Zero Waste Non-Negotiables

Zero Waste Non-Negotiables

Living a low waste lifestyle shouldn’t mean having to spend more money to make an environmentally-friendly choice or going without because there isn’t a plastic-free alternative. While everyone should take a level of personal responsibility for the waste they cause, there is only so much we can do as individuals to change a system that is designed to cause waste.

I believe it’s important everyone has ‘zero waste non-negotiables’, a list of things they can’t or won’t live without regardless of how it comes packaged. These non-negotiations will differ from person to person and can vary depending on a variety of reasons such as lifestyle, financial, social, or health reasons. I’ve tried DIY-ing, switching to sustainable products, and going without certain items before realising there are things I can’t live without, plastic or no plastic.

I can’t tell you what your non-negotiables will be. It might take a little trial and error to discover what works for you and what doesn’t. After a couple of years of trying to reduce my waste, here is what I’ve discovered to be my personal zero waste non-negotiables:

Medical Supplies

Our health is more important than the waste we cause. I take supplements because my body can’t absorb iron properly and I occasionally get migraines, which require heavy duty painkillers. I'm accident prone and I bruise easily. All these things require medical supplies that often come packaged in plastic. If I ever need to heal a wound or treat an ailment, I don’t hesitate to purchase whatever is necessary to fix the problem and I don’t believe you should either. Some of us are in better health than others and find it easier to go without painkillers or supplements, bandages or ointments; many of us need them to sooth aches and pains or deal with health issues, and we shouldn’t feel guilty about the waste we cause because of that.

Sun Protection

I’m aware there are DIY sun screen recipes but I would encourage anyone thinking about making their own to reconsider. Sun care is not to be messed with. It’s so important we protect ourselves against the sun, I just don’t feel it’s worth the risk to avoid causing a small amount of plastic waste. There are zero waste sun protection options, however, the majority of them are not vegan-friendly and the ones that are aren’t always readily available in the UK. If you can find an animal-friendly, low waste sunscreen option (that isn’t make-it-yourself) then by all means, make the switch. I’ve yet to find a low waste sun protection option I trust so I’ll continue to use what I know.

Oral Hygiene

Aside from the fact it’s a struggle to find low waste and vegan-friendly alternatives, I’m not convinced that DIY toothpaste and other oral hygiene products are an effective or safe as conventional products. I don’t want to risk my dental health with homemade recipes found on the internet; I’d rather not risk damaging my teeth and instead prefer to stick to what I know works and keeps my teeth and gums healthy. The products I purchase create very little waste and although there are a couple of low waste products I will be making the switch to once my current ones have run out. I’m quite happy to continue purchasing the ones I already use for the sake of my health.

Beauty and Skincare

I’ve simplified my skincare routine and downsized my beauty products as far as I possibly can. I’ve given up wearing foundation and streamlined the products I use on a daily basis to a point where I can count them on one hand. Skincare is therapeutic and a form of self-care for me, it’s an enjoyable indulgence and my routine is already incredibly simple. I don’t want to stop wearing makeup altogether and only need to replace products once every 6-12 months. My habits cause little waste and there isn’t any way to reduce further it without giving up personal care altogether so, for me right now, beauty and skincare is a non-negotiable.

Foods Items

There are some foods that I enjoy eating yet are unavailable to me in plastic-free packaging. Tofu and tempeh or treat foods and snacks are all food items that I struggle to find low waste alternatives of. Of course, there are ways to avoid relying on the purchasing of pre-packaged goods; I cook from scratch, avoid processed foods and drinks, and rarely eat snacks but occasionally, I want a treat! So while I’ll try to head to the local bakery for a package-free treat or make my own at home, sometimes I’ll buy something ready made. Other foods like tofu simply aren’t available plastic-free and I’m not happy to just stop eating it. All we can do as consumers is push for brands to opt for environmentally-friendly packaging instead of relying on plastic for all their products.

What are your zero waste non-negotiables?

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Zero Waste Non-Negotiables