I’ve taken a little break from writing here because I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed by change. Now it’s time to write and reflect on this. There has been a very stark difference between Minimalism and Zero Waste for me. Minimalism was a much smoother, easier journey. I had familiar channels that already existed through which I could get rid of stuff- eBay, charity shops, Freecycle and so on. Getting rid of stuff was beneficial to my mental health – I felt freer and less burdened.
Zero Waste on the other hand, has been a much bigger step- not being able to shop in familiar stores, having to seek out stores that sell things in suitable formats, thereby driving much longer distances or having to visit different towns. I also live with 2 chronic health conditions and I’ll admit that this has not been entirely helpful. I feel that Zero Waste has raised my anxiety levels because I feel guilty about buying the wrong stuff, now I know that I could be making better choices. Now this also says something about my perfectionist streak! But honestly, it currently feels like a really big weight to be carrying. Knowledge is power so they say, but to me- it has been more of a frustration in this case.
I am trying to learn and accept that I can’t change everything. It’s great to read about all these bloggers in other countries achieving Zero Waste but the reality here in Britain is that we don’t have the facilities to be like this. Try as I might, I can’t buy food sans packaging because we don’t have bulk stores anymore. I remember them from my childhood, but they simply don’t exist now. Maybe they do in the big cities and in some years, it might filter down to us. I have to eat a gluten-free diet and that means a lot of the food I eat has to be packaged and sealed in plastic to prevent cross contamination. I don’t see a way around that currently. My health conditions mean I sometimes need to have pre-packaged foods in the cupboard because I am not well enough to prepare something from scratch.
I do want to be a pioneer, but I have to accept that I have limited time and energy to achieve that because my health tends to dictate. It’s also important to have a balance in your life and that means, some of my energy needs to be directed to other places or to more relaxing ventures!
However, we have made some small changes- here are some things that worked for us;
- We are sticking with solid shampoo and conditioner, they are brilliant! We are just trialling ‘Copperhead’ solid shampoo and ‘Big’ solid conditioner by Lush.
- ‘Tiny Hands’ solid hand cream by Lush didn’t work at all for me and now Lush are discontinuing it, so it can’t have been good for anyone! But, I found a Cath Kidston Rose Hand Balm in a tin in TK Maxx and that is much better and still plastic free!
- We have switched to solid bar soap and won’t be going back- I found some massive vegan bar soaps, again in TK Maxx that have been fab and real value for money! We’re also currently trying out the various fragrances in the Dr Bronner’s range.
- We’re sticking with the gingham cloths to line the microwave and cake tins. We’ve tried using cloth napkins to wrap sandwiches, but they are so hard to clean afterwards that we’ve stopped. 3 turns in the washing machine and still the crumbs stuck!
- I made washable cloth pads and I’m sticking with them for 75% of my cycle. I’ve yet to try making thicker ones, but I have plans when I have time.
- We have a compost bin in the kitchen and one in the garden too!
- We now have washable scouring cloths in the kitchen rather than disposable plastic scourers. We do still use disposable metal ones for the tough stuff, but they disintegrate largely and I don’t think they would be problematic.
- We have many more re-usable containers which do cut down on the need to use plastic freezer bags or clingfilm in lunch boxes.
- Always carrying re-usable cloth bags to the supermarket. We manage this 99% of the time!
And some things that didn’t;
- We purchased a second-hand wooden 3 piece suite with the intention of recovering for years to come, but it was too uncomfortable and incompatible with my health conditions because of the poor posture it created. So, we’re buying new.
- Homemade mouthwash really didn’t cut it, nor did homemade cleaning solution for my mouthguard- so I’ve gone back to using denture tablets which are unfortunately packaged in plastic.
- Toothy tabs were OK, but my husband had big concerns about the lack of fluoride and they did nothing to ease my sensitive teeth. So, we’ve gone back to toothpaste.
- We didn’t find a successful alternative to using antibacterial spray on the kitchen counters. When you have pets and not much time in the mornings, you really do need a quick and safe solution.
Some thing that we plan to change as we use things up etc;
- We’ve nearly come to the end of our plastic bag store and as we’re not intentionally taking them anymore, we plan to buy paper bin liners. (As we’re not newspaper readers and we couldn’t find anyone who wanted to donate there old ones to us, we have no choice but to buy recycled ones currently).
- We may still change from tissues to handkerchiefs. However it’s hard enough managing to regularly wash the re-usable items mentioned above and all these kinds of things need hot washes. Probably easier if you’re a family and do more loads. I refuse to do half-loads.
- We may still try to switch to milk in glass bottles from the milkman. However- it’s very expensive and we know they’ve already agreed to close the bottling plant down for the whole of the UK, so it feels futile.
- I am about to switch from facial cleanser in a plastic tube to a solid bar of face wash from Lush. I hope it’s as good as their solid shampoos and conditioners, so that it becomes a permanent change!
So, it seems that they positive changes are double the negatives, so that’s nice to see! Sometimes it has felt like a real uphill battle- it really does help to write things down. I’d love to hear how you’re getting on.