I’m excited to share tips on how to live a more “zero waste”, “low-impact”, and sustainable lifestyle as I figure things out for myself. Sometimes, buying more eco-friendly items can help towards that goal, and I’ve certainly invested in quite a few (see Part 2 of this series, and stay tuned for next week’s post). But, the most sustainable thing to do is to use what you’ve already got, or go without. And trust me, this is much easier said than done in our consumer society! 🙂 In this post, I look at some products marketed as “zero waste essentials”, which I won’t be buying!
Marketing Buzz Words:
It’s important to emphasise that, while people are becoming more aware of the environmental crises affecting our planet and wanting to make changes, companies also want to profit. “Zero waste”, “eco friendly”, and “plastic free” have become marketing catch phrases. These phrases are used by both mainstream corporations and the hundreds of entrepreneurial start ups selling everything from bamboo toothbrushes and unpaper towel, to glass coffee mugs and sporks.
Blue Ollis (a low waste Youtuber) has spoken about this topic (see her video). She talks about how “zero waste kits” and certain products have become trendy; that we’re told we can’t live a zero waste lifestyle without them, or indeed take good Instagram photos! Sustainably Vegan (of the low impact movement) has also spoken about low waste becoming trendy.
So what happens when you do want to buy an eco-friendly product? Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of buying into a brand’s claims that they’re “helping the planet”. Sometimes it’s a completely valid claim and I applaud these companies (big and small) for focusing on eco-friendly alternatives. Other times, it’s just nonsense. It’s equally likely that companies are greenwashing their products by using words like “natural”, “eco”, “pure” and sometimes even “biodegradable” when they are in fact far from those things. On greenwashing, see the Youtuber Shelbizleee’s videos. She also does fun videos called “anti-hauls” on items she won’t be buying.
For more on greenwashing see my resource page: All about Greenwashing
Example: I saw a Twitter ad from Exxon Mobil claiming they are doing their bit because considering biofuels is “cool” 🙄, but they seem to ignore the fact that their production of fossil fuels was/is a major contributor to the current environmental crises. It’s a popular topic, and rightly so, but take claims of things being “eco-friendly” and “helping the planet” with a pinch of salt. Do your research on the companies you want to support, and share with your friends!
Zero Waste Essentials I won’t be buying:
Here are some products that I think are great eco-friendly alternatives, but I won’t be buying them (at least not anytime soon)! I’ll explain why, but if you’re ready to make a switch, or are looking for Christmas gifts, these are great options.
Metal tiffins and glass Tupperware containers:
I already have loads of plastic Tupperware that are still functional and work really well for me. Tupperware is built to last, and therefore I’d rather keep that plastic out of landfill for as long as possible.
A metal, glass, or bamboo straw:
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to carry around one of those funky collapsible metal straws but we were given a glass milk bottle set that came with strong plastic straws and they are just fine. I’ve got straw cleaners and I just toss a straw and brush in my bag if we’re going out, or away. No need to buy a new metal straw!
Keep Cup or Trouva (bamboo coffee cup):
I don’t drink coffee out often. When I think we will likely get takeaway coffee, I try to remember to bring my travel mug, though this isn’t always practical. Sometimes I’ll choose a cold drink and use my own straw because at least a plastic cup can go in recycling, unlike single use coffee cups with are made of paper lined with plastic film.
Metal water bottle:
I’ve had my Kleen canteen from LL Bean for maybe 15 years and my other plastic water bottle is fine. See my post here on how I clean them.
Bamboo travel cutlery:
No need. I don’t eat out a lot. If I did need cutlery, I’d just bring my metal ones from home, eat at the restaurant, or use my hands!
I’m on the fence about getting a safety razor. I’m just not sure if I’ll like it, or if I’ll cut myself. In the meantime, I’ve had my Venus razor for at least a decade and I’ve still got some spare cartridges to use up.
Fancy produce bags:
Mesh bags and the macrame ones are popular in zero waste Instagram posts. Maybe I’ll make my own macrame produce bag one day, but I’ve already sewn my own bags from spare fabric.
Wooden dish brush:
They look so pretty, but I’ve got two silicone ones that are great! We do have a little wooden vegetable brush though!
A Pela phone case:
If I ever do need to replace my phone cover, I’ll see if I can get a pela case that fits my phone. But, my plastic case is in good condition so I won’t be buying a new one soon!
Kooshoo elastic free hair bands:
A great idea, but I’ve still got loads of hair bands so I don’t need new ones.
I prefer an electric toothbrush. If I ever did need to buy a spare toothbrush, I’ll get a bamboo one. This one is a bit of a cheat because Lucy wanted one in her stocking so I have in fact purchased a bamboo toothbrush.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about the items above and if you have them/ they’re on your wish list. What are other sustainable items you’d like to buy, but you’re doing without?