Here we are at the end of week 2 of Plastic-Free July!
I know that I’m never posting on the blog at the actual end of the week, I’m sorry!
Right now I’m camping in the Snowdonia National Park in Wales, this of course limits my technology time and my time online. But I decided to use the last moments of my computer battery to write my Week 2 post!
Tip #8 Refuse plastic straws!
In a lot of situations and for a lot of people, refusing the straw and simply doing without is enough, but what about all the times in which a straw is inevitable?
Well, don’t worry because the plastic-free movement has a solution for every problem!
In fact there are tons of different kinds of reusable straws, bamboo ones, stainless steel ones, glass ones, large ones (for bubble tea), straight ones and so on.
Personally I didn’t get one at the beginning as plastic straws aren’t that common in Italy (apart for a couple of drinks), but before going to Brazil Giulio got me four lovely stainless steel straws in a completely plastic-free packaging! So when we were in Rio de Janeiro we managed to get fresh coconut water (from coconuts) every single day without using even one straw!!
I find that reusable straws can be pretty useful also when a straw is not really necessary as it allows you to explain that you don’t need it even when you don’t speak the language (like in our case in Brazil) and also in places where you do speak the language it helps clarifying that you don’t need a plastic straw, showing your own to the waiter/waitress makes it easier for them to remember about that weirdo that goes around with his own straws.
If you already have one of those thick durable and reusable plastic straws, you can join the plastic-free movement too as you are already saving the landfill from as many disposable straws as you would with a stainless steel one.
So is a reusable straw necessary? Not really, it’s up to you, if you can avoid straws altogether it is even better, but if for any reason you need them, there are tons of different options to choose from!
Tip #9 Choose sustainable and plastic-free toilet paper!
This was one of my Plastic-free July resolutions.. buying Who Gives A Crap toilet paper!
I have been using recycled toilet paper since starting my zero waste journey but couldn’t find it plastic-free. When we moved to Cambridge we bought a lot of Eco Leaf toilet paper from amazon as it was packaged in compostable bioplastic but unfortunately it came in a huge plastic bag :(
Once we finished that we used the recycled one that we could find at supermarkets but I wasn’t very happy with that solution as it came in plastic too..so once we finished it I finally managed to convince Giulio to buy the Who Gives A Crap one!
This is an Australian brand which is also available in the UK, US and Canada. They make recycled and bamboo toilet paper which comes individually packaged in colourful paper packaging! They ship it like that in a cardboard box so that there is no plastic involved (other than the shipping tape).
We bought the 24 rolls box which is a little more expensive, as we are moving at the end of the summer and didn’t want to have more things to move! Even though it is a little expensive and it has quite a lot of air miles, it’s a great plastic-free brand that also donates half of its profits to organisations devoted to improving hygiene and sanitation in areas where those are very poor.
There are other brands that sell plastic-free toilet paper like Seventh Generation, and for all the countries in which you can’t find brands that sell eco-friendly toilet paper without plastic you should be able to get it from hotel suppliers!
What toilet paper do you use? Or do you use the family cloth?
Tip #10 Drink tap water!
In most countries tap water has to go through stricter controls than bottled water, plus it’s cheaper and plastic-free! Why are you still drinking packaged water??
If you live in an area where the water tastes good then you can simply refill your water bottle straight from the tap, while if you live in a place where the water is safe but doesn’t taste very good, you can do like us and use charcoal filters!
Charcoal filters can be used up to 6 months and then can be reused as odor neutralisers (or if you prefer you can directly compost them). We bought ours from Amazon and they came wrapped in plastic, which was a bit disappointing, bit it still creates a lot less plastic than bottled water!
To always have filtered water we have a jug where we keep the water to filter, and then a large bottle where we put the filtered water, since it takes about 2 hours to filter the water with this system we never find ourselves out of water.
Another way to get plastic-free water is what my family has always done back in Rome, they buy a nice local naturally sparkling water from a company that delivers it at your door in glass bottles and then takes them back to refill them! There is still some waste involved as the bottle caps are not reusable, and the whole process uses quite a lot of energy, but if tap water really isn’t an option for you this could be a good alternative!
How do you get plastic-free water?
Tip #11 No need for that ugly plastic film!
At the beginning of my zero waste journey storing food and leftovers seemed like one of the most challenging fields where to go plastic-free, but that is because we tend to overcomplicate things. Most food doesn’t need any kind of additional packaging other than their natural one and can therefore be stored completely loose.
For leftovers or food that needs to be packaged in a sealed container, I use our lunch boxes, beeswax and jars! I use the lunch boxes and the beeswax mainly for things that are too large to fit in a jar, such as half a cucumber, half a watermelon, tons of washed and cut greens or left-over pizza.
For most left-overs I simply use jars, both airtight ones and normal ones (most of them are reused jam jars). For example I use airtight jars for halves of avocado, onion and lemon as they tend to go bad more easily, while I use normal jars for cooked things like chickpeas, beans etc.
Sometimes I also use the old good system of simply putting a plate over a bowl, but since we have a very small fridge I do that less often!
How do you store your food?
Tip #12 Make your coffee and tea zero waste
No matter what you drink in the morning there is a zero waste option to make it!
We use a stainless steel french press to make filter coffee, tea and infuses. It’s very easy to use and I like the fact that I need only one item to make almost all of my drinks!
Instead, when we want some “short” Italian coffee we simply use what most Italians have always used, a Moka! To use it you simply have to put cold water at the bottom (up to the valve), some ground coffee in the little funnel-like container, just remember not to press the coffee, and then close it tightly. Then you put it directly on the stove on low heat and in a couple of minutes your coffee is ready! Just remember that Mokas should never be washed with soap, but just with water, as they need to season a bit like cast iron pans!
The other important factor to make zero waste coffee and tea is to buy it package-free, we buy both of them in our own containers from a little stand at our farmers market! It’s very important to remember that almost all tea bags are made using a little bit of plastic to avoid it from melting when put in boiling water and that therefore they are not compostable! This is one of those things that I personally did not know at all before going zero waste, and because of this I used to always put used tea bags in the compost bin.
How do you make your coffee and tea waste-free?
Tip #13 Make it natural, make your own!
Making your own beauty products is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get plastic-free and 100% natural products!
The good thing is that most DIY products take only a couple of minutes to make, with the exception of deodorant that can take about half an hour, and most of them need the same ingredients. So to make your own toiletries you don’t need to be a DIY master or have a ton of pure products!
In the picture you can see:
DIY toothpaste (recipe on the blog)
DIY mouthwash (also on the blog)
Pure organic coconut oil that I use as make up remover (bought in a large glass jar)
Deodorant (the post regarding deodorants will come soon!)
Dry shampoo (made with just some arrowroot powder, cocoa powder and essential oils)
Pure organic Argan oil, which I use as face and hair moisturiser. I use 1 drop for my face and 2 drops for my hair ends, just remember to apply on damp skin/hair!
Not showed in the picture:
Pure shea butter, which I use to make deodorant and as body, lips and hand moisturiser. I bought it in a tin container and I have now just bought some more in a glass jar!
I bought all of these ingredients either in glass containers or package-free from Negozio Leggero in Rome! The only exception are essential oils, but one bottle lasts me more than one year so it doesn’t create too much waste, plus now Negozio Leggero also sells package-free essential oils so next time I’ll buy them there!
All of the essential oils used in the toothpaste and mouth was are food-grade, as even if you don’t ingest them I believe that it’s better to be safe than sorry :)
Which products do you make yourself?
Tip #14 Make it yourself!
Since going zero waste I have started to experiment a lot more with cooking, I’ve always loved to cook and I’ve always made my meals mostly from scratch but trying to reduce my waste has allowed me to get out of my comfort zone and try to make new things!
In the picture you can see homemade granola, which I made for the first time! I was really amazed by how simple it was to make and how good it came out!
Making your own food from scratch is an easy and inexpensive way to diminish you waste.
Since going zero waste I started making my own pizza, bread, cookies, granola, fresh pasta (we still buy the dry one), tortillas, oat milk and much more! I’ve learned a lot of new recipes and saved a lot of money. One of the first things I started to make was bread which is incredibly easy, not very time consuming and so cheap!!
What foods do you make yourself that you used to buy?