Our guide for a zero-waste home, one room at a time
When you start trying to live a zero-waste lifestyle, a little help is always welcome. It's not that easy at first, and it doesn't all come naturally. What rules do you need to know? Where should you buy things? How can you make sure you choose the right products?
Going zero waste is a positive thing to do, but you have to know where to begin. And you have to do it at your own pace. If not, it's all too easy to become frustrated and give up.
And so, to help you, we've got lots of tips so you can transform your home into a zero-waste space, one room at a time. Soon you'll have no more excuses not to make the change!
A zero-waste bathroom: our action plan
Make an inventory of the products in your bathroom
The bathroom is THE room to start with if you're a zero-waste beginner! Why? Because it contains the most single-use items and plastic. Think shampoo, shaving products, cotton pads, cotton buds (Q-tips), etc.
If you want to transition to zero waste, one of the first things to do is to make lists! After all, how can you know where to begin if you don't have a starting point? Make a list of all the products held in plastic containers, such as shampoos, skincare products, etc. You'll probably be surprised at how many there are, and how much plastic you use!
Get rid of non-essential products
It's a fact: we tend to overconsume. In 2019, the human race had used up a year's worth of the Earth's resources in just seven months! And as the years go by, the figures get worse. That's why it's so important to stick to the essentials. If you listen to all the marketing hype, you'd be forgiven for believing that every cosmetic product offers unique benefits. It's a way of encouraging you to consume more. But there's nothing better than formulas made with naturally derived ingredients. Forget about products packed with additives and petrochemicals, and opt for 100% naturally derived, solid cosmetics that come in recyclable packaging, or are even sold loose! You'll often find that one product can be used for different purposes. Take cocoa butter, for example. You can use it as a face cream, body butter and/or massage oil! If you want to declutter your bathroom shelves and cupboards, multi-purpose products are the way forward!
There's only one question you need to ask yourself when you're sorting through your products: do I really need it? And often the answer is: no! When you've finished all that sorting, you'll wonder why you didn't do it before!
Switch from conventional to solid cosmetics
Once you've eliminated all the unnecessary products, it's time to find zero-waste versions of those you can't live without! You'll be pleased to know that zero-waste alternatives are often better for your health – and, of course, the planet.
There are lots of products in solid form that can be used instead of conventional cosmetics. At Lamazuna, all our solid cosmetics are made with naturally derived ingredients. This is good news for your body, as you won't be putting petrochemicals on your skin, and better for the environment too.
It shouldn't be difficult to find solid alternatives for the products you use every day – and the list of solid cosmetics is getting longer all the time! Lamazuna now offers solid shampoos for different hair types, solid facial cleansers for different skin types, a solid deodorant, a solid shaving bar, and solid toothpastes. We've also recently added a solid conditioner! You'll find the entire range here.
As for those single-use products and other plastic items, you'll find alternatives for them too! Swap your facial cotton pads for reusable, washable cleansing wipes. Swap your cotton buds for an Oriculi. (This unique little ear cleaner is now available in a brand-new version made from bioplastic!) And, of course, swap your bad-for-the-environment, disposable menstrual products for greener alternatives, such as a menstrual cup or washable sanitary pads.
You're spoilt for choice! Even when you've narrowed it down to zero-waste products!
A zero-waste kitchen: our tips and tricks
Start by sorting through your kitchen cupboards
If you're aiming for a zero-waste home, then you'll need to take the rules you applied to your bathroom and apply them everywhere else, starting with the kitchen! The first step is the same: make an inventory of everything you have in your cupboards. Again, there are probably lots of non-essential products, so get rid of those you don't need. But don't throw them away! If they can still be used, give them away!
Go shopping, but bring back less packaging
The kitchen is where the food is, of course. But often, that food is wrapped in excess packaging. If you do your grocery shopping at the supermarket, you must have noticed the amount of packaging that's used for products, and particularly fruit and vegetables. Sometimes they're wrapped in plastic when they already have their own natural protection – their skin!
Packaging is used to market a product, or to protect it, but it always ends up in the bin. According to the news television network, France 24, many consumers are now reporting overpackaged food items on social media, in an effort to make more people aware of how ridiculous the situation can be.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to avoid all that pointless packaging. Try shopping somewhere else and buying from local producers, by heading to your local market. The food won't be wrapped, plus you'll know where it came from! If you can't find what you're looking for there, try a grocery store that sells loose produce. In recent years, the number of stores selling products loose has grown considerably, so you should be able to find one nearby.
If you live in France, you can visit the Réseau Vrac website or use the interactive map of loose produce stores in the country.
Sustainable accessories: much-loved must-haves!
No zero-waste kitchen would be complete without eco-friendly utensils and accessories! And again, the choice keeps on growing! There's no more excuse for buying single-use paper kitchen roll and plastic cutlery, when you can switch to reusable fabric, stainless steel or bamboo. As for carrying your shopping, everyone should have a tote bag! It doesn't take up much space, and ensures you avoid plastic bags. You might also need some small loose produce bags to hold all those ingredients that you buy loose!
For drinks and other liquids, you can choose between glass or stainless steel drinking bottles and tumblers. Both are designed to last – and to look good!
There are plenty of other eco-friendly accessories for your zero-waste kitchen, such as reusable straws, lunch boxes, etc. You'll find them all in our zero-waste kitchen section!
Transform your leftovers
Zero waste means nothing is wasted! But only too often, we throw our leftovers into the bin – and our zero-waste principles out of the window! But you can avoid this. Just be inventive!Get those creative juices flowing and think up new recipes to use your leftover food. Too much pasta? Why not make a fresh pasta salad or a gratin? Too many grilled vegetables? Make some caponata! There are countless ways to transform your leftovers into delicious meals! And if you're not feeling inspired, you can always surf the Web.
Get yourself some kitchen recycling bins!
Our final tip for your zero-waste kitchen is to sort and recycle your waste. That may seem easy, but it's not as simple as that. Where do you put your drink cans or cereal boxes, for example?
Fortunately, you can turn to the internet for help! You'll find lots of websites that tell you how to sort and recycle your household waste. You could also contact your local authorities to make sure you follow the guidelines in your area.
You'll need some bins so you can separate items that can be recycled from those that can't. You may also need to separate recyclable items into different categories (plastic, glass, paper, etc.). If you live in a house, your local authorities will usually provide recycling bins. If you live in a flat, you can opt for smaller bins that you then empty into the communal ones.
Have a zero-waste garden
If you want to have a zero-waste home, that includes your garden, if you have one! (By the way, some of our tips for a zero-waste garden can also be applied if you have a balcony.)
Harvest your rainwater!
Our first tip is to harvest your rainwater! You can then use it to water your plants, wash your car, etc. Not only is this an eco-friendly thing to do; it will also save you money! First, you need a large container, such as a salvaged barrel, water tank or water butt. Place it below the end of a gutter or install a downpipe rainwater diverter, so the water will fall into the container. Then you're ready to harvest!
Quick tip: if you place your water butt on a stand, you'll be able to collect the water from it more easily. Water butts come in lots of different shapes and sizes, so if you want yours to be a garden feature, you should be able to find something you like! There are some that look like large terracotta urns or real wooden barrels, for example!
Compost your organic matter
Composting is a very natural and ecological way to recycle your waste. It allows you to transform organic matter biologically to produce a compost that makes a good fertilizer and soil conditioner for your garden.
Remember, you can only compost certain things, such as eggshells, vegetable and fruit peels, damaged fruits and vegetables, grass cuttings, leaves, etc.
With the help of your homemade compost, you'll be able to enrich your soil, so you can grow healthy, beautiful plants! If you live in a flat and it's impossible to have a compost heap/bin, there are other solutions, such as neighbourhood composting programmes, community compost heaps, and even indoor composters.
Can you really make every room in your house zero waste?
Use second-hand or repurposed furniture
Remember: recycle, repair and repurpose! Always try to give a new life to objects that aren't used anymore. So either you repair them, or you give them a new purpose and transform them into something useful. Or you could simply rejuvenate them! Julie, an Instagrammer, has lots of brilliant ideas! She breathes new life into old, old-fashioned furniture. Take a look at her page and you're bound to be inspired. Sometimes, all it takes is a few licks of paint. It's a great, eco-friendly way to save money and transform your furniture!
Repair things when you can
It's not always easy to repair things – especially if it's electrical appliances. Plus, when an appliance breaks down, it can often work out cheaper to buy a new one rather than repair it...
If you enjoy doing a spot of DIY, you'll find there are lots of things you can repair. Changing a screw, fixing a broken chair leg, patching up clothes... All these little repairs will save you money, plus you won't be putting any pressure on the environment!
But if the thought of DIY sends you running, you'll be pleased to know that there are more and more repair cafés popping up these days. These are places where people can share their knowledge and skills, and where you'll find "fixers" specialized in different types of repairs!
Zero waste also means saving water and energy
Cut down your water consumption
If you've already read our article about how to use less water, then you'll know that water is becoming a precious commodity. To make sure you don't waste water at home, start by checking your pipes for leaks.
There are also accessories to help you reduce your water consumption, such as low-flow shower heads and tap aerators. Another trick is to put a bottle in your toilet cistern, so you use less water when you flush. None of these solutions cost much. And it goes without saying: don't leave taps running!
Reduce your energy consumption
There are also simple steps you can take to reduce energy use, with benefits for both you and the environment. Use the eco mode on your electrical appliances. Unplug appliances when they're not being used. Switch off multi-socket adaptors. These are little things you can do every day, and which make a positive difference!
It's not difficult to consume more responsibly and change your habits. It may take a while, but it shouldn't cost you much, if anything. You just have to be committed and determined!
With a little help from the tips we've given you here, along with the websites and apps we've told you about, you should soon be on your way to a zero-waste home! Remember to do it at your own pace, one room at a time, then move on to the garden. Before you know it, you'll be an expert in making every room in your house zero waste!