Zero Waste Living: 15 Things I Reuse (And One I Don’t)
It’s Zero Waste Week on 7th – 13th September this year, and once again I’ve signed up to be an ambassador of this awesome initiative. Of course I’ll still be talking about waste on the other 51 weeks of the year (you know me!), but I do love it when a community really gets together to draw attention to the subject, the issues and the solutions, and it’s such a great opportunity to spread the zero waste message just that little bit further ; )
This year the topic is “Reuse”. As someone who strives to be zero waste, I love to reuse things! It eliminates a lot of waste, but also a lot of spending on unnecessary things, and a fair amount of clutter too. Who wouldn’t want to get the most use out of the things they own?!
15 things that I swear by to live my Zero Waste lifestyle…
1. A reusable coffee cup.
Even if you don’t drink takeaway coffee, I think owning one of these is invaluable. I carry mine with me always. It’s useful for getting water from public water fountains or if you go into a cafe and find they only serve takeaway cups. If you fly, it’s great for drinking any kind of drink in a plane. I’ve also used mine at parties where wine was served in disposable wine glasses. If I’m buying ice cream I’ll use the cup rather than one of their disposable ones. Plus, because it was a lid, it’s great as an impromptu container.
2. Reusable bags.
I was on the “bring my own bag to the supermarket” train back in the early 2000s, and would pack all my plastic-packaged goods into my own reusable tote – “oh no, I don’t need a bag!” Little did it occur to me that I could use reusable cloth / mesh bags for the produce I was putting inside the tote! Even if bulk stores aren’t local to you, reusable bags are great for buying loose fresh produce.
Reusable bags aren’t just for food shopping either! You can use that same reusable tote for other shops too. These days I always take my own bag to clothes shops, hardware shops, kitchenware shops…anywhere where I need to pick something up.
3. A water bottle.
This is a total no-brainer for me. Aside from the fact that bottled water is predominantly unregulated and plastic leaches chemicals into the water (not to mention the ethics of bottling water in drought-stricken regions like California or countries where most of the population don’t have access to safe drinking water like Fiji), sucking water out of the ground trucking water across states and even across countries is a huge and unnecessary waste of resources. Most of us have access to municipal water at a fraction of the cost (as much as 300x cheaper). If you really don’t like chlorine or fluoride, it’s possible to get a water filter fitted.
If you’re in any doubt about bottled water, watch the documentary Tapped.
4. Reusable Cutlery.
I have a nifty little bamboo set that was a gift, but you can also find metal camping sets, and charity shops always have plenty of cutlery too if you want to avoid buying new. Alternatively, use what you already have in the kitchen! My set contains a knife, a fork, a spoon and a set of chopsticks. Plastic cutlery often isn’t fit for the purpose – have you ever tried to cut anything with a disposable plastic knife?! I’ve successfully peeled and de-stoned a mango with my wooden knife!
5. A Reusable Straw.
Whilst I don’t use straws often, I think that single use straws are up there as the most wasteful plastic items out there. They are also one of the top 10 items found in beach clean ups. I have a stainless steel one which I keep in my cutlery pouch, and a glass one which I prefer, and came with its own cleaning brush. Carrying a straw means I’m never caught out, but also it’s handy to lend to friends! I know from experience that there are a few drinks that need straws – icy drinks like dacquiris and fresh coconuts, for example.
6. Reusable Containers.
Just as it never occurred to me for years to bring my own reusable produce bags to the shops, it never occurred to me to bring my own containers, either. Now I take reusable containers (pyrex, stainless steel, glass jars and occasionally plastic) to the deli, bulk stores, Farmers Market and bakery to avoid any unnecessary packaging. It certainly makes unpacking much easier – everything goes straight in the fridge / on the shelf!
I also find them great for storing leftovers, keeping perishables fresher, and freezing food, as well as great containers for non-food items.
7. Cloth Wraps.
Containers are great, but bulky and not always practical – and if you stick to glass and stainless steel, they are fairly costly too! I have some reusable wraps (another gift) that I use carry lunch or snacks when space (or weight) it at a premium. They are also great for purchasing food to-go from cafes and avoid paper bags. If you don’t want to buy new ones you can make your own using old material (reuse…yay!) and beeswax (soy wax should work if you’re vegan). Find a tutorial for making your own beeswax wraps here. They are also great for keeping fresh herbs and salad leaves fresher in the fridge, and can be shaped and molded to cover bowls for leftovers.
8. Old Clothes.
Whilst I’d love to learn, I’m no sewer, and cannot whip an old worn shirt into a snazzy waistcoat or other wondrous design as seen on Pinterest. I can darn holes, and that’s it. Once my clothes are truly worn and past repair, they can still be reused. If you’re feeling creative, make into reusable food wraps (see above). I cut them into rags, where they begin life as dishcloths. As they wear further they are downgraded to kitchen surface cleaning cloths, bathroom cleaning cloths, floor cleaning cloths and finally toilet or bike cleaning cloths.
In the past I’ve been sucked in and purchased those “eco friendly” cleaning cloths. This makes no sense when I have suitable fabric at home that costs me nothing and wastes no new resources!
9. Old Towels.
You can cut up old towels as mentioned above, but another great use for worn towels and bed sheets is to donate them to animal shelters. They are always in need of them, and it might be a better use than cutting that bath sheet up into 62,000 dish cloths that you’ll be using for the next 15 years!
10. Reusable Cotton Rounds.
When I was a kid, I used a flannel to wash my face. As I grew into a teenager I began using disposable cotton rounds (or cotton wool) to clean my face (which chemical-laden cleansers) and to remove make-up. That clever marketing got to me! These days I use good quality soap, I have reverted back to a flannel and I have reusable fabric rounds for removing make-up, which I throw in the washing machine and re-use. You can buy these or Etsy, or if you’re crafty make your own from old clothes (see # 8).
11. A Body Brush.
Body brushing is great for increasing circulation and removing dead skin cells, and saves buying another product for the bathroom – particularly as these exfoliating products often come in non- or only partically-recyclable containers… and commonly contain plastic microbeads to act as the exfoliant!
Once my toothbrush is no longer fit for using to clean my teeth, it gets relegated to the cleaning basket. Toothbrushes are great for cleaning grouting, tiles, awkward corners, taps and other fiddly places, and also for cleaning bikes.
13. Baking Paper.
I’ve had this debate a few times in Instagram and Facebook – if I’m zero waste should I be using baking paper at all? Which led me to write about The Rules, and conclude that whilst it might not be the most zero waste thing to do, it does mean my homemade chocolate brownies are infinitely more delicious. Maybe in the future I’ll change, but for now it stays. That said, I use it very sparingly, and yes, I reuse it. I find a quick wipe when it’s just come out the oven is enough to clean it, and there’s always the other side. I bake often, so it doesn’t end up hanging around for too long. When it’s finished, I use it to make worm farm bedding so it doesn’t go in the bin.
14. A Hankerchief.
We don’t buy tissues for our home. Instead, I use a handkerchief. My dad has always used a hankerchief, and as a kid I used to think it was completely gross. Isn’t it funny how you grow up and realise that a lot of what your parents did (and said, and told you to do) was actually not as daft as you thought?! (Note – don’t ever tell them I said that!) I started using one when I realised that you couldn’t buy boxes of tissues without the plastic around the dispensing hole. Then I realised that hankies make so much more sense, and they are far softer on the nose than any of those cleverly marketed and relatively expensive fancypants tissues ; )
15. Old Envelopes.
You can have a “No Junk Mail” sticker on your mailbox, and switch to paperless billing, and still people keep sending you stuff in the post. Grr! I use the envelopes as notebooks, to write shopping lists (pinned onto the fridge door) and I cut out squares of blank paper which I use to stick over the address to reuse other envelopes and mailing bags that I’ve received. Reuse is better than recycling, and I never need to buy these things!
…and One I Don’t.
- There’s one reusable item that some zero-wasters have adopted which I haven’t, and that is…reusable toilet paper (cloth wipes). It’s just not gonna happen in our house. I’m not opposed to the principle (although my husband draws the line here), but I think the constant need to keep up with the laundry (and bear in mind we live in a city with 40°C summers and no air con in our home) means the hygiene factor wins. I’m sure it works for some people, but it won’t be working for us!
The thing about “reusing”; it doesn’t have to be about getting creative with empty bottles of dishwashing liquid and old toilet rolls. It’s as much about the everyday stuff that we use every day. Plus, because it’s stuff we use every day, being able to reuse (rather than buying new and then discarding to landfill) has a far bigger impact – on our wallets, on the way we use our time, and on the environment. Why would you want to live any other way?!
Now I want to hear from you! What are your favourite things to reuse? What would you add to the list…or is there anything you’d add to the “No Go” list?! What have you found the most helpful in your zero waste journey? What has been the biggest struggle? Are you tempted to take part in Zero Waste Week this year, or have you already signed up and if so, what’s your personal challenge?! I love hearing your thoughts so please tell me in the comments below!
This is brilliant, thank you! So clear, and easy for me to see which things I’ve still got to start. A big challenge for me currently is butter/margarine. I’m currently buying it in a recyclable plastic tub but don’t have a need for these when they’re empty and would rather not have to recycle them! Any suggestions?
Just get butter wrapped in paper, its much better for you than plastic margarine anyway
I would say exactly what Julia said! Butter is far healthier for you – it’s natural rather than man-made…and you can find it wrapped in paper which is compostable. Or you can find ghee in glass or tins (and ghee is better for you again!)
Your butter wrapper is a great liner for baking tins.
Reuse it, then compost
If you must have marg & cant change, wash and collect a few then ask a local playgroup or kindy.
I blend the butter (bought in paper) with a bit of oil (rice bran, grapeseed) and this makes it more spreadable from the fridge in the Australian summer when you can’t leave it out
I make my own butter from cream, in my thermomix. It tastes so much better, I can add grapeseed oil to make it softer in winter and never need to store it in plastic
Great post. I LOVE your tip about using the coffee cups for take away stuff I am so going to buy a cup and have it in the car always! Great work. Mx
Thanks! My coffee cup has transported leftover sushi, cake, couscous salad, quinoa salad – it’s so handy!
Wonderful post Lindsay, showing how simple these changes can be. And of course, they save us not just landfill waste, but money too. Like you, I’ve not gone down the toilet paper route. I’m not opposed to using them as wee cloths, but I’m not about to use them for poop any time soon! Thanks for sharing your awesome ideas with the zero waste community :)
Thanks Rachelle! It always seems so simple when it’s done though, don’t you think?! ; ) But fairly groundbreaking at the time…what, wait…you can get reusable cups? You don’t have to take an individually wrapped plastic spoon every time you need a piece of cutlery? You can make rags out of old clothes? Took me many years to realise all of these things! So yes, now it seems simple, but it didn’t always…
Haha, yes I didn’t think this would be one that you’d adopt! As always, tis a pleasure : )
You have almost talked me into getting a collapsible coffee cup, I never buy take away coffee and always have my thermos from home but I didn’t think of the other uses. But then i don’t tend to eat out at all these days so maybe I shouldn’t. I have so many sizes of bags, most of them have been given too me too :)
I find mine very useful – it has probably transported food as much as it has transported coffee! I’ve even taken it to the deli to use as a container if I realise I want something on the way past and am not prepared. But I wouldn’t want to encourage you to get something you don’t need! So no pressure! ; )
This is such a great post! I was literally JUST thinking about where to buy my next pack of disposable cotton wool pads, and surely there was a more economical way (even putting environmental impact aside!). I’ll look into buying/making some reusable ones now you’ve mentioned it :) thanks!
I would say look on Etsy – there’s lots of independent crafty types there who sell them and it’s nice to support people making a positive difference rather than the big companies ; )
But it’s so easy to make them from an old, soft towel :) I just cut little squares, put two together and sew on the edge. I was done with 8 of them in less than an hour :) 4 for my mom and 4 for me, but just donated two to a friend since I don’t use make up, so even if I clean my face with one, I just wash it quickly by hand and can reuse already the next day (if I would, it’s a miracle if I remember to scrub my face once a week :D)
This is a great article! I’m happy to say I do most of these things. Yay! I have lots of rewashed and reused plastic bags from produce (I haven’t used new ones for buying produce in years!). People look at me like I’m crazy when I walk into the store with these. Oh, well…BTW, there is reusable parchment paper that is a little thicker and can be washed and used about a hundred times (per the marketing anyway). Do a search on Amazon. Surprised not to see menstrual cups and washable menstrual pads here…Wish I was handier with a sewing machine so I could make cotton rounds, pads, wraps, etc. You are quite inspiring! Keep up the good work and keep sharing your ideas!
Hi Trish, thanks so much for your comment – and yay! I used to do that with my plastic bags but after about 2 years they got so grotty and holey that I took them all to the plastic recycling place, so now I don’t have any. Thanks for the tip about the baking paper – I will look into that!
I was going to add those on, but felt like I’d just (well fairly recently) written about these, and the post was already quite long! If I think of another 15 things (and I’m sure I will!) maybe I’ll write a Part 2! ; )
I wish I was too. It’s my goal for next year – I was just telling my husband that this morning! I’m going to find a course and sign up.
Thanks so much for your kind words! x
Where do you get toilet paper that doesn’t come in plastic? I have been trying to find that for a long time.
Thanks! Great post!
I buy toilet paper from our local Eco store here in Hurstbridge, Victoria. They sell boxes of 56 recycled toilet rolls for about $50. Unfortunately they are individually wrapped in paper but at least I can compost that or feed it to the worms. Way better than the plastic wrapped supermarket offerings. I also prefer to support small local business when I can.
Thanks for your tip Judy! Totally agree about supporting small local businesses : )
In Australia Who Gives A Crap sell recycled and chemical free toilet paper by the (cardboard) box, individually wrapped in paper. At least the packaging is compostable or can be used by worm farms. The paper is pretty too so works well as wrapping paper!
I also have mesh produce bags made from recycled plastic bottles, which are handy for beans and peas etc. I know they are plastic but they are washable and I use them all the time, along with my beeswax wraps.
I buy mine from a brand called Who Gives a Crap based in Australia. You can buy 48 roll boxes directly from their website, and they donate 50% of profits to charities. Plastic free, recycled and no chemicals – about as ethical as you can get!
I live in USA and bought from the same company on line. The toilet paper itself is made from bamboo and is very nice. If you have a way to add a bidet to your existing toilet, your bum is so clean you will use less paper or could consider the cloth wipes. I added my own bidet from a company called Biffy.
They’ve expanded all the way to the US? That’s insane! I’m not sure if we could add a bidet actually as we have a low-flush toilet with the sink built into the cistern. I’ll have to look it up sometime. Thanks for the tip Carolyn!
Speaking about toilets, what would be more eco friendly is the composting toilets. I used them in the first zero waste festival in Hungary (yes, it was a thing :)), and they are great, and used in a smaller household they really do not smell.
If you live in a rural area postage is $36 for one box. Makes it very expensive
Might be worth looking into a co op? If you can get a group of people together they will sell to you at wholesale prices. Good luck!
Who Gives A Crap is an online store selling double length toilet rolls wrapped in paper and delivered to you door in a cardboard box.
This is a great starting point for a zero-waste life! I would like to add egg boxes to the list. We buy eggs at a local farm and always return the egg boxes, which are then reused.
Thanks! Egg boxes are actually a tough one, as it is illegal to reuse them in Western Australia (and possibly all of Australia). I used to take mine back every week to the Farmers’ Market as the egg sellers always collected them, until I discovered they take them back…and recycled them! As in, recycle the cardboard! What a waste!
Since then I’ve found one place (that shall remain nameless) which take back the boxes for reusing, so now I save them all up and take them there. Crazy!
What a waste, but great that you found a way out :) Schools often also like to have empty egg boxes for creative projects.
Egg cartons can be composted.
Hi Debby, they sure can! But when I think about how many egg boxes are manufactured sold every day, and none of them are reused – it’s crazy! I’m sure they are strong enough to be reused many times before being composted. Wouldn’t that be great?
Wow, how come, if buying bulk is allowed? You know we talked about the idiot regulations about food packaging in Hungary, but actually egg boxes are one of the exceptions, they are so happy at the market when I return a few :)
Don’t blame you. I am not keen on cloth wipes instead of toilet paper either, and my husband wouldn’t do it. And what about guests? I don’t think they’d be too impressed. So, despite the fact that we’re not in a hot climate (South East England), I’m afraid the toilet paper will stay. If only I could find some that isn’t wrapped in plastic at least. So far no luck. (BTW in England I can’t even find a cucumber that isn’t wrapped in plastic.)
As for the other stuff: I’ve got most of this, too, except for the bamboo cutlery (jealous) and the stainless steel straw. I have a set of four glass straws, but I’m reluctant to carry one of them around in my bag.
Haha, I can imagine guests would be really confused! I remeber once my nephew needing to blow his nose, and I handed him a toilet roll, and he laughed and looked at me and was like “haha, where are the tissues?” He was extremely puzzled. Imagine if he’d had to deal with cloth wipes?! Still, better for blowing his nose… ; )
Hmmm, my parents live in the south-east UK, I will have to ask them about loo roll and cucumbers. You can definitely grow your own in summer but that’s not a very helpful tip given it’s autumn now… : /
I have the metal one as standard, and take the glass one if I think I’m going somewhere I’ll need a straw. I think they’re pretty sturdy! Depends what else is in your bag I guess!
If you can do a local veg box they won’t be wrapped. I don’t mean organic, costa fortune ones. Lots of local ones in U.K. Our local one is cheaper than Tesco, they show you how, plus you can send their cardboard boxes back for them to reuse. Just google it for your area
That is so true Pat! I’ve been a fan of veg boxes since forever. I used to get a Riverford box in the UK back in 2005 when they were still fairly small.
Local schemes that connect with local farmers are awesome.
I’d do the family cloth – but for the live in partner. I’d have a roll for guests. It’s just like nappies, and I’d make it work. Anyhow.
I don’t have a reusable straw, and I know I’m not likely to carry it around as much as I need it. :s
With cutlery – I pack it with my lunch usually, if I’m away from my usual stash at my office. Naturally I get caught out from time to time, but mostly I have reusables.
That’s the thing…if it was just me, I’d probably give it a go ; )
I don’t use my cutlery that much as we have metal cutlery at work, and I don’t get takeaway much at all. But they’ve proven invaluable…there are times when you really need a knife / fork / spoon!
I have chopsticks floating around in my handbag. I reuse a wooden (previously throw away) pair, they are lighter and smaller than other cutlery
That’s great Sarah! : )
Great read. My kids love second hand clothes from their big cousins and once my kids out grow clothed they love deciding wholl they will offer them too, or which charity. I know its a simple thing most people do, second hand clothes, passing on clothes – but often the joy here isnt celebrated.
Thanks Melanie! I remember as a kid loving second-hand clothes from my cousins too – they were far cooler that what my mum would buy for me! ; ) It’s a good habit to begin early I think!
Hi Lindsay, I love your blog! You are a great inspiration! I have a compromise for the toilet paper dilemma and I hope it is not to much information. Working in an arabic country I switched partly to their method: I rinse number 1 with water, using a small watering can (they have hoses in their bathrooms next to the toilet). After rinsing a first time, I proceed as I would under the shower while pouring water a second time . But I still clean number 2 with paper – as usual, then I rinse too. To dry off, I would take a small towel. It cuts the toilet paper waste considerably. (Sorry for my english, I hope I could make it understandable and not to yucky)
Thanks so much Zina! That’s a really good point actually – in Arab countries toilet paper isn’t very popular. I’ve travelled around Morocco and Egypt (several years ago), but at the time I used paper I took with me. I wonder if I went again if I’d embrace the hose?! It would make a lot more sense…
Baking paper is a tricky one for me too. My gran used to use old butter papers. I use the baking paper for soap making though, not baking, so butter papers aren’t real useful! Great list :)
Thanks Liz! I used to use old butter papers too (I’d store them in the freezer until I needed them) but these days I don’t buy butter. Can you reuse the paper with soap-making?
Cloth wipes are no different in hygiene or cleanliness than cloth nappies.
Good point Tammy! Although somehow babies can get away with things that adults can’t ; ) If I had to deal with cloth nappies maybe I’d switch, but I can’t see my husband being persuaded anyway!
Maybe for wiping wet waste, but not solid! I guess we could go back to the old ways and use newspapers like I hear my mother did.
While I do most of your list, I tried two of them and stopped. The first was family cloth. I was the only one doing it, dropped many into the toilet on accident, and just came to the conclusion that it was better for our family to buy recycled toilet paper. The second was the produce bags. Every time I tried to use them at the store they would have to open them, take everything out to check and weight it, and then put it all back in the bags. Meanwhile, the line behind me was growing and you would have thought I had two heads by the looks I got. Maybe if I could find a store that was more open to the idea.
I’m surprised you’ve had a problem with produce bags. That must have been so frustrating! If you want to try them again, you can buy (or make) ones made of netting or gauze or old net curtains so it’s easier to see the produce inside.Most of mine aren’t see through and I just tell the person at the till what’s inside, and generally they are quite trusting. I guess they can tell if things feel like oats or almonds or coconut once I’ve said what it is. Another option, if there are things you buy regularly, is to stitch labels to the bags so the checkout person knows that there are apples inside or whatever.
Maybe it’s worth trying again? Or finding a new store?! Good luck and let me know if you give it another go!
Use a t piece hose on you toilet water intake, you can then squirt your bum and lady garden to clean it after going. Or a jug and use water from your sink or a bucket next to the loo and just pour, you end up cleaner, no soap needed as you are doing it straight away. you then just need to dry with your family cloth, nothing dirty on there and throw it in the normal wash. We spend all day in pants and they go in the normal wash. Pants are probably dirtier!
Sherren I’m super impressed that you’ve got this system working for you! Sadly there is absolutely no way my husband would even contemplate such an idea!
I never thought about the straws!
Straws – I don’t use them often, but they have to be up there as the most pointless and wasteful piece of plastic in existence, so avoiding them is a definite!
Dear Lindsay, thank you for your awesome tips…. The one with the self-made sandwich bag was missing from my life so far, so thanks for the great advice. I agree with the toilet paper… I think this would also push the household peace over the edge with my husband. He is already looking at my garbage collections of the week as I’m starting to work on the layout of my blog, objective, videos, etc. so I’m allowing us some freedom. We moved to Thailand from Barcelona 3 years ago and its plastic hell over here. I think I needed to move her to push my blog forward. I grew up in East Germany, where we had to reuse, and recycle as there was hardly anything to be purchased anyway. Since then I have lived in Switzerland, the US, different places in Spain and now Thailand. I have come across your blog and knew it was time to get the blog into reality. All this waste and so little awareness over here. When you go to a shop, they give you a plastic bag for a yoghurt, a plastic spoon or a bag for one bottle of water with a straw which also comes individually wrapped. It sends my blood pressure into dangerous levels. For some time now I’m working on a campaign with friends on individual waste we create and want to write about it… I think I need to start publishing and focus on the development of the site over time. THANKS for all your inspirational notes…. Love to know that there are so many like-minded people out there…
Hi Madeleine, thank you for your lovely comment! We went to Thailand a couple of years ago when we were living plastic-free and yes, we were shocked at the amount of plastic! Particularly the national obsession with plastic straws! (I wrote two blog posts about it – one about our attempts to find plastic-free water, and another about all the other bits and pieces). We had fun though, and managed to live fairly waste-free : )
I look forward to reading your blog and hearing about your campaign! Yes, I love how there is a whole community here : )
Of all the zero waste things to do, the easiest was to get rid of the loo roll!
I haven’t used toilet paper in over a year. I don’t use family cloths either. I wash not wipe. As some other people have already pointed out millions of people wash rather than wipe every day. Having a little tiny shower fitted by the toilet is quick and easy. It’s simpler, and cleaner than loo roll. Who would want to smear poo all over themselves with little bits of porous paper when you can use water? It feels much cleaner and you don’t have your fingers 70 microns away from millions of germs. You’re not cleaning with paper, you’re just spreading it more thinly! Consider it as a complete redesign of the process. You can get a douchette from the Internet or French hardware stores.
Loo roll is for guests only.
I have to say, these comments have made me think a lot about the toilet paper issue! I’ve never really thought about the whole water vs paper idea. I’m loving hearing from people like you who make it work – it’s inspired me to think again! Thanks : )
Absolutely loved your blog! It’s very hard to be plastic free where I live, but I started the trend – promoting reusable shopping bags at local social goups, washable diapers, tree-smart pencils…
You didn’t show you toothbrush and I thought you might want a link to a store where I buy mine http://ru.aliexpress.com/item/free-shipping-Promotion-Health-bamboo-handle-brush-Eco-bamboo-charcoal-toothbrush/380818038.html they ship from China, which works for me, since I live in Russia. But I’m sure you can find them closer to where you live too.
Thanks Gayla! : ) Starting is the most important part, so good on you! I’ve been using bamboo toothbrushes for a while, but the bristles are plastic. I’ve seen a few people posting recently about ones with alternative bristles – I will have to look out for them!
another thing on the egg boxes – I was a little girl in Soviet Union, boy THAT was a plastic free country :) Anyway, I remember my mom and every other household had special plastic, but reusable containers for eggs. There was no other way to shop for eggs. The cartons had to stay at the store (they re-used them) and you had to bring your own packaging aka special container that held 20 eggs.
Wow, yes I imagine it would have been! I’m intrigued by this idea…do you know if you can still get them second hand? In Australia it’s illegal to reuse egg boxes (or some such nonsense) so no commercial places take them back, but I have friends with chickens and also I have found one seller that will take back the boxes. As a result we end up storing boxes for months before being able to take them back for re-using. I’ve been thinking a box would be really useful but I can’t find anything suitable on eBay / Gumtree – only ones for cooked eggs, and very small.
Have you got any tips for a baking paper/parchment brand available in Australia that isn’t plastic or silicone-coated? Thanks!
I use a brand called If You Care – their products are available in Australia. This is their website: http://www.ifyoucare.com/
Lindsay, I’ve just bought a reusable Teflon baking sheet, do you have any experience or knowledge of these. I read that silicone mats can alter cooking parameters because of their thickness and heat absorption, and I couldn’t find any anyway. My understanding is that over a products lifecycle, reusable is ALWAYS better than single use but I’d like to see some solid info comparing Teflon sheets with disposable baking paper. Thanks Tammy
Well Tammy, this officially must be the longest time taken to respond to a comment ever! I’m so sorry I missed it! Do you know, even two years on I’ve still not come across Teflon baking sheets. But I would assume by now you’d be an expert, so I’d love to hear from you if you’d like to update me!
I guess one thing I’d add to your comment, is that the thing with silicone etc is that it isn’t recyclable at the end of it’s life, and it won’t last forever. Often the “carbon” argument is used to promote plastic over paper, because plastic has a lower carbon footprint to manufacture and transport than paper. But paper is very easily recycle and completely biodegradable.
I have a silicone muffin tray and individual cupcake cases. But rather than get sheets and baking tins, I use paper for those, reuse as often as I can and then compost.
It would be great to hear from you with an update!
Consider washing yourself with water poured from a bottle down onto your hand which then washes your backside. It’s like a bidet wherever you go–much cleaner than toilet paper. Cheers,
I’m trying to find out what is more eco-friendly: cloth wipes that you have to keep rewashing (bearing in mind the energy, water and detergent) or buying toilet paper (energy, paper, throwing it down the toilet)?
That is a great question Jules, and I don’t know the answer. What I do know is that these things are never straightforward! If the cloth wipes are 100% natural fibres and second-hand, that is better than new, bought-for-purpose wipes. I would imagine they don’t add much weight/space to a laundry load, but over time it would add up. And if you’re using them for both and washing in a separate wash on a hot setting, well that doesn’t sound great. You can buy toilet paper made from recycled paper, and even waste sugar cane. I suppose you could compost the paper rather than flushing down the loo?
Lots of things to think about.
What about menstrual products? I have a set of cloth pads but only use them at home. I find it inconvenient when at work all day to have to store them until I get home. Haven’t used a mendtrual cup.
Hi Dee, great question! I use a Diva menstrual cup, I’ve used one since 2003 and I love it! There are plenty of brands and different women seem to get on better with different ones. There’s even a sports model, I’ve discovered recently! I use a pad overnight in the first few days in addition the the cup as I have a heavy flow and it can fill up and leak. This isn’t that common, though.
Regarding the pads, what do people who use nappies for babies do? Is there some kind of bag you can get to store them discreetly? I have no idea but just a thought!
Hope that helps :)
I use cloth pads for overnight. During the day i use Modibodi pants. They look and feel like regular knickers except they have built in pad. They come in light, medium and heavy depending on your flow. They just go in your normal wash. The light ones are also suitable to wear everyday instead of panty liners.
We use a bidet sprayer in conjunction with cloth wipes. We actually didn’t originally attach it for this purpose. It was originally a cloth diaper sprayer. I think that the original cost of installation was about $30, if I remember right. My whole family loves it and finds that it cleans more thoroughly than toilet paper.
Because we’ve washed first with water, the cloth wipes are very easy to wash. They really don’t consume much in the way of extra resources, because I usually don’t wash them alone. I normally throw them in with the towels.
People have mentioned guests. Just put a roll of unbleached recycled toilet paper out for the guests and put away your basket of cloth while they’re over. There’s no need to even mention it to them.
Thanks for sharing this Ruth. I didn’t know bidet attachments were so cheap! I don’t think my husband is going to change his mind any time soon, but I do think this makes sense, the more I think about it. And you are so right – there is no need to tell guests!
Thanks so much for sharing your ideas and how it works for you :)
Hi there. When baking, instead of using baking paper, I use olive oil / butter on the tin and then plain flour. Stops the sticking 99% of the time. I love all your tips. You’ve done the hard work for everyone else and made many people more aware of what we can do.
Hi, regarding the TP we use bamboo and sugar cane; treeless!
baking paper contains sulphuric acid and dioxins. I looked up parchment baking paper from an organic shop – doesn’t have these toxins and breaks down on the compost heap (though I’ve never baked with it) I use greasproof paper which is also called parchment but it does have to be greased. It used to be made by beating the paper but nowadays may have a toxic coating. I think I’ll go to the organic shop….
Hi Victoria, the brand I use is If You Care which is FSC certified,unbleached, chlorine free and certified home compostable. I wouldn’t use anything else, this ticks all the boxes for me :)
So about toilet cloths. I have now adopted a loose combination of re-use and single use when it comes to the loo. Basically for easy clean ups it’s cloths and when you know it’s not going to be easy it’s paper followed by cloth (often slightly dampened for that extra cleeean!). Laundry and hygiene is not an issue; they are no grosser than a barely worn pair of undies so they just go in with the laundry every few days. They are also much nicer to use than paper in the same way hankies are nicer for your nose! I made mine out of remnant flanelette fabric that I bought for a few $$ because I didn’t have any suitable fabric/old clothes.
Thanks for sharing Jackie, it’s always so interesting to hear how others have adapted and deal with things. A hybrid approach, I haven’t come across this one before but makes a lot of sense :)
It’s a good step for making environment green and eco-freindly.
Empty toilet rolls are great for starting seedlings. I use them for that or chuck them in the compost. Hay bales for garden mulch usually come with plastic twine so I plait that into rope or cord. Then I use that to make scratching posts for my cat. I turn old, soft sheets into handkerchiefs.
I am a beginner and I am looking for options available to freeze meats, veggies, etc ( I use reusable ones though )
Also where to buy meats that are not wrapped in plastic. Thanks!!
I’ve had some people tell me that a butcher is the best place for meat that isn’t wrapped in plastic.
Wow! I’m pretty much on target! Haven’t changed my toothbrush yet but will when it wears out. I don’t have reusable cutlery (don’t need it), I give old towels to my vet, and I’m with you on toilet paper! I’ll now take up the challenge of hankies instead of tissues.
These are awesome! My mother in law bought me these silacone baking tin wrappers. I havent used them yet but they are supposed to bend and mould to square cake pans and loaf pans also. Hoping to use them once I run out of my parchment paper and see how it goes.
We also invested in a bidet attachment so we use far less toilet paper. Not sure if it’s actually more eco friendly or not, but I definitely feel cleaner!
Cloth napkins! Saves a fortune on paper towel and looks nicer on the table. I have the bamboo cutlery in my purse with a reusable straw. Wrap a cloth napkin around them and your always prepared. I also walk to the grocery store with a wagon. Shop with my wagon in the store. Load up, cash out, no bags of any kind required. Reusable silicone containers are my new favorite thing. Freeze, boil,e pack sauces to sandwiches and they take up way less space in the drawer!