasion, but I try to use reusable glass containers*, and sometimes plastic containers I’ve had for years, instead of single-use bags. When I use plastic bags, I try to reuse them whenever possible.

At the Office and Professional Outings

Bring my Recyclables Home: My office doesn’t recycle, so I bring home papers that don’t need to be shredded so they can be recycled. I have a designated pocket in my backpack for paper to be recycled.

BYO Silverware: The office kitchen has single-use plastic silverware. Instead of using those, I keep a regular spoon and a fork at my desk for eating my lunch and snacks.

BYO Water Bottle: I bring my own water bottle from home so I don’t have to drink water in plastic bottles.

Metal Travel Mug: I have two ceramic mugs at my desk that I use to hold hot beverages and snacks, but I also have a metal travel mug* that I use when going out for coffee or attending events so I don’t have to use a single-use cup and plastic lid.

Reusable Spork: One thing that is always in my backpack is my fold-able reusable spork* so I don’t have to use plastic silverware when I go to conferences.

Grocery Shopping

Rosie’s Chicken in Pyrex, fresh from the market

BYO Container for Meat: When I buy Rosie’s chicken, instead of buying meat in plastic and Styrofoam, I prefer to go to the meat counter and have them weigh the product and put it in a reusable glass container* I brought from home.

BYO Jars for Bulk Foods: I like shopping in the bulk foods section at Sprouts. I bring my pre-weighed glass jars to get what I need. I label each jar with the weight of the empty jar so the cashier can take off that weight and only charge me for the product at check-out.

Reusable Produce Bags: These reusable washable mesh bags are fantastic for produce. If a store gives a discount for bringing your own tote bags, they often give me a discount for each produce bag and jar I use.

What’s Next

Going forward, I want to keep exploring options to be a better steward to the planet. I want to try composting, but have substantial doubts about my ability to maintain my own composting bin, so I’m more likely to try a composting service.

I will also keep an eye out for zero-waste or plastic-free products. Once I run out of liquid hand soap, I’ll switch over to bar soap. I am interested in finding a zero-waste moisturizer. Putting coconut oil on my face sounds like a breakout waiting to happen. As I go through my day, I try to stay aware of when I use plastic products and look for zero-waste alternatives and/or ask brands to change to more sustainable packaging.

2 Comments

  1. Luis Medilo says:

    Didn’t know that there’s a thing like a bamboo toothbrush.

    1. Ruth Carter says:

      Yes, and they work just as well as a regular toothbrush!