One of my goals for 2017 is to find more sustainable alternatives to the least sustainable things that I use on a regular basis. This generally means things that create waste where it could be avoided. I already buy most of my fruit and vegetables from the market, avoiding plastic there. In the absence of a place where I can bulk buy dried foods in Cambridge (most of what goes in our landfill bin is plastic wrap), I started to think about other ways to reduce waste around our house, and when I’m out and about.
Over the last 6 months or so, I have made four notable purchases which I feel have not only lessened my impact on the earth, but are either more cost-effective or practical (or both) than the previous alternatives.
KeepCups, or reusable coffee cups are becoming much more common – most coffee chains offer reusable cups, and some give discounted prices for using a reusable one instead of a paper cup. For the longest time I didn’t realise that paper coffee cups weren’t recyclable, and I would always throw them in the recycling bin. After watching Hugh’s War on Waste and being told that in fact they weren’t recyclable, I decided to get a KeepCup to avoid creating unnecessary waste. I don’t buy coffee to take away that frequently, but my colleagues regularly buy coffee from the shop next to our office and when I got one it seemed ridiculous to be getting coffee in a paper cup when the shop was about 15ft from our office.
KeepCups start from about £7.00 (the regular size starts from £10.00), and you can design your own, allowing you to choose from a wide range of colours to mix and match the different elements of your cup. They’re also currently doing a Star Wars series of themed cups, y’know, if you’re into that.
- Chillys Bottle
This has been my favourite and most useful purchase by far. I take it with me everywhere. It keeps cold water cold for 24 hours, and hot liquid warm for 12 hours. Great on a hot day when you want some cold water, or keeping your coffee hot for later. They’re not cheap, but the amount I’ve used it over the last few months, it’s definitely paid for itself. Mine cost £30 – I would guess the average person would manage to buy 30+ bottles of water in a year, so it is saving me money. I bought one for my boyfriend as well with his initials on it (because, custom).
Splosh produce eco-friendly and sustainable cleaning products. It’s a brilliant idea that cuts out a huge amount of plastic from its supply chain and drastically reduces consumer waste. Think Ecover, but without buying a bottle every time. You begin with a ‘starter pack’ of a number of bottles, each that has either liquid already in it, or dissolvable sachets which become the product when you add hot water. When you’ve finished each product, you simply go on their website or app and purchase refills, which come in the post within a couple of days. You can return empty liquid packs which are then reused or recycled by Splosh. They are up front about the fact that their packaging and production aren’t as sustainable as they want it to be, but I kind of like the honesty that no product is completely perfect, and that they’re always striving to do better.
We haven’t used much of the products (washing up liquid; hand soap; toilet cleaner; laundry powder; fabric conditioner; kitchen spray; bathroom spray) yet, as we’ve been using up the ones we have already. But from what I’ve used, it’s been good – and smells better, not of chemicals, but of nicer fragrances, like orange or mint or cotton flower. Mmm cotton flower.
- Who Gives a Crap?
Last but certainly not least, we have toilet paper. Who Gives A Crap make their toilet paper from bamboo, not trees – making it more sustainable as bamboo grows much faster than trees do. They wrap it in paper with cool designs (so no plastic!), and you buy it in bulk – it figures out cheaper than supermarket toilet paper, and let’s face it, it’s not like it’s not going to get used. Be wary if having it delivered to your office though – my boyfriend had our 48 rolls delivered to his office last week, and it prompted a mass email begun from one of our friends starting a sweepstake between our friends as to how long it would take us to use all the toilet paper. The guesses ranged from May-July this year, whereas Oscar and I calculated it would last us until at least December, so none of them will be winning.
Anyway, it’s a great product, and the company gives half their profits to charities working to improve hygiene, access to clean water and sanitation in developing countries – so good all round.