Inside the rise of the ‘Zero Waste Influencer’ – easy tips to be green like Beyoncé

Inside the rise of the ‘Zero Waste Influencer’ – easy tips to be green like Beyoncé

09/05/2021

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If you carry a reusable water bottle, take your tote bag out shopping and recycle what you can, you’re doing your bit for the environment, right?

Celebrities like Beyoncé, George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio are all stepping up to help save the planet, while Holly Willoughby is often snapped in sustainable clothing.

But despite our best efforts, us Brits still produce an average of 400kg of rubbish every year.

The more waste we throw out, the more devastating the effects on our natural world.

Greenhouse gases emitted as rubbish breaks down are contributing to global warming, and our oceans are overflowing with discarded plastic. So what can we do?

Here in the UK, zero-waste living is on the rise. The aim is to send little (or, as the name suggests, absolutely no) rubbish to landfill.

While it might sound pretty unachievable, making small changes to the way we consume – and dispose of – items could be the solution to our terrible trash problem.

And knowing we’re doing our bit to save the planet, can, according to the UN, have a positive effect on our wellbeing.

To mark Zero Waste Week (6-10 September), here are some simple ways to reduce rubbish without compromising your lifestyle…

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Eco-friendly bathroom buys

Switch from a plastic toothbrush to one made from bamboo (£4.50, thetruthbrush.com). The compostable handle can have a second life as a plant stick, or be used in arts and crafts.

Globally, 80 billion plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles are ditched every year. Swap for soap and conditioner bars, or shampoo cubes (£9.50 for 27, beautykubes.co.uk), which you crumble in your hand and add water to, making a lather.

Do you use disposable cotton pads to remove cosmetics? Change to reusable make-up remover pads that you wash and reuse (£13.50 for a pack of 16, boots.com).

One reusable pad can be used up to 300 times before replacing, so a pack of 16 will last you 13 years.

Period pains hurt the environment, too. A standard pack of disposable sanitary towels contains the equivalent of four plastic bags’ worth of plastic.

Reusable pads (from £4.75, bloomandnora.com) or “period pants” that you wash and wear again are the way forward. If you prefer tampons, try silicone menstrual cups (£20.95, mooncup.co.uk).

Did you know, you’ll use 384 trees’ worth of toilet paper in your life? Most come wrapped in plastic, so look for rolls made from recycled paper and wrapped in paper.

Buy 24 rolls of 100% recycled toilet paper for £24 at whogivesacrap.com.

Food for thought

Savvy supermarket shopping is a simple way to reduce unnecessary packaging being brought into your home.

Buy in bulk. The larger the packet, the less packaging in the long run. Think toilet rolls, bags of rice, and sharing bags of crisps. You can even freeze opened packets of crisps – so there’s no excuse to finish the whole bag now!

Go bananas. Choose loose fruit and veg over those wrapped in plastic. Opt for single bananas that have broken away from the bunch.

They’re more likely to be ignored by shoppers and become one of the 1.4 million bananas we throw away daily in the UK.

Look out for products in paper, cardboard or glass. They’re much more widely recycled than plastic. You can find sugar and flour in paper, pasta and rice in cardboard and ketchups and sauces in jars.

For extra zero-waste points, recycle the jars as vases or for storage.

Choose your tea wisely. Tea bags are made from natural plant fibres, but to avoid them falling apart when boiled water is poured over them, many are held together by a small amount of plastic sealant – look for little tea bag skeletons in your compost heap!

Clipper sells tea bags with a biodegradable plant-based plastic, or buy loose leaf instead.

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Shop the reduced section. Yes, these items are usually wrapped in plastic, but if no one buys them, both the food and the packaging is thrown out. So at least you’re saving the food from going to landfill.

Say no to receipts. They may look like ordinary paper but the majority are made from a type of thermal paper that contains plastic, so can’t be recycled.

Refill revolution

Up your zero-waste game by visiting zero-waste shops.

Take in your empty containers to stock up on store cupboard essentials such as pasta, oats and nuts, plus liquids such as shampoo, conditioner and washing detergent. Can’t find one nearby? Sign up to refill services online.

Loopstore.co.uk has partnered with Tesco to revolutionise your weekly shop.

Buy products in long-lasting packaging in-store or online. When they’re empty, they’re picked up free of charge, then Loop cleans and refills the containers before returning them to you.

What about so-called non-recyclables?

Lots of plastics are labelled as “not yet recyclable”. Truth is, most things can be recycled, just not in your local council pick-up.

Soft plastic such as grocery bags, bread bags and crisp packets can be dropped off at larger Tesco stores, while Boots are encouraging people to bring in their beauty and dental products for recycling.

Check out TerraCycle, a scheme set up to recycle those “non-recyclables”, such as cheese packets, Pringles tubes and razors.

The zero waste code

A life free from rubbish follows the 5 Rs…

Refuse things you don’t need – especially freebies and single-use items such as water bottles, disposable coffee cups and paper towels.

Reduce the amount of things you buy, plus sell unwanted items or donate to charity.

Reuse, repurpose and repair items rather than throwing them out.

Recycle what you can – but it should be a last resort.

Rot down everything that can be composted.

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