Over the past few months I have been making small changes to reduce the amount of plastic I consume. Did you know every toothbrush you have used still exists somewhere on the planet? It is a very strange thought to picture them floating around the ocean, washing up on sandy shores or cluttering up banks of rivers. Their plastic is not recyclable. They are still out there somewhere.
And all those coffee dates with friends, what happens to all of those cups?
I have decided to make a personal commitment to reduce the amount of plastic I use in everyday life. Like single use straws, plastic toothbrushes, and to go containers. To do this I have made a few swaps to replace disposable items for ones that are built to last, and to ones that are at least compostable.
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My First Zero Waste Swaps
Zero waste is the practice of reducing the amount of waste that are sent to landfills to nearly zero. While this will be my ultimate goal, I am starting by reducing the amount of plastic I use. Some products I have started buying in glass instead of plastic, and when I have used them up I will reuse the jars and learn how to shop from the bulk sections!
- Safety Razor: My first zero waste swap was buying a stainless steel safety razor. I ditched my bright pink plastic razor and now use a safety razor. As soon as I tried one I wondered why no one had told me about them before. They are so much cheaper than disposable razors, and using one made me feel so much classier. I love using one so much I wrote a whole review about them. >>> Learn more about safety razors.
- Brush with Bamboo: My next swap was to a bamboo toothbrush. I chose to make this swap after watching a video by Brush with Bamboo, called the Journey of a Toothbrush. The video shows a little girl writing her name on her toothbrush, after a few months her mom buys her a fresh toothbrush and tosses her old one, the toothbrush begins it journey. Years later the girl is grown, and she finds her old toothbrush washed up on shore. Every toothbrush we have ever used is still out there. I know I have used A LOT of toothbrushes. I made the switch to bamboo to reduce the amount of plastic chunks I send out into the ocean. Bamboo is compostable over time and the only part of the toothbrush that is not compostable are the bristles. This is not completely free of waste, but it does significantly reduce the amount of plastic in a toothbrush. The brand I am using is called Brush with Bamboo. Mine lasted about 3 months before the bristles started falling out, and I started using a new one. I am saving it to clean with, when I am done with it for good I will send it into the compost!
- Organicup: Another swap I made recently was to a menstrual cup. I had heard about these before but never really thought twice about them until I realized how much pointless waste was created by using plastic tampon applicators. I know there are products without applicators and many cotton only menstrual products, but there are also many products with strange chemicals in them. Organicups are made of 100% medical grade silicone. Each cup lasting up to 10 years. By purchasing one cup I am reducing 10 years of waste. I decided to make the switch to an Organicup this summer. It took a while to get used to but now I love it. It came with a linen bag to keep it in, so I can easily toss it in my purse. There are many brands and options of menstrual cups to choose from, if you are interested in making this switch and need help please email me!
- Shampoo Bar: This swap has been a little tricky for me. I started using a shampoo bar this fall, to ditch the plastic bottles. I bought one bar at the local farmer’s market, and one on Etsy. I have really long hair, when I started using a shampoo bar I stopped using a conditioner. This left my hair really dry and tangly. Trying to brush out the tangles left me with really damaged hair. After this I bought a conditioning bar from LUSH, but didn’t have any improvement. I don’t recommend this switch for everybody. I will keep searching for a solution to a zero waste shampoo and updated you when I find it!
- Loose Leaf Tea: I am a major tea lover. I enjoy a good cup of coffee, but my body does not take well to so much caffeine, so I usually choose tea. Lately I have been making cups of tea in the mornings, afternoons and well every part of the day! I never really realized many tea bag packages are lined with plastic. I have a good collection of loose leaf teas already and I am making the transition to only loose tea. Yesterday I made my first bulk shopping trip to the local tea shop. I haven’t hit the bulk isles of the grocery store with my glass jars yet, but I took a small jar to the tea shop to fill with some Creamy Early Grey. It was so much fun getting tea in a jar, no label, receipt or plastic! I use a tea infuser from Etsy with a little quartz crystal on the chain. It cheers me up with every cup!
- Coffee Shops and Reusable Cups: This summer my parents decided their new hobby was to test out all of the local coffee shops. I took them to my favorite coffee shop in Snohomish called Scarlett’s Hideaway. At Scarlett’s we get to sit down in their cozy shop and drink our warm drinks out of real mugs. It feels like home sharing a warm drink out of real mugs. I now only get tea/coffee when I get to sit down and enjoy it out of a real cup. It has become a fun hobby to go out in search of new coffee shops. If I want a drink to-go I bring my own cup! At some coffee shops I felt awkward ordering with my own cup at first, but at Starbucks you get 10 cents off for bringing your own cup, so the awkwardness faded quickly.
- Hydroflask Water Bottle: This is probably my first real zero waste switch but I started this one unintentionally. Caring a water bottle reduces the need to go out and spend money on a plastic water bottle. My sister bought me a Hydroflask. At first I never wanted to take such a nice water bottle with me to work on the farm. I thought it would get lost, stolen or damaged. Then I realized it served no purpose being left at home. So I started bringing it everywhere with me. I was surprised how good the water tasted out of it, no metal taste. The design of the Hydroflask allows you to fill it with hot or cold drinks. I really fell in love with it when I left it in the greenhouse on a hot summer day. The surface of the metal was hot from the surrounding air, but the water inside was still as cold as when I filled it! I was finally sold on its price. So far my Hydroflask has survived a year of farm work with me, including being dropped from the roof of my car. So far so good water bottle friend.
Going zero waste will take me a while to figure out. It will also take my family a while to understand. So far it has really bothered my family that my hair is sometimes greasy as I test out shampoos. Or that I want to choose a coffee shop based on whether or not I can order a London Fog in a real cup. But it is an adventure that I am committed to and excited about! Anyone want to join me? I already have a few friends excited about it, and they are making changes with me.
Have you ever considered how much you throw away each week? What are some zero waste swaps you have made? What could you do today to reduce one piece of plastic in your life?
Any questions? Please feel free to leave one in the comments.