The simple definition: to send nothing to the landfill and make waste a thing of the past. The more complex one: To completely redesign the industrial system with a set of principles focused on waste prevention, moving towards a circular economy. With only 9% of the world’s plastic currently being recycled, zero waste encourages the redefinition of natural resource life-cycles so that old products, can be reused in the production of new ones. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators, or the ocean.
Most people don’t realize that our consumer choices are so heavily influenced by advertising and product marketing. We are persuaded to believe we need so much to maintain our image and lifestyle, but the reality is we have too much. Our understanding of our identity is so deeply connected with the things we buy, we are blind to the simple truth; the things you own can end up owning you.
Starting in the bathroom, minimize your products to the essentials. Keep only those which prioritise your health and are designed to not adversely affect the delicate equilibrium of our natural world. Seek products in glass containers and cut out plastic completely. There are so many zero-waste alternatives to every product in your routine. These use natural ingredients that nourish and hydrate your skin, brighten your teeth and don’t use harmful, unnecessary parabens. You will save money, reduce your waste to the minimum and simplify your life. The less you have, the less you have to worry about.
According to The Independent,it’s estimated that 3.6 billion plastic toothbrushes are used worldwide every year, with the average person using 300 in their lifetime. Billions of disposable plastic toothbrushes are tossed out every year across the world with roughly 80 percent of these end up in the ocean, taking thousands of years to break down.
Bamboo toothbrushes work just as well as the one you’re used to. They simply last longer and are made with compostable handles and biodegradable bristles free from BPA (a chemical used to make certain plastics, possibly leading to an increased risk of health problems such as increased blood pressure, heart disease and impaired brain development in children).
Dr Eddie Coyle, dentist and clinical director at Bupa Dental Care, supports the rise in bamboo toothbrushes but advises taking extra care to keep yours clean. He says, “Once you finish brushing, rinse the bristles for 30 seconds to wash away remaining toothpaste or food debris, and avoid leaving your toothbrush in a warm, damp case or holder as this encourages the growth of microorganisms,”.
Traveling is so much easier with shampoo and conditioner in solid soap bars. You can save hundreds of disposable plastic bottles from littering the earth. One shampoo bar lasts over 50 washes, replacing around 2 medium sized shampoo bottles. Let your hair soak up the natural oils leaving it soft, healthy, and clean. They are safe for all hair types and can also be used on the body, reducing the number of products you own even further.
Stainless steel razors will give you the cleanest shave and are great for both men and women. Replace your disposable razors with one that should last you a lifetime, replacing only the blade. Find one locally or online.
The average woman uses 11,000 disposable, toxic period products over her life. That’s a astounding amount of waste. Tampons are made of cotton, which is also one of the most treated crops across the world. That means once the tampon is inserted, all of that glyphosate, herbicides, and pesticides sprayed onto the non-organic cotton during cultivation is getting absorbed into your body. Glyphosate has also been ruled as a “probable carcinogen” by the World Health Organisation. This toxin can contribute to countless developmental, reproductive, neurological, and/or immunological problems. And if that wasn’t bad enough, manufacturers are not required to issue a full disclosure of what is in their menstrual products.
The Menstrual cup is a true game changer. They last a long time if taken care of, and are made of silicone, which is completely safe for your body. Buying one or two menstrual cups is tremendously better for the environment and will save you time and money. If you’re not a fan of “the cup”, companies that make period panties. These are washable, reusable underwear that absorb blood and are a more sustainable solution than single-use products. Because of their leak resistance and absorbing power, period underwear can replace pads, tampons, liners, and cups, or be worn with tampons and cups for extra protection.
The process of sweating releases bacteria and toxins from your body which is why choosing a deodorant made with all natural ingredients is the rational choice for involving in a process that involves permeable skin. The alternative, Antiperspirant, contains parabens and synthetic fragrances that can disrupt your endocrine system and irritate your skin. Natural deodorant works just as well in neutralizing odor through agents like baking soda and tea-tree oil which are naturally antimicrobial.
Most store-bought toothpaste contains numerous unnecessary toxic ingredients. Some of the chemicals that have been found in popular toothpaste brands are SLS, pesticides, artificial coloring, sweeteners, and more. Some companies even contain Microbeads for extra “scrubbing power”. These are tiny grains of plastic which will be flushed down the drain and straight into the ocean, harming our marine ecosystem. Toothpowder or homemade toothpaste is much better for you, only containing a few, vital ingredients.
These powders work as a scrubbing agent, whitening your teeth and removing plaque. A great zero waste toothpaste recipe by iquitplastics is just three ingredients:
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup baking soda
15-20 drops peppermint oil
Stir coconut oil, soda, and oil together into smooth consistency. Place in glass jar and store in fridge.
+ Words: Ella Kraimer
Ella Kraimer is a student of Visual Communication in Berlin. She is passionate about promoting sustainable culture from the ground up - starting by changing the way we consume and create.