Where it all started
It has taken a few years but here are the 20 Zero-Waste switches we have made in our home so far.
”Buy less, choose wise, make it last”
I can’t remember where it all started, maybe it was the tiny seahorse with the earbud or the tortoise with the straw up its nose. There are so many videos and pictures on the internet about animals suffering because of our waste. But I remember a shift in my mindset and the realization that we are responsible for this and must do our part.
That was about four years ago, I am glad to so say I have made some changes. I also had the privilege of creating content for Unwrappedco a zero-waste store in 2021 and learned so much through that experience.
Bea Johnson’s book has also been a great inspiration. Her zero-waste moto:
Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot has inspired millions of people to make changes to their consumption.
Although I admire her commitment it is just not always practical to be completely zero-waste especially here in South Africa where life is much more demanding and we are in a constant haze of survival mode. And so yes, being zero-waste is not always on top of my list if I need to grab food from the supermarket and there is load-shedding in 30 minutes for example.
There is so much I can still improve on but here is my list of 20 changes we have made and stuck to for the last couple of years.
I have not looked back since we started using the Eco-egg, it works wonders! It clean’s well, saves us money, and saves the earth. I even take my eco-egg with us on holiday. The mineral pebbles draw out the dirt of your washing and change the ph of the water giving a lovely fresh smell to your washing. This is a non-biological cleaner.
I just love my spaza wraps, I have about 5 different sizes and use them to cover leftovers, salad’s for a braai, etc. Just wash and use again. And the bonus part, they are absolutely gorgeous.
I have three Stasher bags but would love to grow the collection. I freeze bananas in mine for smoothies, I use the large one with a flat base to freeze soups in. I take them on holiday. They are great for a medicine bag or for snacks. The uses are endless.
They work really well, I use them to apply toner and just wash them after each use.
They are readily available at most pharmacies and even supermarkets. They are still affordable and not ridiculously expensive.
Once we are done with the toothbrushes, I keep some of them to clean hard-to-reach places in the bathroom and kitchen. They are compostable once the bristles have been removed.
This one has been a real game-changer and I have stuck to this habit for the last year. These tablets work so well and save us a lot of money.
Try this recipe to make your own bathroom spray with Witch hazel and essential oil.
I use Oxygen Bleach for cleaning the toilet and to add it to the washing machine for my whites. I also use the clean bathroom and kitchen sink.
These brushes work so well and last a few years. After that, they can be composted.
I get most of my dry ingredients from Unwrapped. co but you could also get it from the Refillery in Johannesburg or from Nude foods in Cape Town. It takes a bit of planning at first, but you soon get used to this shopping experience, the bonus. Your pantry will look tidy and organised.
Instead of buying plastic bottles of handsoap I just order handsoap from Unwrapped. co in glass bottles. But you can also get it refilled at the Refillery and Nude foods in Cape Town. If you don’t have a zero-waste store close by, even just buying in bulk will save a few bottles from landfill.
I have found the most practical option to keep the Woolworths small foldable bags in my handbag. That way I never forget the bags in my car.
I have tried other sanitary products like menstrual cups, but it was so uncomfortable. And I have not explored that option further. These sanitary pads are not completely zero-waste, but they are a much more eco-friendly option and really affordable. I also love the simple craft packaging that is compostable.
I don’t use straws often but re-use my bamboo straws for photoshoots and now also keep stainless steel straws in our picnic bag.
- We also switched our dishwashing soap to triple orange that we get in a refillable jar from Unwrapped.co
This is a great soap for washing dishes. It smells amazing and cleans well. I also use it to make dishwasher tablets.
This has been such a game changer for me in terms of organisation in our home and fridge. They don’t get damaged. They stack really well and can go in the freezer, fridge, oven, microwave, and dishwasher. And after four years we have not lost a lid. I do not own any small plastic containers anymore. But still kept 2 large ones for holiday baking.
These mats last a really long time. So no need to use parchment paper anymore.
They are great for muffins, crafts, and lunch boxes. Just wash and use again.
We don’t have any plastic water bottles. I find them not very practical. They don’t keep water cold and they get damaged easily. They are rarely BPA free. My favourite water bottles are these from Decathlon and I also really like these bottles from My Crunchbox
These lunch boxes are fantastic!! I bought ours three years ago. They have not broken have not really scratched, the covers are still perfect! We have never had a spill, and I put yogurt in them. They are an investment but I don’t have to replace lunchboxes every year and the compartments force me to pack creative snacks for my children.
These water filters work really if you don’t want to invest in a filtering system just yet. They can even remove E-coli from water. But it takes a bit of discipline to remember to fill them up.
As I said these changes did not take place overnight. And it does take an initial investment to get going. But I am so happy with these changes we have made. Unfortunately, we can’t be zero-waste at all cost because some of the products are x3 the price of what you will pay in a supermarket. Toothpaste has been a tough one because the zero-waste ones are like really expensive.
I have also not transitioned to shampoo bars, because my hair feels like grass after I have used them for a while.
But let me know if you have any great recommendations.