These are my tried and tested eco-friendly products. I have been on my journey to low-no waste for roughly 5 years. During these 5 years I have tried and tested many products, and my absolute favourites are listed below. These products are inexpensive to buy, and will save you money compared to other alternatives.
Typically the kitchen is synonymous with producing waste. From food, to food packaging and cooking equipment. My first recommendation is a silicone mat. This mat replaces the need for tinfoil and oil in cooking. Not only does it reduce waste, but it is also a healthier option. Unfortunately, although tin foil (or aluminum foil) is recyclable if clean, the majority of it when used for cooking cannot be recycled as it is soiled with food and grease. Using a silicone mat cuts out the need for tin foil altogether, and saves on waste and your pocket. For example, if I used 1 roll of tin foil a month at €2, the cost per year is €24. The silicone mat is only €14.99, and I have been using mine for 3 years, although it pays for itself in than 1 year. Silicone Mats are widely available. I purchased mine from an Irish owned company called Faerly for €14.99.
Next up is my absolute FAVOURITE product, my KeepCup. I rarely leave the house without this. It is estimated that 500 billion single use coffee cups are thrown away every year. That’s one million cups a minute, every hour of every day! In Ireland, we throw away 22,000 coffee cups every single hour. Those statistics are shocking. Coffee cups give a false sense of comfort when using them as they are advertised as compostable. However, looking at the bigger picture, we should be aiming to reduce our waste, whether or not it is compostable.
Reusable coffee cups are widely available and I have many of them. My favourite is this Think Energy KeepCup, which I received as part of the Think Energy Campaign organised by Codema, Dublins Energy Agency. My other favourite cups would be the Stojo Cup, which collapses down for storage when not in use, and the Bodum Coffee Cup, which keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold.
I am a garlic girl, and found myself frequently roasting garlic in tinfoil. Unfortunately the silicone mat could not be used for roasting garlic. One day I was in the charity shop, and saw a Garlic Baker! The garlic baker I found was made in 1993, which means it is older than me! These are harder to find as they aren’t as popular in recent times, however you may find one in your local charity shop. I would highly recommend a garlic baker, they are zero waste, and the garlic roasts perfectly every time.
The Bathroom is another area where there is a large amount of waste generated. Last year I aimed to reduce my waste in as many areas as possible in the bathroom. I was extremely nervous about swapping to a natural deodorant, as I had tried numerous products previously and they never worked for me. However, I had come across WILD, and wanted to give it a go, and I have never looked back. The biggest issue for me was the withdrawal period from my antiperspirant, which I had been using for 10 years. I found it wasteful, but I was conscious of the chemicals I was putting on my body. There was hardly any withdrawal period (maybe 1-2 days), and it effectively combatted against any odors throughout the full day. You can purchase a once off product from Boots, or Faerly, or you can purchase a 3 month package from WILD.
Moving to our head, shoulders, knees and toes- I have been using shampoo, conditioner and body bars for years. I highly recommend these as they are zero waste, smell great and don’t contain nasty chemicals. All of my bars are Irish made, by small local suppliers. My hair has never been in better condition since the switch to bars, and I feel good knowing I am not contributing more waste buying plastic bottles. Many traditional bottle shampoos are filled with preservatives and chemicals that strip hair of its natural oils and leave the scalp dry. Shampoo bars contain many more natural ingredients that are good for hair, such as natural oils, vitamins, and minerals. (Irish brands, Palm free soaps, Janni Bars, Organicules)
Last, but certainly not least is one of the easiest, and most effective swaps you could make. If I could recommend one single product from my list for you to try, it would be the metal razor. This was one of the first ever swaps I made when I began my journey. Not only is a metal razor a better shave, but its practically zero waste. It can be a little daunting using a metal razor for the first time, but after a few tries you’ll wonder how you went so long without it!
On top of all that, a metal razor will save you money. A plastic packet of 4 plastic razors can cost up to €5, and might last on average 2 months. A metal razor will cost you roughly €25, and a packet of 10 blades costs €2, which should last you over a year, and the metal razor will last for life.
It makes sense environmentally and economically to make the switch!