Low Waste Living For Beginners
The journey to low waste can be different for everyone. I know I feel like I'm still at the start of my journey at times, wondering if I'm really making a difference. Sometimes I have to remind myself that once my partner and I buy a place and move, I'll have the perfect opportunity to incorporate more low waste products into our lives.
For now, I do what I can, where I can; making notes of what I want to improve and when I can do so.
If you have any beginner-friendly advice, be sure to share it with me in the comments below!
At the beginning of the month, I went to our local range store and treated myself to a 650ml glass water bottle. Since getting it, I have used it daily. Filling it up when I make myself a hot drink so I always have a drink to reach for.
As we're still in a pandemic, I haven't had much need to leave the house other than the odd trip to the shops. But, my hope is to start bringing it with me on walks, trips to the park, or anywhere I may find myself needing a drink. That way I'll not only have water at the ready but save some money and avoid buying extra plastic.
Can You Swap For Reusable?
While glass water bottles are a perfect fit for here, it felt right keeping it separate.
People don't always have the money to buy long lasting reusable items (My bottle was £6.99, something I had put off getting the month before) and instead need cheaper alternatives. I want to tell you that that is okay. I recently bought more plastic tupperware because I need them. I also invested in some glass containers because I bought them from a store that sells them cheaper. If you think that you can make the investment and get something that will last longer — if not a lifetime — then go for it.
Smol, a brand focused on plastic-free washing products, released a cleaning spray set which includes three glass bottles and tabs that you throw in the designated bottled (they're labelled) and add water. When you eventually run out of refills, you order more. No liquid is shipped and the bottles last you for life.
Instead of plastic lunchboxes, you could try reusable sandwich wraps and snack pouches. Sew It Wild make all of their products by hand, including handkerchiefs, cotton face pads, and even hair bobbles!
There's also the DIY approach.
Instead of clingfilm, you can buy or make reusable beeswax wraps. (I plan to try DIYing them soon!) Use bar towels or old shirts/towels as reusable kitchen roll. (This is a 'when I have my own home' project) Nice handkerchiefs used as napkins at the dinner table?
Prices will vary and the DIY approach depends on whether or not you want to make them yourself (not everybody does!) but there's no harm in taking a look at what you already use and asking yourself if there's a better option out there.
Where Do You Want To Reduce?
What area of the house do you want to reduce waste in first? I've talked before about how you should wait until products are empty, that way the least amount of waste is caused overall.
Make a list of where you most want to reduce waste in your home. Is it the kitchen? The laundry? The bathroom?
Low waste living isn't just about having things you don't need to throw away, but it's also repurposing what you have, giving it a new life, or final life as something else. I talk about how you can reuse items such as toilet rolls in the garden in my post How I'm Working To Reduce My Waste.
It Isn't Go Big or Go Home
Remember this isn't a race to make the changes. You don't need to rush into any of it. Take your time, make the changes that are important to you when they're ready to happen.
There's a nice saying I like to remind myself of from time to time, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without,"
Build it up over time, that'll prevent overwhelm, give you the time to find products you want to use and swap for.
Even as I write and edit this blog post, I'm looking and occasionally stumbling across low waste or plastic-free products that I'm making a note of to try once I have less of the product it's designed to replace. I try when I can, when I know I can afford to.
I definitely think there's a privilege to being able to reduce your waste that isn't often spoken about. I see it in the products I want to get, to add to the growing collection. How I have to hold back instead because we can't afford it at that moment in time. How plastic-wrapped food has a better value than the loose, package-free produce in supermarkets.
It's frustrating, but I know I'm doing the best I can right now. Even when I wasn't able to, I'd learn about products, see what interested me and try to make a note to look at again in the future. I've signed up to sites such as Olio, where others like myself in my local community share unwanted food and items. Preventing food waste and giving items a new lease of life.
What do you do for low waste? What do you aim to do one day?