A few years ago, the Collins Dictionary word of the year was ‘single use’ – which is a pretty big indication of how disposable we’ve become. There are so many things in our modern lives that we use for a really short amount of time and then throw away. The twist is, when we throw things away, it’s not just what we see that’s being wasted – we’re also throwing away all of the embedded impact of that item, the resources, the manufacturing, the transportation…
Keeping things in use for longer, is a great way to reduce both our waste and our impact, and this can be as simple as switching out disposable items for a reusable alternative that can be used over and over again.
A great place to start is to take a look in your rubbish bin and see if there’s something that you’re throwing away regularly that could be replaced by something reusable. Or, here are some of my favourite switches to get you started:
- In the kitchen: Paper towels and cling film used to be regulars in my rubbish bin. Switching to reusable cloths for wiping up spills and replacing cling film with containers and beeswax wraps has been a game changer. I also like to refill my own jars and containers as a way to reduce disposable packaging waste. From pantry staples to deli treats, this wonderful Zero Waste Shopping Map from The Rubbish Trip is jam-packed with stores all around the country that encourage you to bring your own container.
- In the bathroom: I made the switch from disposable razors to a safety razor (where you only replace the blade) and have never looked back. I’ve always just used a facecloth for face cleansing, but I have friends who swear by reusable makeup removal wipes. There is also a world of reusable menstrual products out there now too. From period underwear, to reusable pads and cups, and even swimwear – check out this great Facebook group full of advice and recommendations.
- Out and about: If I’m grabbing coffee or food to go, I will always take my own cup or container. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy – I’m often seen at my local sushi shop with a dinner plate from the office kitchen. Not only does switching to reusables reduce the waste and impact of disposable packaging, but I swear things taste better when you’re not eating them out of single-use plastic or cardboard. I BYO my reusables to all sorts of places and have never been turned away, but you can also check out this handy Café Guide from the team at Use Your Own to see who is getting behind reusables in your area.
So go on – have a look in your bin and choose one thing to switch out for a reusable. Once you’ve nailed your change you’ll probably find you end up saving time and money too.
Photography: Lara Connors