Part (II): Zero-Waste Essentials
Be sure to read till the end. I have a BIG surprise for you!
Imagine no trash? Imagine no animals ingesting plastics? Imagine a world free from pollution? Microfibres? Non-biodegradable bottles?
What a world that would be!
Zero-wasting basically means producing no waste. You carry your bag to buy groceries, you purchase sustainable fashion items and so on. It is pretty much one of the most controversial movements in the environmental fields of study. Can we truly be zero-waste? But what if we can not, do we stop trying to reduce our waste?
Here is where conscious consumerism steps in. The movement is not asking you to stop buying nuts because they come packaged in plastic. I am asking you to take your own bag or jar to buy nuts. I’m also not asking you to stop wearing socks because they come wrapped in plastic. I am just asking you to either find ones that aren’t wrapped at all or not to hoard on socks. You get the drill! Reducing our waste is vital for our own wellbeing as much as it is for the planet and everything around us.
Now, let’s go through the list of “zero-waste” essentials I personally think should be on everyone’s shopping list.
Soapberries or Soap Nuts
Did you know that the detergents we use on a daily basis are loaded with harmful chemicals? Your body does not know all those synthetic fibres and so it mistakes them for hormones and acts accordingly! No wonder we live in the age of manmade disease! Soap nuts are basically nature’s soap, free from any chemicals or processing. They grow on a tree and they are naturally foamy and have a plain clean scent. They’re also cheaper than most soap or detergents. Now, I won’t lie, soap nuts are a bit tricky to use. The best way I found when using it as laundry soap is to soak the nuts for about 30 minutes in hot water before using the soaking water along with the soap nuts in the washing machine. It is also recommended to use them with hot water, never cold, or else they’re soap won’t be activated. As a shampoo, I boil about 5 nuts and let them simmer for about 20 minutes. I then squeeze out as much foam as I can from the nuts and I used the liquid to massage my scalp for a few minutes. I then leave it on for about 20 minutes, if possible, and then I rinse it out. My hair is usually very soft, clean and shiny after I do this.
The best bit? You can reuse the nuts a few times and then compost them!
Where to find: Online and in health food stores in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. My friend Manon said you can buy them fresh in Indonesia, which makes using them so much easier.
I’ve been using bamboo toothbrushes for years! I haven’t bought a plastic toothbrush in a long time and I can’t imagine ever buying one again. Not after I learnt that there are entire beaches covered in used toothbrushes in South America! Did you know that your own toothbrushes could have traveled from anywhere in the world to be washed up there.
Where to find: Most health store or green beauty stores around the world and online.
Bamboo Ear-picks (Mimikaki)
Cotton buds? What’s that? I believe the last time I picked up a box of cotton buds was almost three years ago! The ear-picks are a Japanese tool that can be purchased in plastic, bamboo or stainless steel. And while they look like medieval torture devices, they’re actually pretty easy to use.
But aren’t we supposed to avoid sticking anything inside our ears? Well, yes and maybe, but if you’re going to stick something inside your ears, you better make sure it doesn’t harm you or the environment.
Where to find: Asia obviously but also any Asia town in Europe and North America will stock them. I got mine in Japan town in Düsseldorf. You can also find them online.
The first reaction I usually get to those two words is “eww.” But let’s break it down. It is your own blood. No, it isn’t disgusting. And it remains your own whether you discard of it in the toilet or the trash. Having your trash travel distances doesn’t mean it’s any less your own trash. Not to add how toxic those chemical-laden pads and tampons are to your health!
Getting the hang of it takes a couple of cycles but once you get used to it, it becomes so easy and comfortable. You don’t feel it’s existence, it’s pretty hygienic and it actually helps you understand your own cycle and detect any abnormalities. It’s basically a win-win for your health and the environment.
Where to find: Online and in health food stores in Europe and North America.
Update: OrganicCup is now available in Egypt.
Straws, Chopsticks, Utensils, Coffee Cups and Water Bottles
I know a lot of people say it’s a hassle to carry around extra items in their bags but I also know that those people never tried. While moving my items from one bag to another, I’ll move my wallet, my pot of shea butter, my keys, my straw and my chopsticks. Sounds easy enough? yeah, I thought so. Little switches with big impact.
I use 24 bottles and BKR but I also highly recommend Klean Kanteen and Two Thirds‘ bottles. I also use a medium-sized Keep Cup. I’ve had it for about 4 years and I gotta say, it’s chic and indestructible!
I’m glad you made it till the end! Here’s the big news: UrbanEarthlings will soon be an online shop for all things sustainability. All the items on this list will be available through the shop. Not only that, but most items will be manufactured locally and the shop will be a non-profit, which basically means that all profits will benefit charities around Egypt and the world!
I can not announce the launch date yet but I’m already receiving samples and working on the packaging. It will probably be right after the summer holiday. Please, let me know if you have any questions, comments or requests here. Anyone as excited as I am?