*Trying* to live low waste
Updated: Aug 19, 2019
This post details a day in my life - a Tuesday, to be precise - in which I went about my normal life as someone who cares about my environmental footprint, but also a twenty-year-old living with my parents, and a recognition that I don’t choose the most environmentally-friendly option in every situation. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about my attempts at living a semi-sustainable/flexitainable (whatever you want to call it) lifestyle.
I live in Italy, in a city where biking is commonplace. So I usually take my bike, or Mobike everywhere (it’s an excellent bike-sharing app - in over 200 cities worldwide!). Of course, though, not everyone has the time, energy, or money, to bike. So besides that, I’d suggest taking public transport as much as possible or car sharing etc. I biked to the nail salon, and while you can buy eco-friendly nail polish, it’s rare to find spas or nail studios that use these. But then again, the more we (as consumers) demand them, the more we’ll begin to see them.
I had been to a local organic market with my mum on the weekend, and we brought with us our produce bags and food containers, to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables for the week. While it was a lovely experience, and I felt lucky to have even gone, I rarely make time for this kind of thing during the academic year when my mind (and schedule) are more consumed by schoolwork.
Post-lunch, I stayed home to get some work done. Something I’m trying to be more conscious of is the chemicals that exist around me - in my clothes and in the products I use on myself and to clean my spaces. We know that clothes made of non-organic cotton release toxins into our bodies, for example, and this process is only sped up through other (natural) processes like sweating. Scary, I know! There’s a good synthesis list of chemicals in clothes and what the issues with them are (many are carcinogens) on Goop if you want more information. Later in the afternoon, I wanted some tea. Luckily, many of my friends are eco-conscious, and one of them is even a zero-waste blogger who made me my own special jars of loose-leaf tea, completely natural and plastic-free (see the image above)! Until this, I endured many years unaware that most tea bags have plastic in them… If you want to make this change for yourself, I recommend buying loose-leaf tea or trying out one of these brands.
Dinner. While you can’t control how a restaurant works, you can choose where to put your money. So if you can, opt for vegan/vegetarian meals, or restaurants, or support local producers of non-vegan products and encourage practices like organic, free-range, and fair-trade farming. Also, depending on where you are and if you don’t mind - ask for tap water! It comes straight from the tap into your glass, instead of a plastic or glass bottle.
When it comes to the bathroom, I’m a whole lot of ‘trying’ and ‘not always succeeding’ - from natural, eco-friendly and plastic-free products to when I suddenly run out of a natural and zero-waste toothpaste I bought online (and takes 2 weeks to deliver), so I end up buying a regular tube of the stuff. My toiletries, as you can see, are a mix of wonderful products like a charcoal face exfoliator bought plastic-free from a local vendor at a crafts market, and my favourite natural toothpaste from UK-based company Georganics (there's a bunch of different brands out there), to a box of plastic floss, and tubs of creams likely with microplastics and hazardous chemicals in them. The point is, no one’s perfect, and while natural and plastic-free products remain off the store shelves and instead exist only online or in elite zero-waste stores for people with the energy and money to shift their consumer practices in this way, we will continue to make mistakes. But at the same time, now that I have an understanding of how to find (or create) certain products natural and plastic-free, I am better equipped to keep these changes going; as my habits change, they become the new normal.