Looking to do a little more than using a reusable bag, bottle, and coffee cup? Here are 5 slightly more advanced steps to reduce your waste. Remember to use what you have first and that you don’t need to buy anything extra that you don’t need.
1. Bamboo Toothbrush
If you’re into zero waste, I’m sure you’ve seen these literally everywhere. Plastic toothbrushes are not recyclable, and every one you’ve ever existed still exists: Even that Star Wars or My Little Pony one you begged to have when you were six.
Bamboo is a very sustainable material because it is a grass, not a tree: it grows very quickly compared to trees, so it is a good renewable resource. It can also be composted. I use a Humble Brush because it is affordable and available at Target, Walgreens, TJ Maxx, and Kroger. I try to avoid shopping on Amazon when I can because it is not an ethical company: for online orders, my first choice is always EarthHero.com because they are carbon neutral, or directly from the retailer or brick and mortar shops.
Also, unlike WooBamboo and other bamboo toothbrush companies, they offer packaging in paper instead of plastic for single brushes. Inside, it comes with a paper sleeve to keep the brush clean. However I have seen bundle packages with it packaged in plastic.
2. Reusable Straws
I’d like to preface this by saying no physically healthy person needs a straw. However I love smoothies and it’s pretty difficult to drink without them. Though straws are probably not the biggest ways we create waste, buying them and using them still brings the demand for more. The more demand, the more oil companies are being paid to drill for plastic products. I keep a few reusable metal and plastic straws on hand at home for smoothies, and I have a collapsible metal straw I keep on a keychain so I don’t forget one wherever I go. Here are a few options based on price. Keep in mind that they may pack with bubble wrap: in that case, don’t panic! Bring it to the thin plastic recycling at your grocery store or give it to UPS so they can reuse it.
3. Use bars of soap
There is absolutely nothing unhygienic about using a bar of soap. It is washed after every use- it is literally soap! Most liquid soap comes in a bottle with a pump, and plastic pumps are not recyclable: they usually have small plastic pieces and metal springs inside. Also, soap in bottles comes with a lot of water- why pay for something that comes out of your faucet? Dr. Bronner’s castile bar soap can be used to wash dishes, scrub floors, wash your hands, face, body, and dog, and can be found at most grocery stores. . If you want to go even further with soap, use a shampoo bar (conditioner bar is optional) Give your hair a bit to adjust to natural shampoos, though. Here are the different bar soaps I use and their purpose. If you can’t give up a shampoo bottle, Plaine Products has refillable aluminum bottles that you send back to them and they reuse.
Dr. Bronner’s All One Bar Soap
Uses: wash dishes and hands. You can also use it to wash your face and body, or use as shaving cream
Ethique St. Clemens Shampoo Bar
CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser
Uses: facial cleanser
Meow Meow Tweet Tea Tree Charcoal Facial Soap
Uses: acne wash
4. Reusable towels
Paper towels are really wasteful, and completely unnecessary. Instead, use real towels: what a concept, right? Use dish towels, bar towels, or unpaper towels. Some have asked me if the carbon footprint it takes to wash towels would outweigh paper towels. My answer? Think about what happens to paper towels before they arrive at your store. It takes lots of carbon to power the machines to cut down trees, cut them, dye them, add synthetic polymers, package them in plastic, ship them to a distributor, ship them to a grocery store, and for you to drive your car over to the store, spend your hard-earned money, and drive back.
Instead, put dirty dish towels in a bin under the sink and throw them in the washer when it’s time for you to do laundry. You have to do it anyway for your clothes and bath towels, and they don’t take up a lot of room- use the most of that water! Also, you will be saving money by not buying the same things over and over again.
My mom uses small bar towels at home to clean, but there are also Unpaper towels that naturally stick together so you can put them up on a roll! You can also choose from super cool designs or have a basic color. They are more expensive, though
5. Use cloth napkins
Same drill as paper towels, but this time for those meal messes. Cloth napkins don’t just have to be for a special occassion! keep some rolled up cloth napkins in a basket on your counter, and reuse them. Use the ones you already have, but in case you’re in the market for some I have listed some options below
Take the next step in your sustainable journey!