struggles and triumphs with reducing waste
The moment I saw a National Geographic picture of a turtle with a straw up its nose, I decided that
(a) I loved turtles
(b) No turtle should live its turtle life with a straw up its nose
(c) I would reduce my reliance on single-use plastics like straws, but also on items that were designed to be disposed (paper towels, pads, panty liners, tampons, cotton facial rounds, etc)
I’m acutely aware that because of Aro, we create a lot of waste in the form of disposable nappies, wipes, those food pouches he loves, and other kid paraphernalia. This makes it even more important to tip the balance in favour of reusable products.
I’ve listed some of the changes I’ve made that I have found fairly easy to manage, reasonably convenient, and has saved money in the long run:
Using Lily Bee beeswax wraps instead of Glad wrap and sandwich bags. Not only are beeswax wraps cuter to look at, they also keep food fresher for longer. If you need to microwave food or stack something in the fridge, put a plate on top. Easy.
For food storage, I use Sistema containers which I’ve found durable, long-lasting, and good at keeping food fresh. I also have a stash of Kai Carrier reusable food pouches for things like yogurt and soup on the go.
We wash dishes with a Redecker dish brush instead of a plastic dish brush. We’ve had ours for years. It has a replaceable head which lasts longer than a plastic dish brush.
I consciously say no to plastic bags in favour of totes, spaghetti bags, and dust bags. I use dust bags for produce and spaghetti bags for general use. It takes a while to form the habit of taking a reusable bag with you whenever you head out but worth the effort. I’ve found the spaghetti bags take up the least amount of room in bag for the maximum amount of potential carrying power.
I love my reusable Frank Green coffee cup. I’ve found that it seals better than the Keep Cup and I like the screw top. This is important because Aro uses his teeth to pop caps off containers. A lot of places also give you a 50 cent discount off your coffee if you bring your own cup.
Using reusable straws or just reusing the plastic straw you could not avoid. I’ve ordered a set of straws with little cleaning brushes from Wish. I’m most guilty of using straws when buying bubble tea.
Swapping disposable cotton facial pads for reusable cotton facial rounds. I bought a 16 pack from Amazon here. You can put them in the washing machine to clean.
My Swell water bottle has saved me from buying bottled water many, many times. If I don’t have my water bottle, I don’t buy water.
We used to rely on paper towels and napkins for general clean-up and for meals. Now, we have a bunch of microfibre towels, Aro’s old baby washcloths, and cut up old towels to wipe surfaces down. Instead of napkins, we use vintage cloth napkins which I collected for my wedding.
Switching to a menstrual cup (I use the Hello cup). I cannot recommend this enough. I’ve used a cup for four cycles now and it has truly made getting my period less of a hassle in every way possible. I still use a couple of panty liners on my heavy days but I intend to stop replying on those by trying out She Thinx underwear or buying a couple of washable panty liners.
Here’s what I struggle with:
I cannot stomach the thought of disposable nappies even though I know I should at least try it.
I haven’t found a solution for garbage disposal. We use plastic bags to sort recycling and Glad bags for the kitchen bin. We don’t have a garden so composting isn’t an immediate option. I have looked into indoor composting bins but get worried about smell and organising where to dump the compost. For now, we buy compostable bin bags.
I am not organised enough to hit up the bulk buying bins in order to reuse containers for oil, dishwashing liquids, washing liquids, handwash etc. There aren’t many places to do that in the city other than Commonsense Organics and Good Housekeeping. I think I managed to refill olive oil at Commonsense Organics ONCE!
We do a lot of washing! At least once a day! Three times on a bad day. Obviously, part of that is because we now use cloth products that need to be washed frequently. Our washing machine has an ECO setting which means longer washing time that uses less water. I also make sure that every wash contains a full to almost bursting load. On the upside, we do not own a dryer because I am anti-dryer for a peculiar, irrational reason that makes total sense to me.
I have a skincare, health and beauty product addiction. I love what Ethique is doing in terms of reducing plastic bottle waste. I use and stand by their deodarant bar but other than that, I am truly struggling with my stash. Currently, I’ve imposed a personal ban on buying anything new if I already have something similar (including sample-sized products!)