Something I didn’t think I’d do.

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this long jar my parents used to store spaghetti in has come in handy! I love all the colours in there ūüôā

Hello! As you may have been able to tell from my recent posts, the bathroom has been an area I’ve been concentrating on. I’ve reduced my toiletries, found zero waste alternatives to lots of products, and I’d say the process of ‘transition’ is nearly over. I haven’t had to chuck anything away from the bathroom in… well I don’t remember the last time. Except there is one thing we chuck away several times a day without batting an eyelid- or maybe a better term would be flush away.

I haven’t bought baby wipes or flushable wipes since I started striving for zero waste, and to be honest, it’s not too hard to live without. It was always a luxury. I find that if ever I do feel the need for one, a few drops of water from the tap onto a folded piece of loo roll does the job.

In terms of actual loo roll, I either buy recycled toilet paper from the supermarket wrapped in plastic, or if I have the time to get to another shop, Ecoleaf recycled paper in recyclable packaging. That was until I read a few posts on it and realised that using reusable toilet paper¬†didn’t¬†actually sound that bad!

Let me get a few things straight. Reusable toilet roll is not just keeping dirty toilet paper or anything like that. It is actually fabric, which you use once and then stick in the wash. Also, I’ve decided to only deal with no.1’s¬†using reusable wipes because cleaning no.2’s off is beyond me at the moment, so it’s regular loo roll for that. If you think about it, it’s the same principle as using a handkerchief really, and to be honest I’ve taken to it with as much ease!

I bought my rainbow coloured bamboo wipes from Cheeky Wipes and they arrived a couple of weeks ago. My first impression was that they are SUPER SOFT! Forget toilet paper, this is living in luxury! The best way to describe them would be a thin, soft flannel. I have read in other reviews of reusable toilet paper that on the occasions when people have to use ‘normal’ loo roll again (when out or on holiday etc.), that it feels rough- I can definitely see how this could become the case for me!

It takes a bit of time to get used to reaching for the wipes rather than the paper, (I still occasionally do that, it is a lifetime’s habit after all!) and then there is coordinating when to wash them in order to always have a supply. I picked coloured wipes rather than white because I do colour washes way more often than whites and can just stick them in the machine at the same time.

Considering that no.1’s are the majority of toilet trips, I reckon I’m going to be saving quite a bit of money, energy and resources which is pretty cool! Reusable loo roll has been on my radar so to speak for quite a long time, but I only recently allowed myself to consider it an option due to misconceptions I had. I would recommend researching it- you don’t have to be a hippy, and it doesn’t make you dirtier or require a whole load more time or energy. Get on it people! This is something I never thought I’d do, but I have to say, I’m sold.

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Teeth.

 

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Convention dental care is a disposable nightmare with plastic everywhere you look. What makes it even worse is that toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss need to be regularly replaced meaning tonnes of landfill. I used to think there was no way around this- we have to brush our teeth after all- but I have developed a pretty near zero waste routine that works for me and I thought I would share.

Firstly, there are many different approaches, enough to suit everyone’s needs and preferences. Alongside my solutions¬†I will list sources directing you to other alternatives¬†for dental hygeine that I don’t personally use, but that you might find helpful nonetheless. I know it’s a personal thing.

Toothbrush:

This bit is an easy swap-out. Instead of buying plastic toothbrushes, get your hands on a bamboo toothbrush. I started off with this one from the Environmental Toothbrush Co. which was really soft and was thick and sturdy and ergonomic to hold. It was nice for a first dabble into wooden toothbrushes but the bristles were non-biodegradable, so I switched to¬†Save Some Green. This toothbrush really is 100% biodegradable, and although it isn’t as luxurious, it uses less wood and does the job. I buy them online from their website in a pack of 12 which lasts around 3 years! I haven’t had to stick any of my past brushes in the compost yet because I save them to use for cleaning.

Toothpaste:

I’m nothing if not lazy haha so I picked the easiest toothpaste recipe I could find. 2¬†parts coconut oil to 1 part bicarbonate of soda (see here for recipe and demonstration video). I put a pea-sized amount on my toothbrush and brush as normal then rinse with water and spit. It does taste a little salty (due to the bicarb) and it doesn’t froth like traditional toothpaste, but I’m not a fan of mint anyway- if you are add peppermint oil- and within a week I was used to the taste and consistency.

When I saw my dentist in May, he asked if I used a fluoride tothpaste and I told him what I use. He said that my teeth were perfectly healthy and there was no decay in my mouth. He said that bicarbonate of soda was fine to use to brush my teeth but he did recommend fluoride toothpaste as it is good at protecting teeth from staining. Basically, the gist I got was that it’s down to what you eat and when which determines your liklihood to develop tooth decay or staining. As a healthy eater who only really drinks water, I’m dong half the job.

I also know that the act of brushing is the most important element of the process, regardless of what substance you use- if any at all! Sometimes if I run out of toothpaste or leave it somewhere I brush with a dry toothbrush, and whilst I wouldn’t do it everyday, my teeth are still clean and smooth. I also use natural soap such as Dr. Bronner’s or Living Naturally¬†occaisonally (wet the brush then rub it over the bar) which does the job too.

Floss:

I have to admit, I’ve never been a flosser. My teeth are on the gappy side so it’s not a massive problem, but in recent years I have been making an effort. Finding a plastic-free or vegan floss (some use silk) has been a bit of a challenge. I settled for now on a gum stimulator which I bought in a pharmacy (unfortunately came in plastic + cardboard). I run it in between my gums and teeth a few times a week at the moment, and when I feel it necessary.

This link will take you to an article by a vegan zero-waster analysing the options available to you if you do want a floss alternative.

5 simple steps to reducing waste

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Whether you’re aim is to produce no landfill waste or just to be a bit more considerate to the environment, you’re more likely to be successful when you start small. Here are 5 simple steps to being more earth-friendly that take a little getting used to and initial effort, but will end up reducing your waste enormously!

  1. No more plastic water bottles > switch to a reusable bottle

Plastic is particularly bad for the environment as, although some of it is technically recyclable (less than 10% of it is actually recycled), it is only able to be downcycled into lesser quality plastics, temporarily delaying its arrival in landfill, where it leaches harmful chemicals. Plastic NEVER degrades, only breaking up into smaller and smaller pieces which are mistaken for food by animals or absorbed by sea creatures in tiny pieces. Since switching to my stainless steel bottle by Klean Kanteen, I’ve noticed my water tastes cleaner and I don’t need ¬†to shell out on any more bottles- what’s not to like!

2. No more plastic shopping bags > use reusable bags

This one took some practice to remember, but I can safely say I haven’t used a plastic shopping bag in 6 months, and I won’t again. Now every time I go out, whether I know I’m going to buy something or not, I have at least 1 trusty canvas bag with me to carry it in. For the same reason as the bottles, plastic bags are terrible for the planet. Many of them claim to be biodegradable as well, which is misleading (everything is technically biodegradable– that doesn’t mean it won’t take 50 years). Due to their light weight, they often fly off in the wind to end up caught up in trees, swallowed by wildlife or floating in seas and rivers. Not cool!

3. Go paperless > digitise what you need

Whether it be bank statements, subscriptions to magazines or newsletters, or just plain junk, an awful lot comes through the door only to be dumped directly in the recycling. Recycling is great, but it still requires energy and resources which could have been avoided if you cut the waste off at the source. Most if not all banks offer online statements, and keeping magazines and newsletters online means less resources used to print and send them to you. Putting up a ‘no junk mail’ sign over your letterbox is all that’s needed to take care of the rest. Scrutinise your mail and see if you can cut it down.

4. Say no to tissues + napkins + hand towels > carry a handkerchief

I got seriously excited when I realised being eco-friendly meant I got to carry around a hanky. It always seemed really cool to me, like this was a part of history I had no idea why had gone extinct. Hankies are great- obviously you can wash and reuse them forever instead of cutting down forests for the sake of blowing your nose, but they also don’t make my nose all rough and sore like tissues do after a few days of use (did I mention they are also super adorable and picking which one to take out each week makes me happy?) My mum gave me a set of tartan ones for Christmas, and I’m not looking back!

5. Out: plastic toothbrushes > in: bamboo toothbrushes

Toothbrushes, due to their need to be replaced several times a year, contribute to a large proportion of landfill sites, where they will sit for generations in exactly the same condition as the day you threw them out. There has to be another way… And there is! Bamboo toothbrushes can be composted after use, so the wood can biodegrade naturally in the earth causing absolutely no pollution. If the concept of using a wooden toothbrush seems strange, I would encourage you to try it- after a matter of days I’d already felt like I’d been using them for years. Bamboo has antibacterial properties and is universally considered healthy, whereas the health effects of plastic as a synthetic material are as yet inconclusive.

Happy switching!