In the past couple of weeks I’ve gone completely earth-mother. Fully tree-hugger. If I were any more of a hippie I’d be high and in a drum circle somewhere.
I exaggerate, of course, but I’d imagine my sudden interest in the zero-waste movement has got my employers looking at me like I’ve sprouted dreadlocks and toe rings.
I hung these up in the bathroom and when Mr. Parent came in to check the (broken) towel rack, I swear he gave me a Look for the rest of the day. It’s just Tolkien! Everybody knows Tolkien! What’s the matter with Tolkien?! Tolkien!
I’m not really that hardcore. I’m tentatively exploring the zero waste movement by giving up the things that most dedicated zero-waste people hardly even think about anymore, and I’m complaining the whole way. Who knew there were so many uses for paper towels? Why do all the really tasty foods come wrapped in plastic?
So reusable shopping bags, of course, and reusable produce bags, and refillable liquid soap containers to buy liquid soap in bulk, and a slightly crushed soul.
I’ve been using up my old plastic and disposable things before starting on the new reusable items, because just throwing the old stuff away is sort of everything the zero waste movement has ever been against. Everything that can be recycled will. This stuff will stretch.
I’ve collected a lot of neat reusable items recently, some of which aren’t pictured. These are things like:
- A metal safety razor instead of plastic disposable ones. This is, hands down, the most terrifying of purchases. Every time I pick that thing up to shave with, the back of my mind is saying “NO! What are you doing?! All that’s keeping thin metal from slicing your skin is the angle at which you’re holding the handle!” It’s been fun.
- A few unpackaged soaps and whatnot from Lush, which is the first step in my soap journey, the next step being making my own and the step after that being forgoing soap altogether to live in the woods and bathe in dirt. The charcoal tooth tablets are also from there, and there’s nothing like painting your teeth black to really clean them up.
- Reusable menstrual pads. Yes, you have to soak them and wash them out like they’re reusable cloth diapers. Still, given how much plastic I’d be going through otherwise…
- A metal water bottle! Golly, did you know that you can save money and plastic just by not using money to buy plastic water bottles?
- Bulk sugars for my (now) bulk tea. I… really miss individually packaged teabags, guys. They were so neat and easy, especially the Bigelow stuff. Turns out, you can recycle the box and the teabags themselves, but not the individual teabag wrappers. It’s been rough.
- Cloth napkins and cloth “unpaper” rags for cleaning.
- Wool dryer balls! Pros: Your clothes do dry faster with the woolen balls separating the layers in the cycle. Cons: They really don’t do well soaking up the static. Anybody who tells you they’re as good as dryer sheets doesn’t remember what it’s like to have dryer sheets.
I’ve also been doing things like buying fresh bread from the local bakery, instead of bread that’s wrapped in plastic and then, carefully, wrapped in another layer of plastic and tied off with a plastic end. The key thing about small local bakeries is that you can usually coerce them into putting the fresh bread right into your reusable bag, and they’ll come to remember you as the crazy regular with the toe-ring dreadlocks, but hopefully in a fond way.
This vague interest in the zero-waste movement has also helped to curb my impulse spending. But… not entirely. Exactly. Really.
It was just really important that I get this teacup holster from the steampunk convention, all right? Look, it’s all reusable! That makes it okay to spend an obscene amount of money on!
Mind you, there will always be some things I can’t trade out for reusable and non-plastic. Pill containers, for instance. Computer things. Deodorant that’s not in some weird powder form.
Also the makeup brands I know and love. You can’t make me give them up. I mean, unless someone has some better suggestions that are under $10. It’s cheap because the brands don’t care who or what they have to steamroll to get it here!