10 Zero-Waste Home Ideas

When broken down into simple steps, zero-waste alternatives at home are easier that we may initially imagine. Take the inspiring example of Bea Johnson and her family who produce not even a jar of waste per year. A stance against needless waste is not only essential for sustainability purposes, it also enables us to save money while inviting us to lead a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle. You may be wondering how a zero-waste home is even possible, and you are not alone (FYI I am far from setting up a zero-waste home). The good news is that there are many small steps we can take at home to reduce our accumulation of needless waste. Here are some simple, non-time-consuming ideas that can contribute and inspire you to have a more zero-waste home lifestyle.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

granite pot with water with violet orchid and yellow flowers
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Compostable Brushes and Sponges

How many washing up sponges and scourers have we thrown away over the years? I dread to think! Not only are they used to wash up, but they are also commonly used for cleaning the bathroom. In most cases, the typical supermarket sponges are neither recyclable nor biodegradable. This means that their carbon footprint is huge and that they will unsustainably accumulate in landfills for years. Thankfully, innovative options exist. Firstly, there are compostable, wooden brushes that are durable, effective and compostable for when they are no longer useable. Another compostable option is the 100% plant-based loofa sponge. This is perfect for washing up, and it’s soft enough to clean surfaces and windows. Always check that it’s compostable before you invest in the product.

Homemade Cleaning Product

According to zero-waste activist Lauren Singer, we can actually make an incredibly efficient, versatile cleaning product with just three simple ingredients – yes, you heard right! Not only are many chemical cleaning products toxic to humans, they also have a detrimental effect on the environment due to their volatile organic compounds. Organic and natural products are on the market, but why not make your own? Literally all you need is water, distilled white vinegar and optional scented essential oil. Check out Lauren’s homemade non-toxic cleaner here that’s perfect for surfaces, windows, sinks, and tiles. The vinegar kills the bacteria and can even remove any tough stains, though it’s not recommended on marble or granite.

Bar Dish Soap

Shampoo and soap bars are well-known eco-friendly options, but let’s take a moment to appreciate the bar dish soap. Say goodbye to fairy liquid, as its solid counterpart is an eco-friendly, zero-waste alternative. Shop for a natural, chemical-free bar with zero packaging. Here’s a 100% natural, compostable version courtesy of Package Free Shop.

soaps with shaving brush near vase on wooden table
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Composting

Some food waste is inevitable. Think banana skins, egg shells, fruit peels, and tea bags. Did you know that most of our food waste ends up rotting in landfill sites, consequently releasing a damaging greenhouse gas called methane? If you live in an area that has a local food waste collection service, take advantage of that. Invest in a small food bin and some fully compostable bin liners to facilitate the process. You could consider composting at home, here you can find out the ins and outs of how to compost.

Aloe Vera Conditioning

Aloe Vera is a plant that’s worth investing in. It has anti-inflammatory, cooling properties which makes it an ideal moisturiser, after-sun and can even boost the time a wound like a cut or burn takes to heal. Additionally, its enzymes help repair dead skin cells on the scalp keeping dandruff at bay, while it is also able to condition and revitalise hair much like it can the skin.  In fact, there are numerous benefits to natural, chemical-free beauty and personal hygiene products including our own health and, of course, the planet’s eco-system. Check out this short YouTube video for a step-by-step guide on how to make a homemade leave-in conditioner with just aloe vera and oil.

DIY Toothpaste

Toothpaste tends to come in a plastic tube that, for the most part, just gets chucked away. They also contain chemicals that we naturally digest as we brush our teeth. Thankfully, we can make an organic, vegan toothpaste with just coconut oil, baking soda and peppermint oil. These natural ingredients are way better for the environment and, though it won’t taste amazing, it’s easy and effective. You can also opt for just baking soda mixed with water, its natural antibacterial and whitening properties make it an excellent natural substitute. However, it doesn’t contain fluoride which is known for its ability to prevent cavities so it’s not a feasible alternative for everyone.

Candles

Who doesn’t love candles for creating a peaceful ambience? The therapeutic flicker produces a sense of calm like no other. However, we could be more eco-friendly when investing in candles. For instance, buying natural candles made of plant-based wax or beeswax are a healthier option for the environment. Ensure that they’re free of petroleum, parabens and harmful synthetic fragrances which pollute the air. It’s also a great idea to buy package-free candles so free-standing candles or, failing that, candles that come in a recyclable or compostable container.

photo of candles stones and book
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Organic, Compostable Masks

OK, so you may not wear a mask at home, but given the current climate every home has at least one. The amount of waste the mask industry is producing is unthinkable. Masks have come to be an essential item for our safety. Luckily, there are innovative, efficient options on the market. Take this organic, double-layered cotton mask, in fact, the mask and its filters are 100% compostable at its end of life.

Plantable Pencil

This is, quite simply, an ingenious invention! Pencils are needed at school, university, in the office, and when do they not come in handy at home?! Once you’ve finished writing with these pencils, plant them and watch them grow into a plant or herb depending on the product. 

Waste Not Want Not

What does this even mean? It means that when we use resources carefully, we are never in need. Don’t throw away good food, instead use it up, freeze it or compost it. Don’t throw out perfectly good products in order to replace them, use them up first. These ideas are not to further encourage the purchasing of products, but rather to help make responsible decisions when you next run out of any of the above or are in search of a replacement. Invest in natural products and resources with no or little packaging. Running out of shampoo? Read up on the best eco-friendly options. Falling short on paper? Snap up some local recycled paper. Long story short, be resourceful and mindful of what goes into the trash. Every single thing that goes in the trash could be seen as inspiration for the next zero-waste idea.

The aim of this article is not to achieve a zero-waste home, but rather to help you work towards an eco-friendlier way of life one step at a time. Learn from others, find inspiration around you and be mindful of household waste. Every little conscious change counts for something. Let me know your favourite zero waste home suggestions in the comments below.

Indoor Plants that Clean the Air and Remove Toxins

Plants are more than just an aesthetical adornment for the home, they also provide us with a healthy breath of fresh air. In fact, NASA conducted a Clean Air Study and concluded that certain indoor plants naturally remove toxic agents, helping neutralise the air. Indoor air pollutants range from things like cigarette smoke to the harmful chemicals found in cleaning products and air fresheners. Such plants work to absorb air pollutants like carbon dioxide and in turn release oxygen. So, if you’re looking to brighten up your home or clean the air and remove toxins, these plants are for you. Here’s a list of some incredible air purifying plants with some basic care guidance.

Monstera Deliciosa

Monstera Deliciosa
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These plants are trending due to their large-leaved beauty and, fortunately, Monstera Deliciosas are really easy to look after. The Monstera Deliciosa requires bright to medium indirect light and only needs watering about once a week, perhaps twice in a hot climate. Wait until the soil is fairly dry until watering it again. Native to Mexico and Central America, it loves humidity. If you have pets, it’s best kept out of reach.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera plant
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In addition to its healing properties, Aloe Vera also works its magic by purifying the air around us. As a succulent plant, it thrives in bright locations. Water an aloe plant by thoroughly drench the soil and then allowing the water to drain freely. Do this by ensuring the pot has plenty of drainage holes or, if not, remove the plant from the pot before watering. Always ensure that the soil of the plant is completely dry before rewatering. Aloe Vera is considered a medicinal plant as it can be used to heal wounds and skin conditions, though it’s toxic to pets. Even if you don’t use it for its healing properties, reap its air-purification benefits!

Pothos

Pothos
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This green beauty is perfect for shelves because, though it starts out small, its trailing vines can grow up to 10 feet long. Pothos thrives with medium to bright indirect light, although it can impressively withstand low-light conditions. This plant requires erratic watering care and it’s important to let its soil dry out between waterings. Pothos is not pet friendly.

Peace Lily

Peace Lily
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Peace Lilies are indoor-friendly plants that produce a beautiful white flower. Peace Lilies enjoy medium to low light. Avoid overwatering these plants because it’s often the most common reason for it to die. Instead, check the soil a couple of times a week. If it’s dry it needs watering, if it’s damp it doesn’t. The leaves will actually droop when it needs watering so watch out for that too. These plants are not pet friendly so keep them out of reach of any four-legged friends.

Snake Plant

Sanseviera/Snake Plant
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This exotic plant, also known as Sanseviera, is a great household addition due to the low-maintenance care it requires. This flame-like plant has air-purifying properties, and is even used as a charm against evil in its native land Africa, and in Latin America too. It grows bolt upright making it the perfect home deco. The Snake Plant prefers bright light, though it can tolerate lower light levels too. This easy-to-care-for plant is perfect for beginners as it normally needs watering every 7 to 14 days. This could even be longer in the winter months, always allow the soil to dry thoroughly between watering. It does wonders for filtering out harmful chemicals and purifying the air, though it’s not pet friendly.

These air purifying plants are not only beautiful additions to any home, they also filter our homes of those nasty air pollutants. These houseplants plants, among many others, clean the air, remove toxins and also offer an abundance of benefits that can be found here. What’s your favourite air purifying plant?

Green Living: 10 Tips for Simple Sustainability at Home

Sustainable living is governed by a lifestyle that aims to reduce a person’s environmental impact. When broken down into small steps, we have the power to make changes in many aspects of our day-to-day life. Though the journey to consuming mindfully and sustainable living may not happen overnight, by making some of these simple changes you can start reducing your environmental impact today. To make sustainable living more accessible, here are 10 simple tips to help you live greener.

Kettle Care

Any tea or coffee lovers out there? This one’s for you. By simply measuring out the water before boiling, whether that be in the mug itself or with the markings on the kettle, you will save energy. The UK actually uses more electricity on kettles than it does on ovens. Luckily the solution is simple, don’t overfill the kettle and regularly descale it to clean out the limescale. If it’s full of limescale it actually takes more energy to boil the same amount of water.

white ceramic cup on saucer
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Control Food Waste

Take a look at the fresh produce in your kitchen, particularly the fridge. In order to eliminate food waste, plan your meals around what’s available and prioritise food in order of sell-by date. If a perishable product is about to go off, for example bread or bananas, freeze it. Instead of throwing away any food that has already reached its expiry date, remove it from its packaging and place it in the food bin so it can be disposed of in an eco-friendly way.

Less Energy on Laundry

When it comes to washing your clothes, the most efficient way to save energy is by turning down the temperature on the washing machine. In fact, research confirms that washing at 30°C instead of 40°C reduces your energy consumption on average by 57% per cycle. The majority of the cycle’s energy goes on heating up the water, so by reducing the temperature less energy is consumed. Additional energy can also be saved by hanging fresh washing out to dry as opposed to using a machine dryer.

Washable Cloths

The idea of having a disposable tea towel seems absurd, yet that’s not quite the case with our cleaning cloths. By investing in washable cleaning cloths for cleaning and dusting your home, you are able to reduce household waste by washing rather than throwing away dirty cloths.

wooden hanger with towels and basket with bathroom products
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Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

The next time you’re in need of a new cleaning product, opt for the eco-friendly options. Make a concerted effort to find local stores that stock these eco-friendly products as not all supermarkets will sell them. These products reap benefits as they don’t harm the environment. Additionally, by going green there will no longer be harmful chemicals absorbed into the skin or breathed in when cleaning. It’s a win-win purchase.

Ditch the Plastic

Fortunately, many governments have enforced laws to limit the use and sales of plastic. As of October 2020, regulations banned the sales of plastic straws, cotton buds and stirrers in England. We, as individuals, can also promote conscious living by ditching plastic. Replace the one-use plastic bags at the store with reusable shopping bags like tote bags or the lifelong bags available at the check-out. Also, when looking for new beauty, hygiene or cleaning products, opt for the solid options like bar soaps and shampoos. Instead of investing in products that come in plastic packaging, look for ones with glass containers for sustainability purposes.

LED Lightbulbs

The next time you go shopping for a new lightbulb, get an LED bulb as opposed to the conventional fluorescent bulb. Though LED bulbs tend to be more expensive, they actually save money in the long run as they are more energy efficient. LED bulbs produce less waste than their fluorescent counterparts when producing light. One reason is because more energy is spent on producing light rather than heat.

black kettle beside condiment shakers and green fruits and plants on tray on brown wooden table
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Go Paperless

Paperless billing is particularly common nowadays. From household bills to banking, the majority of companies offer email billing rather than post paper billing to save on paper. It’s also a great way to make bills more accessible too. Many tasks like assignments and journaling can also be done virtually too. Also, a kindle is a great option for any book lovers.

Avoid Trends

When shopping, ask yourself will I use this a year from now or is it just a fad? Think about your potential purchases with the future in mind, especially fashion. Shop for timeless products and items of clothing that you fall in love with, disregarding the influence of current trends. Shop smart on your journey towards sustainability.

Recycle, Resell, Reuse

For all things paper, plastic and glass related, recycling is a sustainable option. In terms of clothing, objects, games, toys etc., these products can be resold on sites like Ebay, Facebook, or even donated to local charities and, in turn, given to a new home. For items that have had their fair share of wear and tear, get creative and see if they can be turned into something new. A good place to start could be turning an old t-shirt into a cleaning cloth, though YouTube is an amazing source of DIY inspiration.

“Cherish the natural world because you’re a part of it and you depend on it.” – Sir David Attenborough

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Conscious Living: Eco-Friendly UK Brands

Conscious living is definitely trending in 2020 and with Black Friday promotions, why not treat yourself to some sustainable purchases? Sustainable brands aim to ensure that products are manufactured in a way that has minimal undesirable environmental effects. So many incredible businesses are acknowledging the issue of climate change and adapting to support sustainability.  Here are some UK brands and businesses with long-term sustainability goals that are worth celebrating just in time for some Christmas shopping.

two pink and white gift boxes with ribbon
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Fashion

The fashion industry is reportedly the second most polluting after oil due to its rapid turnover in trends conceptualising disposable clothing. The greenhouse gas emissions the industry produces has a lot to do with the globalisation of the industry, with items designed, manufactured, and sold on a global scale. So it’s more important than ever to shop as sustainably and locally as possible with slow fashion in mind.

TALA, a UK brand specialising in active wear, has a sustainable and slow fashion focus. Its core values are sustainable styles with ethical manufacturing that don’t break the bank. For other eco-friendly ethical clothing brands, shop Wearth London. The platform features British manufacturers that use the best eco-friendly and cruelty-free materials with carbon neutral deliveries. In fact, they go further than fashion with the most beautiful gifts, jewellery, homeware and more. Be sure to check it out!

fashionable woman with huge chain on neck
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Make-up, Beauty and Skincare

Recent years have seen a growing trend in beauty brands opting for zero waste, plastic-free beauty routines. The beauty industry is renowned for its surplus in packaging, producing 120 billion units per year. Consequently, these products pollute our planet’s waters, endangers species and have a detrimental impact on our planet. This is why natural, environmentally-friendly products made by UK brands are the way forward.

All Earth Mineral Cosmetics is an incredible UK mineral makeup brand. The natural products are all vegan, cruelty-free and eco-friendly. In addition, they offer completely plastic-free refill options. For beautiful sustainably-sourced skincare and beauty ranges, shop The Body Shop. The Body Shop strives to be as eco-friendly as possible working towards long-term sustainability goals. To name a few: zero waste packaging, fewer plastic, recycling schemes, refill stations and much more. Plus, their products have an array of enticing aromas that make your skin super soft.

jade roller
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Gifts

Buying gifts is a part of the Christmas magic. What makes it even more magical is knowing that your purchases contribute to conscious living without exploiting animals or the environment. Let’s make this Christmas as green as possible by shopping UK brands and businesses.

Green Tulip is a UK business that specialises in ethical, eco-friendly gifts. Perfect for men, women and children, Green Tulip really has something for everyone with anything from kitchen gifts to ready-made gift sets. Protect The Planet is another inspiring UK retailer which specialises in environmentally-friendly gifts. Be sure to click on the made in the UK or recycled category for the most conscious choices. From eco office to green garden, it caters for all tastes.

crop woman with various flowers in shop
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By shopping sustainably and looking a little further into the brands and businesses we invest in, we are one step closer to conscious living. Shop closer to home this Christmas and opt for brands that don’t cost the earth. What are your top UK eco-friendly brands?