I decided to start with something less overwhelming: health and beauty. I started replacing items with more environmentally friendly options as I used things up. I like to buy more than one thing at a time- I have 2 or 3 bottles of shampoo at a time, I buy 2 deodorant sticks at a time, etc. so that I never run out of anything and because things are usually cheaper in bulk. So I decided to stop buying these things and use up what I have, then start new products once I run out. My husband and I used gift cards to get started testing products out so that we weren’t breaking the bank on potential shampoo options that don’t even clean our hair. The first thing we ran out of was Q-tips. It sounds silly, but we go through those so quickly! I know they are mostly cotton and not the biggest waste source, but I kept seeing ads online for a company called LastObject and got increasingly curious about it. They make a product called LastSwab, which is a silicone swab you use to clean your ears. You wash it and reuse it forever, which is pretty cool! It even comes in a little case so you can travel with it, and of course I got a pink one. At first it felt super weird cleaning my ears with something that wasn’t soft, but once you use it a few times you adjust and it actually feels like a super awesome massage for your ears. Not bad for a first attempt at eliminating some trash from my life!
Next I started using bar soaps once I ran out of body wash. After a few weeks, my skin adjusted and now it is so soft just using Dove soap bars. I use Cerave bar soap on my face in the morning and a Yes to Tomatoes acne bar soap in the evenings to combat all the mask-acne I have been fighting for the past year. Next was everything else.
After my husband and I got married, we ended up with a few gift cards. I got him on board with my mission, and we spend one of our many quarantine weekends researching zero waste options for shampoos, conditioners, deodorant, etc. We ordered a few products to test out because this endeavor can get really expensive so I wanted to experiment for as little money as possible. Some zero waste options can cost significantly more than our usual plastic-packaged products, and as much as I want to go as close to zero waste as possible, I do not have unlimited money to spend on this mission.
Once all of our new products came in, I dove in head first and took a completely zero waste shower. I tested out a lavender shampoo bar, a lavender conditioner bar, a bar of acne soap for my face, a bar of soap for my body, a bar of shave soap, and a stainless steel single blade razor to shave my legs. When I got out of the shower, I used a bar of deodorant, a cardboard packaged stick of lip balm, my silicone ear swab, and a bamboo toothbrush. It felt incredible. It’s really empowering to use these products and think about what an impact I could be making. These products are also becoming preferable to me as well- I actually like using these products more than bottles of body wash and a plastic toothbrush. There are other products I still have to switch out, like our mouthwash and toothpaste, and I will go into more detail about each of these products and my journey to finding ones that work for me (and that are affordable) as we go along.