Here are some easy tips and simple swaps that I have been making in my life and maybe you could also make this week:

1. Toothpaste

Toothpaste tubes are not recyclable.

Alternative: Inspired by Lauren Singer, another zero waster, I have been making my own toothpaste. It’s so simple. All you need is:

– coconut oil
– bicarbonate of soda
– peppermint oil

Here is her little film on how to make it.

Tip: Don’t leave out the peppermint oil, bicarb is salty. Don’t leave it in direct sunlight, the coconut oil will melt.

Bonus: Way cheaper than toothpaste and your housemates won’t steal any!

2. Toothbrush

Most toothbrushes are made of plastic and are non-recyclable. Just think, every toothbrush you have ever used will remain on this earth for generations after you have gone.

Alternative: A bamboo toothbrush; these are biodegradable and come in cardboard packaging:

Tip: Order a few at a time to save on postage and packaging.

Bonus: You can write your name on the handle if others in your house have the same brush as you.

3. Tissues

I suffer from hay fever, so all summer my bin is usually full of tissues. We’re also now deep into winter cold season.

Alternative: Handkerchiefs.

Tip: Go for dark colours. I was mocked mercilessly by my housemates for asking for hankies for my birthday. Don’t give in to the mockers, it’s character building.

Bonus: I no longer have to spend money on tissues and my bin is far emptier.

4. Make-up wipes

Not only do the wipes fill your bin, but the plastic they come in isn’t recyclable either

Alternative: Soap!

Tip: Buy soap that comes in a box, or unwrapped, otherwise you have to send more plastic to landfill. At least you can recycle a box.

Bonus: You run out a lot less often and it’s way cheaper.

5. Cling film

Cling film is a type of plastic you cannot recycle.

Alternative: We mostly use cling film to store food, here are some alternatives, you’ll probably have more I haven’t listed.

– Containers or glass jars with lids, i.e. old ice cream tubs, old jam jars
– A bowl with a plate over the top
Bee’s Wrap make a lovely, natural alternative to cling film made from cloth and bees wax.
– If none of the above are an option, foil is a better alternative as you can recycle tin foil.

Tip: If you are responsible for the shopping in your house, don’t buy cling film. If you don’t have it, you can’t use it.

Bonus: If you have a cheeky piece of cheesecake left in the fridge and it’s hidden in a bowl with a plate over the top, no-one else will know and it is less likely to be eaten before you have a chance!

This post is part of a series that our friends at Rhythms are writing on minimalism and ethical lifestyles.

Written by Jo Herbert // Follow Jo on  Twitter

Jo Herbert has worked for Tearfund for over 10 years helping young people and young adults connect with issues of justice. She is also studying a Masters in Theology and Youthwork at Kings College London. An activist and ethical living guru, she passionately believes we can all build justice into our daily decisions. She can often be found baking, drinking good (fairtrade) coffee and cycling! She hates the rain, injustice, plastic - ask her about it!

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