We’re a generation of convenience-lovers which has been the largest contributor to the myriad environmental issues we face today. We love one-use products that reduce our wash-load and our interactions with grossness, but at a massive cost to the health of our oceans and our earth.
Now it’s time to get real about reusable items for everything; and trust us, it’s not as gross as you might think.
NO to toilet paper, YES to washable rags
You might think that toilet paper isn’t the worst thing in the world for the environment as it breaks down in water and doesn’t contribute to landfill waste, but it’s actually super harmful in terms of the vast deforestation it contributes to and the harmful chemicals that are released into the environment during its production.
Now, yes you can use recycled or biodegradable rolls, but consider this waste-free alternative; reusable cloths that can be thrown in the washing machine. If you’re worried about smells, add a few drops of essential oil to whatever bin you use for the cloths pre-washing. And when it comes to “number twos”, do what the rest of Europe does and invest in a bidet. Okay, so that’s not possible for everyone, but a bottle of water or a perineal cleansing bottle (for post-partum cleansing) is an excellent alternative.
NO to food waste, YES to indoor composting
It’s a lot to expect someone to tip away all their waste food products into the outdoor compost bin EVERY time, but you don’t even have to with the bokashi bin method. There are various ways of composting in your kitchen, but this is the most popular. All you have to do is tip your waste into your worktop bin (they’re around the size of a small bucket), and add a special bran full of microbes that break down food quickly. Then when it’s full, you can throw the mixture onto your main compost heap.
If you’re worried about your kitchen smelling of putrid food, you’re actually more likely to get that from your kitchen bin. Bokashi bins typically smell more acidic, a little like vinegar, when used correctly, which is certainly an easier smell to deal with.
NO to disposable nappies, YES to reusable nappies
Most people will spend £30-40 a month on nappies which is a lot of money when you could spend the same amount on a bunch of reusable nappies and liners. With some reusable nappies, you don’t even have to change them at changing time; you can just swap out the cloth liners. Just like reusable rags for the toilet, you can drop used ones in a bin with a few drops of essential oil prior to washing.
If it’s a number two, you just have to empty the waste into the toilet and rinse the liner (and nappy if it’s a leakage situation) in the kitchen sink (removing the washing up bowl first) and throw it in the wash.
And before you go “Eww, gross!”, babies often have accidents that leak through their clothes so you’re going to be doing a lot of poop rinsing in the sink regardless of whether you use disposable or reusable nappies.
NO to disposable sanitary towels, YES to reusable period products
There are so many options for period care now that you’re bound to find a method that is both sustainable and comfortable.
Reusable pads and period pants can be thrown into the wash with the rest of your underwear, and last a long time (though not forever). Once they’re no longer effective, they can be washed and recycled with other fabrics or repurposed as cleaning rags.
Menstrual cups (also known as Moon Cups or Diva Cups), are flexible cups that can be inserted to catch the menstrual blood, and then empty and rinsed out as often as necessary. They are difficult to recycle, but they only need replacing every two years so you’re still minimising waste.
NO to tissues, YES to handkerchiefs
With the invention of one-use paper tissues, there was actually a lot of skepticism that it would take off. People were pretty much attached to their handkerchiefs. It’s about time we brought that tradition back. Sure, snot is gross but worse things probably go through your washing machine. Plus, they can be reused more often at one time than tissues; sometimes it takes 3-4 when you’re trying to blow your nose because tissue just disintegrates with a single drop of liquid. Handkerchiefs are far more practical.