This post is not about going completely zero waste at home because I do not think this is something we can pretend whatsoever or that we will achieve anytime soon, we are not perfect. And I will not write a long speech about green life, or ecology either.
This is more about our efforts at diminishing the amount of waste found in everyday little things. These are small efforts, yes, but I feel like if I share a bit about ways to reduce the amount of plastic and paper waste at home, it might be helpful for those of you who would like ideas on how to do this, even one small step at a time.
There is quite a bit of plastic and paper waste that can be avoided when it comes to everyday things like: drinking water, cleaning the house, wrapping and covering food etc. The following solutions are the small things we have improved at home as an effort to reduce waste as much as we can. Both our waste and recycling bins have been filling up much less since we started this.
Here are the things that have helped our effort to use more eco-friendly products:
2- Cloth napkins: we have stopped buying disposable paper napkins. My problem with paper napkins is they are going to be used which means they will be contaminated and not recyclable whatsoever. It basically just fills up the trash. It also feels nicer to put a proper cloth napkin by a plate rather than a small piece of paper. Once used they can go in the wash. The paper napkin will just go to landfill.
3- Ecoegg reusable bamboo towels: as I said above, we are not perfect so until recently we had been buying rolls of kitchen paper. I finally ordered a roll of reusable bamboo towels and after a few weeks of using them, I can say those are really great. You get a lot of use out of them around the house (cleaning, wiping surfaces, dusting) and each towel is washable up to 85 times. We just use ours on an everyday basis then put them in the wash with the rest of our laundry (not clothes but things like bath towels, tea towels etc.).
4- Homemade kitchen/bathroom cleaner: when it comes to cleaning the house (dishes, floors, bathroom), we use an eco-friendly brand of products. However, our cleaning spray, for surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom, is homemade: it consists of 1 part white vinegar, 2 parts cold water, 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda (to be added in carefully - which I didn't on a couple of occasions and had to look at a mini volcano spilling all over the kitchen counter) and 15 drops of essential oil (I use a lemon one because I like the scent - skip the essential oil if you have small children and/or pets at home). For the bathroom, I also make the same mix but with equal amount of white vinegar and water.
5- Bee's Wrap: I started hearing a lot about this product last Summer. This is an eco-friendly alternative to cling film. Two things annoy me very much about cling film: it is plastic waste (a lot of it) and whatever way I try to unroll a piece of it, it always ends up stuck to my hands or sticking together instead of staying straight (resulting in quite a bit of frustration...). We got a packet of Bee's Wrap while visiting a zero waste shop in Toulouse last September and since then, we have never bought cling film again. I even purchased a second packet so we have enough to cover dishes and food items (you can get it in various sizes). The wrap itself is made of organic cotton and beeswax. You grab a piece and warm it between your hands then wrap it over a piece of food (fruit, cheese, etc.), bowl or dish. You can wash and reuse it for up to a year and then it can be composted. How good is that?! Plus, it smells really nice.
6- Toothpicks, drink stirrers, drinking straws etc. : there has been a lot of talk and articles about disposable plastic straws and drink stirrers lately. When we go out for a drink, I ask not to get those. At home, we use a stainless steel stirrer for drinks and little reusable toothpicks for olives and other apéritif items. We got them in Japan after we noticed that the places where we ordered drinks always had those reusable options (or even natural stirrers such as a small branch of lemon thyme in a cocktail for example). As for straws, we do not have the need for them at home but there are plenty of reusable options available (stainless steel, bamboo...).
7- Reusable cleansing wipes: I bought those in a pharmacy in France on our last trip there. I had spotted this specific brand in many French blogs and the overall feel was that it was a good product. I know they are called wipes but they are more like the shapes of round cotton pads. I use them to apply micellar water on my face in the morning and to remove make up in the evening. Once used I put the little wipe in a small net and it goes with the rest of the used wipes to be washed in the next laundry batch (up to 40°C wash). It has reduced my usage of regular cotton pads by quite a lot, hence less waste in the bathroom bin too.
8 - Not pictured here but we always carry tote bags with us when doing grocery shopping. I also always have a nice fabric bag folded in my handbag so whenever I go shopping for other things than food (toiletries, pharmacy, clothes), I ask not to be given any paper bag. In terms of waste it is great but in terms of storage at home it is even better, no more accumulation of many many paper and plastic bags in the press under the sink.
Do you use any of the products above? What else do you recommend in terms of eco-friendly things for the home?