Starting the low waste journey can be tough! I remember when I first started and I felt so overwhelmed by it all.
Once I started making swaps, I realised just how wasteful I was. The feeling of plastic and ethical anxiety is real and when you open your eyes to it, all you see is endless reels of plastic and poorly manufactured goods!
But don't despair! You will do it and you will succeed! Now more than ever there are so many great options out there to reduce the waste in your life and live more sustainably. From compostable sponges to safety razors, produce bags to reusable cups, there are so many products that reduce waste and the impact we are having on the planet.
Living sustainably is not just about filling your home with plastic free, ethical goods. It is also about the mind set to strive for a low waste life.
My advice is to start small and build on your swaps. So, whether you are just starting your sustainable journey or have been on the road for some time and are looking for new ideas that you can do straight away, here are my top 9 Simple Eco Swaps You Can Start Today!
1. Shop Local
If you are fortunate enough to live near a shopping district or local high street, use it. And if you can walk or ride a bike, even better. This is a great way to reduce your CO2 emissions from your car and support local business. You are sure to find a green grocers with fresh local product, a butcher for the meat eaters that sources from local farms, and hopefully a refill shop for all your dried food and sustainable items.
2. Look For Cruelty Free Products
It is quite shocking the amount of products in our home that are unnecessarily tested on animals. Do your research and check on your favourite products to ensure they are cruelty free. Anything that has a "vegan" label will always be cruelty free. Check out the Code Check App, which helps you search for your favourite brands and find out if they are cruelty free as well as sustainable, ethically made and free from harmful nasties.
3. Use What You Have
I don't know about you but my Insta feed is bombarded with beautiful pantries that are stocked with size and colour coded glass jars for their refillable items. I’m over here using mis matched pasta sauce jars and plastic tubs for my refills. And thats the point! You don't have to strive for the Insta kitchen. If you have a jar and need some rice, go fill up with the jar. If you need to freeze food and you have some take away tupperware, throw it in! If you still have plastic sandwich bags and cling film, use it to wrap those sandwiches. This journey is not about chucking out the bad plastic, but changing the way you think about waste. Give a single use item a second life.
4. Switch Out One Meat Meal for Plant Based
Let me just start by saying I am not telling you that you have to go vegan. You diet is your own and your choice to make. What I am suggesting is to consider swapping out one meat based meals for plant based. If everyone in the UK swapped just one red meat-based meal to a plant-based meal per week, it could cut the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50 million tonnes, the equivalent of taking 16 million cars off the road. One of my favourite plant based meals is spicy bean burgers with sweet potato fries. You can make it vegan by opting for vegan cheese, vegan brioche buns, and vegan mayo.
5. Buy Second Hand
Maybe you need a new coat, dining table, dishwasher or mobile phone. Have you ever considered getting these items second hand? With the likes of charity shops, eBay, and Facebook marketplace, there are a plethora of preloved items out there looking for a new home and a chance of a second life. You can save so much money when buying second too! These unwanted items could make their way to landfill if no one claims them so grab a bargain and reduce waste by opting for a second hand or refurbished item.
6. Reusable Bags
We all have them. From cute little tote bags to reusable bags for life, everyone has the bag cupboard full of bags. 54 bags to be precise! It is estimated that each household in the the UK has 54 bags for life! Where are we all hiding them? Bags for life are becoming a new problem for plastic pollution. Shoppers are not discouraged by the cost of a bag and are happy to buy two or three every time they go shopping. So do what you need to do to remember your bag before you leave the house. Pop it by the front door, always have a stock in your boot or shove them in your shoes.
7. Look For Items Getting Low
If you are just starting your journey it can be very overwhelming as you walk around you home and see nothing but plastic in every corner. You may want to just throw it all out and start again, but don't be discouraged. My best advice is to start slow. Choose a room or a category of waste you want to reduce. So you might choose the bathroom. Start researching alternatives for shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothbrushes, toothpaste, loo roll and cleaning spray. As they start to run out, swap them out for plastic free, sustainable alternatives. Check the website for some inspiration and great products that will help you achieve your goal.
8. Recycle Right
Know what you can throw in your recycling bin. Each council is different and not everything can be recycled in your area. Check the packaging. If it says “check local recycling” then make sure it can go in the bin. Go to your council website and download their recycling guide. I have mine on a pin board above the recycling bin so my family and I can easily check what can go in and what can’t. Also be sure to rinse your recycling. If the recycling is consider “soiled” due to food residue, it will not be recycled, but throw into landfill instead!
For the Wirral guide, click here.
For the Liverpool guide, click here.
9. Pick Up Litter
It’s not your litter, but it is your planet. When you are out and about going for walk, grab a bag and a litter picker and get picking. There are many groups up and down the country that do community litter picking so you don't have to do it alone and you may make a friend or two. Don't want to go too far afield? Start with your home. Your front and back garden will always have litter blown in. Be sure to pick it up and dispose of it correctly.