Ways To Be More Sustainable: Part One
I’ve made a concerted effort this year to live my life in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way. It sounds a little off-putting (and more than a little wanky) when I put it like that, but realistically there are some super simple things you can do to reduce the impact you have on your tiny corner of the world.
In part one of this two part series I give you five reusable replacements for common disposable items.
When you stop to think about it, this makes a lot of sense. You can get soap in bar form, so why not shampoo? I work in a super hot environment with lots of smells, oil and sweat, so I wash my hair pretty much daily. I switched to a shampoo bar around April this year and I am honestly never going back to the 'old liquid in a bottle' kind. One shampoo bar has lasted me for many months and my hair feels really good: it's shiny and healthy. I've been using the honey I washed my hair honey flavoured bar from Lush, but there are a dizzying number of varieties in-store and also from other brands elsewhere that differ to suit all kinds of hair. The bars cost something like $10-15 but mine has lasted much longer than a bottle would so I think they’re worth the dosh. I haven't felt the need to use a conditioner but there are conditioner bars around if your hair requires it.
Top tip- Extend the life of your bar by storing it in a lidded container to prevent it melting away under the warm spray.
I am a VIGOROUS tooth-brusher. I prefer a firm bristle and I go pretty damn hard *hair-flick*. As a result, for the last few years I have been burning through a ridiculous number of plastic brushes as the bristles quickly bend and flatten under my righteous scrub-a-dub action. But bamboo toothbrushes? FUCKING AMAZING. They last for WAAAAAAY longer than conventional plastic brushes- like twice as long, no bullshit- and you get to feel smug about your environmental credentials. The bristles stay upright and strong and the bamboo handle even has a pleasant mouth feel (yeah I felt like a wanker writing those words).
CAUTION: when you notice the bamboo head starting to split, it's time to replace the brush! I found myself with a mouthful of loose bristles one morning which was not fun and, in hindsight totally avoidable.
You can buy these in bulk online, or probably also in a real life store. Does anyone even go to those anymore?
Reusable Sanitary Products
YUP I'm about to talk about lady-times, shark week, red flood, Aunt Irma, periods. Not sorry. Gentlemen, skip ahead OR take the time to educate yourself about the realities of life for half the human population. Up to you.
I've recently tried out period-proof underwear and I LOVE IT. It's super comfortable and there are plenty of different styles, colours, and absorbency types. They range from high waisted super-absorbent to bikini line spot-catching with plenty in between. I use a super-absorbent pair overnight and I am yet to wake up to blood stained sheets (which is truly miraculous for me!). I use Modibodi, which are an Australian brand, but there several other companies to choose from.
I've also bought a few re-usable pads to keep in my bag for when I'm caught unawares. I just keep a ziplock bag in my purse if I need to change them during the day.
My third method of attack in this multi-pronged management system is a moon-cup. This one took me a little while to get used to but I think it's really worth having a go. Doubling the cup with some period proof knickers is my go-to for heavy flow days. It’s even comfy enough to keep it in at the gym and when I ride my bike.
These items do involve some initial monetary investment but over time you'll save money when you no longer need to buy endless disposable products. It's worth keeping your eye out for online sales. Many companies offer free shipping when you buy in bulk, so buddy up with some girlfriends and get yourselves a bargain!
There are now some top notch ways to recycle your cling wrap (for more details STAY TUNED for part two) BUT wouldn't it be nice if there was less plastic to begin with? A friend of mine gifted me some delightful beeswax wraps and I've been using them in my kitchen at home. They're a reusable alternative to clingwrap, and 100% natural which is very nice. Use them to cover bowls, pots or lidless containers in the fridge. Wrap up your cut veg in them. Wash them with detergent in warm (not too hot!) water and use them again and again. Most will last for a year or more, depending on how often you use them. If you’re feeling very keen you can even make your own; I’m told it’s pretty easy and I might just have a go (I’ll definitely put it on Instagram if I do because I’m that kind of person now).
Coffee Cups are just the beginning!
Reusable coffee cups are a big deal at the moment. Australia's love for coffee has led to a huge number of disposable takeaway cups being sent to landfill. Even the supposedly recyclable and biodegradable products are often trashed due to inadequate recycling facilities.
Bringing a keep-cup has become a totally normal part of many Australian's daily coffee run.
In addition to the cup, I have taken to packing a foldable spork into my bag to replace takeaway cutlery. I'm also trying to allow myself a little more time in my day to 'eat-in'. Too often I get a takeaway simply because of convenience, poor time management, or because I don't feel like sitting alone in a restaurant. My resolution is to be more prepared, leave a little more time, and always bring a book!
And of course there are reusable bags, bottles, straws… Reuse everything!
I hope you’ve found some of these ideas useful! I really think it’s worth giving it a try; you may surprise yourself with the levels of smugness you can achieve by simply brushing your teeth.
Have yourself a super sustainable week!