I started my zero waste journey almost two months ago, and I think that I’ve already made some great progress on minimizing my negative impact on the environment. I am by no means perfect yet, but this lifestyle has opened me up to a new way of thinking and let me flex my problem-solving muscles a bit in my brain. So after two months, here are some of the best swaps that I have made so far.
Reusable Shopping Totes
This is a pretty simple swap that I think everyone could make and should make. It is always so great to see the look on a cashier’s face when you tell them that you brought your own bag. For the most part, they look happy and kind of like they are proud of you for doing some good for the environment. It also kind of rubs off on the people around you. I was standing in the express line for 20 items or less, and took my reusable bag out of my purse while I was waiting. The lady behind me saw what I was doing, said, “Oh, that’s a great idea,” and she actually got out of line to walk over to the little stand where you could grab a reusable bag for 50 cents. Like that honestly made me feel so good about what I was doing and like I was actually effecting some change in the world.
I was using shampoo bars a little before I decided to try my year long zero waste challenge, but it wasn’t until mid-January that I really found the perfect bar for me. Shampoo bars are really a hit or miss kind of product because of how differently the formulas are from brand to brand and how they react with your hair and your scalp. I got lucky finding my perfect brand so fast, and I am totally in love with my Ethique Heali Kiwi shampoo bar and Wonderbar conditioner bar.
The Heali Kiwi bar really helps me out with my dandruff and the Wonderbar is great because it can pull double duty as a conditioner and a shaving bar. I’ve also noticed that since using shampoo bars instead of liquid shampoos that my hair grows much faster, although that may also have something to do with my healthier eating habits and exercise. However, I do think that the bars help a little bit, since they use more natural ingredients and don’t strip your hair of oils and nutrients as much as liquid shampoo.
Loose Leaf Tea
I have been drinking tea instead of soda pop in order to get the caffeine that I need for the day, and instead of using a tea bag, I bought a reusable tea strainer and loose leaf tea. Honestly, I get some weird looks from some of the other students when I whip out my strainer and jar of loose leaf tea, but I know that by doing this, I’m starting a conversation about what is important to me and maybe even helping people reassess what they think is normal.
So I use washcloths for a multitude of things now that I used to use a disposable product for. I didn’t see the real effectiveness of buying reusable cotton rounds, so I just use my washcloths now to remove makeup and apply toner. I also am trying to use up all of my disposable disinfectant wipes so I can start using washcloths to clean, and I’m also looking to make some DIY all-purpose cleaner to use in my dorm room.
Solid Face Cleanser
This was an unexpected swap that I ended up making just a couple of weeks ago. On a whim, I went to the face wash aisle in Walmart to see if there was possibly anything that I could find not in plastic packaging, and I did! I found a face cleansing bar by the company Cleen Beauty. It just came in a cardboard box and was made with ingredients that I could understand. It honestly kind of also does the same job as a toner, so I’m thinking about ditching using toner all together once I run out of what I’m using now.
I already wrote a whole review on this razor before, which you can read if you want here. But guys, it is seriously the best shave I have ever had in my life. And I don’t even worry about knicking myself when I shave anymore, because this razor is so good at its job that I have yet to do so. I change the blades about every month and a half, and it is honestly the best investment I have probably made for myself. The only thing that I hate about this razor is the how scared I am to lose it!
So I have been trying so hard to only buy foods in sustainable packaging, and jarred foods have been the easiest to find. But what I love most about buying these jarred foods is mostly the fact that I get to keep the jar afterwards and use it for whatever I want. I use a few of the bigger jars as drinking glasses, and smaller ones for storage of stuff like granola and loose leaf tea. I have even a couple really dinky jars that I like to use to help start water propagating some of my plants. It’s just super nice to be able to reuse something and give it a second life.