Steps towards Zero Waste in cosmetics and the day to day

I haven’t written much on the ‘simple life’ stuff  lately, partly because I’ve moved and it’s harder to do in my new home! However what I have been focused on is moving towards zero waste living. I’d previously been doing this, but I’m happy to see it’s now got a name and a bit of a movement – google it and you should find other ideas. However here are some of the steps I’ve taken:

  • while more fresh fruit and veg, deliberately avoiding the kind that is wrapped in plastic, unless it’s in the ‘reduced’ section and about to go out of date.
  • carrying around a travel mug and/or reusable coffee cup, particularly to my new church where they use paper cups, but also when out and about. (Though I’m thinking about giving up coffee tbh)
  • changed shampoo, conditioner and body wash for ‘soap’-like blocks from Lush Cosmetics. There is minimal paper wrapping that is optional, and no plastic.
  • For moisturiser, I’m using up some old almond oil, but I’m going to shift between a mixture of Lush massage bars and their hand/body lotions that come in black plastic tubs that they recycle themselves.
  • carrying reusable bags everywhere.
  • at work when they are putting on events, committing that I’ll do the washing up rather than using disposable plates and cups. Though, the last time I did this, I was running the event and someone washed up before I could get round to it…

One of the problems with modern environmentalism is that it looks for ways to ameliorate the effects of our current practices, such as offering recycling. But much stuff put into recycling bins don’t get recycled. The real solution is to reduce consumption and stop producing so much waste.

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Saving jam jars – what to do with them?

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I’ve got a huge box of jam jars. Some of them are soaking in hot water at the moment, in preparation for making some lovely bramble and apple jam (some great free food in my area at the moment). I’ve been saving these jars for ages, and wondered if I’d ever get round to using them. I’d been hoping to make apple jam and chutney every year, when my apple trees produce their harvest, and did it for the first time last year. I gave them away as presents at Christmas, and ate my way through them too.

But there have been some other uses for the jam jars.

  • Sprouting seeds in them, a good way of making fresh food when you haven’t been to the shops for a while.
  • Chucking out old oil, rather than putting it down the sink.
  • Using them to hold water when painting.

So all in all, I’m glad I’ve kept these old jars hanging around, rather than putting them out for the recycling van.

Picking brambles: freely available fruit

I notice that fruit on the bramble that’s happily set root in my garden is about to ripen. Free fruit, with absolutely no effort to me. Great. No way is it a weed.

I’ll have lots more too, soon. Near where I live, there is a great big quarry, which has been overrun by brambles. Remarkably last year, two weeks after they started to ripen, there was still an abundance of blackberries to pick. I had seen a few Polish guys having a go, and many of the good berries were out of my reach. But there were still plenty to be had, and they are totally free.

I picked 1kg of brambles in total. I froze about a quarter of these, made another quarter into a smoothie, and have made apple and blackberry jam with the rest. I’ll put up the recipes at some point. This year I’d like to make blackberry cordial, too. The latter two are a great way to reuse jam jars and bottles, part of my quest to have no waste.

You’ve got to watch out for the creepy crawlies, and give the fruit a good wash. I avoided all brambles that were lower than the height of a dog, even if they were particularly plump… for obvious reasons.

It did make my hands go purple, but the dog loved prowling around while I was busy!

Recycle or re-use? Ways to use rubbish

English: Recycle logo

English: Recycle logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like a good green consumer, I faithfully recycle all the rubbish I can. My local council will take most items, like paper, plastic, glass, and even garden and kitchen waste.
But… I’ve decided that rather than put my rubbish out for an energy-consuming lorry to take away, to who knows where… I’m going to try and reuse it myself.
So:

  • I’m keeping paper and cardboard ready to make paper bricks. I’ll be trying them out in my stove in winter time and telling you all about it.
  • I’m composting my garden waste in the back garden, which didn’t achieve much until I found out what an activator was, and a cheap and plentiful source of it!
  • And, I’m keeping a large pile of jam jars, which I’ve written about here.

You definitely need storage space to take this route – luckily I’ve got a pantry which stores my paper and jam jars. And I’ve got an understanding housemate.

What ways of reusing rubbish have you find? Please comment below.