The Plastic-Free Week is about to start (25 – 29 May)! During this week will try to make people more aware of the amounts of plastic that they use in their daily lives and how they can reduce this. Do you want to face the challenge of living without plastic for a week? Sign up to participate here.
Julia Adinda (website, instagram: @byjuliaadinda) wrote a blog on her favorite (budget friendly) zero waste items. The perfect way to get you started!
Before telling you all about my budget friendly, zero waste favourites, I would like to start by letting you know my lifestyle is far from zero waste. From time to time I pick up a few tricks here and there that, once implemented in my daily routines, help reducing the amount of plastic I use. The great thing about taking time to find zero waste swaps that actually work for us, is that we are more likely to stick with them. Going all the way and changing your entire life to living plastic-free is great, but not everyone has the time to dedicate each day avoiding plastic. So until then, celebrate the small wins!
Becoming aware of the amount of plastic we use is the first step in making intentional zero waste swaps. Before going out to buy zero waste essentials, let’s take a look at what we already have and where we can make the biggest impact. Besides changing our daily habits, it also pays off investing in reusable, long-lasting items, to replace the cheaper, limited-use ones we use on a daily basis. I would not recommend throwing all the plastic items out straight away, but instead use them until they need replacing and at that point consider introducing a reusable version. This way, we do not end up wasting things we still have laying around and give ourselves the time to safe up for sustainable alternatives.
One last thing, before we dive into my zero waste favourites. There is a great rule of thumb that reminds us of how to go about our shopping and one that works in all areas, not only when it comes to plastic, but also for example when buying clothes. It goes like this: Refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, recycle, rot, in this particular order. When we keep this in mind every time we think we need to go out and buy something, it will automatically help reducing our impact.
Now, here are my five favourite, budget friendly, zero waste items:
Tote bags are a great alternative for plastic ones when going for any kind of shopping. I own a couple of them, in different sizes and like to make sure to always have one in my backpack, just in case I decide to pass by a store on my way home. The smaller, fruit- and vegetable bags, are a recent addition to my collection but loved equally as much! I prefer to go grocery shopping at the market, but when my schedule gets busier, I often end up popping in the supermarket for a quick few items. Luckily both places accept the bags without problems!
Did you know plastic will never biodegrade? At least, not the way organic waste does. Instead, it breaks down in tiny particles that in their turn become part of the environment. It takes 400 years for an average plastic bottle to degrade (unless it ends up in landfill, then it can take up to 1000 years, caused by the lack of oxygen). In 2016, 480 billion plastic bottles were sold worldwide. Right now, we are up to 1 million plastic bottles being sold, every minute. Bringing our own reusable bottle is an easy and affordable way to reduce the amount of plastic drastically and in the long run, will even save us money.
Swap your bottles of soap and shampoo for a bar. I have been using a bar of soap for the biggest part of my life and can confirm it gets the job done. The shampoo bars, however, have not been a great experience for me so far. Although I have heard others speak nothing but praise about those too. When it comes to finding alternatives for shampoo and conditioner, I can only recommend trying, do not feel discouraged when it is not a perfect match the first time around. We all have different hair types and there is no shame in going back to your trusted bottle for a while.
The toothbrush is an item most of us would not want to live without, and humans have enjoyed clean teeth for a long time; archaeologists have even found ‘tooth sticks’ in Egyptian tombs. For centuries, the basic toothbrush was made of natural materials, but during the 20th century, the plastic edition was introduced. However, this is one of those items I never really gave much thought about, but it is such an easy step to take, to a toothbrush made of bamboo. I have to be honest though; the bamboo toothbrushes are a bit more expensive than the plastic ones, but it is for the good cause, right? And if you think about it, most of us will use about 300 toothbrushes in our lifetime, so there is a big impact to make.
I love this little trick and it is totally free. Of course, we could go out and buy a beautiful set of bamboo cutlery to keep in our backpacks whenever we are on the go, but why not look in our kitchen drawers, take one of each and throw them in our bag. For extra convenience I like to keep mine in a little case so I won’t have to look for them every time I stop for some food on the go.
These are my five favourite, budget friendly, zero waste items. I hope this article will be of use when you decide to give ‘lowering the amount of plastic in your life’ a try. If you decide to go out and replace some of your plastic items, consider supporting your local shops and purchase zero waste items in Groningen at: Kokotoko, Diezijner or Waar.
Before I go: a bonus tip, for those who have periods: menstrual cup and washable pads. My life changed after making this swap. It seems daunting when you first consider taking this step and check the prices, but after making the investment it will repay itself over time, and my periods have never been more comfortable. Of course, it is a personal preference, but I was not happy with the idea of tampons and hated the feeling of pads. When shifting to a more low-waste lifestyle, I, on top of that, realised the huge environmental benefit in making this swap. It definitely takes some time getting used to and the learning curve can be quite big, as we only have periods once a month (thank god!), but once you figure out how to go about it, you never want to go back!
During the Plastic-Free Week several events will take place! On Monday 25 May (16:00-19:00) two lectures will be given on the environmental crisis, from the point of view of religion and science. More information and a link to the lecture can be found on our Facebook page.
On Wednesday 27 May (19:00) a workshop with tips for plastic-free living will take place. Find the link to the workshop here.
And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram (@greenoffice_rug) and Facebook, since we will share a lot of tips, tricks and experiences on how to live plastic-free. There will even be Instagram takeovers where Green Office ambassadors share the highs and lows they experience during the plastic-free challenge.
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