Reducing plastic / living zero waste (help)

Meyersaurus

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I am actively trying to produce less waste, and reduce my ecological footprint as much as possible, which is why I am trying to reduce my use of plastic, and so on (Let's lay aside the fact that the production of glass or other plastic-replacements are not 100% sustainable for a moment).
Up until recently I have tried to buy tissues and toilet paper rolls that are packaged in recycled plastic, which I thought was probably the best alternative, given that I haven't found a single no-waste shop in my area (I live in The Hague, if someone knows of a shop, please me know). However, I have recently learned that plastic can only be recycled 7-9 times until it can no longer be used/recycled, which makes me think that the best option is to just completely lay off plastic for good.
Now, I have always felt that handkerchiefs are kind of gross, but I am considering buying some of those for the sake of the environment... I have reusable face wipes, an organicup (period stuff you know), bamboo toothbrushes, toothpaste in a jar, shampoo bars and reusable bags, but there are still some things I don't seem to find alternatives for...

If you have any ideas on how to find environmental alternatives for the following please please please help me! Thank you!
PS. Please keep in mind that I am just a student and there is no no-waste store in my area...

- Toilet paper (package always in plastic, at best: recycled plastic so far)
- Tissues (do you recommend handkerchiefs? Or do you know other alternatives?)
- plant milk (I have found online tutorials on how to make soy milk by yourself, which I will eventually do some time, but I was hoping there might be a quicker/simpler way?)
- literally any kind of pasta, rice etc.
- pens (?)
- bread spreads such as margarine, hummus etc (I know I can make the hummus by myself)
- bread (there is always a sliver of plastic in the paper bag, why do they even do that? Also, I don't have an oven...)

...
 

Lou

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I've made flax milk. It's pretty easy.
 

Lou

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I guess I should have said Flaxseed milk.

Here is how.
https://www.myhealthydessert.com/recipes/2-ingredients/make-flax-eggs-flax-milk-home/

I don't use the cocoa, but I use a couple of dates for sweetener. You might want to google "flaxseed milk". There are a dozen different recipes. the hardest part is finding flaxseeds in the store. I went to a few but I found it at Trader Joe's. I bet you can find it online. but then there is the packaging...

I just lined a strainer with cheesecloth.

and while I was looking that up I found this video. Some more good ideas here.


 

mavrick45

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I use handkerchiefs. They're not that gross as long as you wash them / just use one per day.

I fully recommend trying them out!
 
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Hey, I'm also trying out the zero-waste lifestyle too! Here are some ideas to help you out!

Bread: Bring a cloth reusable bag to your closest bakery or your grocery stores bakery and load up on carbs plastic free. Since you mentioned you don't have an oven, maybe try out some raw vegan recipes too? I have tried a couple of kinds of raw bread and honestly, they were pretty good.

Toilet Paper: There are ones rolled in a paper covering that's not plastic. (Tha's about all I have for this one)

Plant Milk, Pasta, Rice: If you don't have a zero-waste store, I would suggest a Bulk Barn or some other bulk food store. I have been only buying items that come in glass jars, then I reuse the jars for rice, lentils, and nuts.

Pen: There are some bamboo pens, like the bamboo toothbrushes, they are eco-friendly. You can get some funky looking pens too.

Hummus or other sauces: Get your self a good blender! It has saved me from buying ketchup, plant-based milk, coconut ice cream, hummus, tomato sauce, pesto, and the list goes on.

Hope this was able to help a bit :)
 

Lou

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I found some plastic "jars" at the Dollar store. Two for a dollar. They aren't too flimsy either so they ought to last a while. They hold a little over 2 cups. they even have markings for one and two cups. Screw on tops too.

I have been taking them to the grocery store and filling them up at the bulk food aisle. The first time I brought one the checker told me that she could weigh one empty and subtract the weight of it. So next time I brought an empty one and she weighted it (0.11 lbs). Since then I have made labels for the tops. that includes the name of the item, the weight of the container and the code for the bulk items. I have ten. I wish I had a few more. Peas, popcorn, pretzels, black beans, oatmeal, short grain brown rice, cashews, lentils, chickpeas, almond slivers.
 
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Meyersaurus

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Hey, I'm also trying out the zero-waste lifestyle too! Here are some ideas to help you out!

Bread: Bring a cloth reusable bag to your closest bakery or your grocery stores bakery and load up on carbs plastic free. Since you mentioned you don't have an oven, maybe try out some raw vegan recipes too? I have tried a couple of kinds of raw bread and honestly, they were pretty good.

Toilet Paper: There are ones rolled in a paper covering that's not plastic. (Tha's about all I have for this one)

Plant Milk, Pasta, Rice: If you don't have a zero-waste store, I would suggest a Bulk Barn or some other bulk food store. I have been only buying items that come in glass jars, then I reuse the jars for rice, lentils, and nuts.

Pen: There are some bamboo pens, like the bamboo toothbrushes, they are eco-friendly. You can get some funky looking pens too.

Hummus or other sauces: Get your self a good blender! It has saved me from buying ketchup, plant-based milk, coconut ice cream, hummus, tomato sauce, pesto, and the list goes on.

Hope this was able to help a bit :)
Thank you, those are some nice tips!:) What kind of raw bread recipes would you recommend? I have never heard of this before.
Do you currently have a replacement for tissue and toilet paper that are packaged in plastic? Do you think handkerchiefs would be a good alternative?
 
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Thank you, those are some nice tips!:) What kind of raw bread recipes would you recommend? I have never heard of this before.
Do you currently have a replacement for tissue and toilet paper that are packaged in plastic? Do you think handkerchiefs would be a good alternative?
No problem!

I like Deviliciously Raw, they have a bunch of really nice raw bread recipes. And if you are interested, check out my Pinterest Board for some other raw recipes. It's truly surprising what gourmet dishes you can make with just raw ingredients!

As for the tissue & toilet paper replacement, I don't really have one, other than trying to pick one that is eco-friendly. You can take a look at this Seventh Generation tissue, it seems to be a good brand! It's 100% recycled and unbleached. I also just try being more mindful of how much tissue I use and less wasteful. I used to use a tissue to remove my makeup, but now I use reusable cloth wipes (you can even cut a towel or cloth into little squares-boom, makeup wipes). Just little swaps here and there make all the difference! A handkerchief is also a great idea!
 
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mavrick45

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Thank you! Do you remember where you got them?
Shoot, it's been years since I bought my own. my family likes to give them to me as christmas presents. any large box store should carry them though if they have a menswear department
 
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Jamie in Chile

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You are on the right track. For food try and look for local markets or any places where things are sold loose. That can also include the veg/fruit section of supermarkets. Try and eat more of those foods. Take your own bag. For milk, I mostly just do without. Do you really need it?

Toilet paper I just use the regular stuff to be honest, try and use a bit more sparingly. I have been planning to get handkerchiefs at some point, but I haven't yet. Actually you seem to be a bit more advanced than me on zero waste, or at least you will be soon by the look of this article so I might not be able to give much advice. Good for you and keep it up and good luck.

I do a lot of the typical things like carrying cloth bags with me, bottle of water with me, bamboo toothpaste, hardly use toiletries. I even made my own toothpaste, but it didn't turn out that well all salty and weird. But I am not that deep into it so far.
 

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There are now brands of toilet paper that are wrapped in paper not plastic. Plus not all plastic looking wrap is now plastic. Some of it is actually a biodegradable cellulose type material (I've only glanced at an article mentioning it, on another food forum) . I think it was related to the Guardian newspaper moving away from plastic wrap for the supplements, perhaps list month or maybe January?

Toilet paper trends to be the smaller quantities 1 or 2 rolls but I have seen a recycled one that was 4 rolls. But just being mindful of how many sheets you actually need to use (3 or 4 for a number 1) is a good way of you don't want to go down the road of not actually using toilet paper at all.

handkerchiefs are the only sensible alternative to tissues . The last lot I purchased were this Christmas and I found them at a till in the men's department around things like ties, belts, socks and underpants etc. But men's handkerchiefs are much bigger than women's.

Bread, use a bakery not a supermarket bakery section (unless they have a counter where you can ask for a loaf and just get it put into whatever you feel happy with (there are options available to purchase. Look up onya bags online (include bags else you'll get a different site ) or go to Amazon or eBay unless you have an environmentally minded store available . (I'm lucky we do, but then Amazon had only just made it into Australia in anything other than digital form ).

Milk, it's really easy to make your own nut milksbut you need a bit of equipment first. 1 is a liquidiser that is high speed and capable . They're expensive the good ones, but worth it. 2, a good nut milk bag. These are finer than cheesecloths or tea towels but again are worth it and they are not expensive. The recipe is simply. Nuts soaked overnight (you don't have to limit yourself to one variety , experiment), a few dates to add sweetness, and water. Remember you can add more water to taste afterwards, but you can't remove it, so make it more creamy than you want and dilute it. Soak overnight, rinse, add water , add stoned dates , whiz in liquidiser until completely smooth, drain through nut milk bag, and dilute as required. Remember that you can now use the contents of the nut milk bag once dried as say almond meal of you used almonds to make almond milk . So there is no waste .

Consider investing in air tight containers to put things in instead of using clingfilm over a dish for use in the fridge or freezer. It will allow you to store leftovers and recycle the container accordingly . I've got stuff that's years old and I've now worries that it's plastic because my lot get used daily and as such we use very little clingfilm.

Pasta, if it's such an issue , make your own. It's really easy . 00 flour (usually labelled as such and in a paper bag), a tiny bit of salt, water and a little elbow grease to mix to a smooth dough. you can add flavourings such as chilli flakes, garlic, pepper and so on or just have it plain. It requires minimal handling , so only a little elbow grease is needed! Roll it flat , very flat, cut it up with a knife and you're done (except for cooking it). I make ravioli like this all the time. fresh pasta cooks in a minute or two in boiling water. Ravioli in 3-4 mins - less if the contents are hot going in .

Pens, the least wasteful I can come up with is to write revision notes and the likes in pencil and formal work in a fountain pen. It's what I did without thinking about it ,but then that is what my school insisted on (the fountain pen). I just preferred pencil so went with that in my notebooks and only did essays and exams in the fountain pen . You can get different colour ink, so having more than 1 can be useful .

Marg or equivalent I just don't use. I'll just have jam direct on my bread cutting out the calories and fat from the spread, plus the hydrogenated stuff that isn't great for you anyway .

Hummus can also go on directly, and if you don't like that , mash up quarter of an avocado and use that instead. The rest can be stored cut side down in an airtight container . Just trim off any darker/oxidised avocado when you use it .

A cheat for a hummus type spread is an avocado, a tin of chickpeas, a touch of tahini and lime juice . Mash it together with a fork. Add fresh coriander or parsley to taste etc. I add garlic or garlic powder for variation.
 

Meyersaurus

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ens, the least wasteful I can come up with is to write revision notes and the likes in pencil and formal work in a fountain pen. It's what I did without thinking about it ,but then that is what my school insisted on (the fountain pen). I just preferred pencil so went with that in my notebooks and only did essays and exams in the fountain pen . You can get different colour ink, so having more than 1 can be useful .
I have a fountain pen, too. However, the ink cartridges are always plastic, so I was wondering if there is a more sustainable option for that. Actually, I have heard of reusable ink cartridges but I have never come across one myself...
Anyway, for the rest: Thank you so much for those tips! I think I will just invest in a more expensive blender, I don't think mine is efficient enough to make milk, I think over the time you use the blender, the money will be worth it, right?
I found some handkerchiefs online, I might just order those, unless I find some in a store.

Thank you guys!
 

Lou

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I think I will just invest in a more expensive blender, I don't think mine is efficient enough to make milk, I think over the time you use the blender, the money will be worth it, right?
Thank you guys!
I make flaxseed milk and hempseed milk in my little $25 Rocket Blender. I haven't tried it yet but i bet I could make oat milk in it too. I think you can use a food processor for these too. But with a food processor or rocket blender, you would just be making a cup at a time. For quarts, you would need a really good blender.

I drink a lot of soymilk. and I've seen directions on how to make it at home. but there are several small appliances that are available to make soymilk (and other stuff) at home. I have thought about it but haven't gotten into the analysis of it yet. The thing that attracts me to these appliances is that they are automatic: set and forget. Making soy milk is noisy. so i think it would be cool to start up the device and then go do something else while it works. Sort of like an InstantPot for milk.

The crushing action of these things heat up whatever you got in them. So they also make soup. And nut milks too.

Buying another small appliance might not be the most effective way to reduce waste, but these things are supposed to pay for themselves pretty quickly.

Also the plant milks you make at home won't have any added vitamins or minerals. But they also won't have any added emulsifiers or thickening agents.

Here is one of the best on Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/SoyaJoy-G4-Maker-Stainless-Inside/dp/B00ALM5ZFM/ref=sr_1_1?hvadid=3527283890&hvbmt=be&hvdev=c&hvqmt=e&keywords=soyajoy+g4&qid=1553619202&s=gateway&sr=8-1
 
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Connie

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I have a fountain pen, too. However, the ink cartridges are always plastic, so I was wondering if there is a more sustainable option for that. Actually, I have heard of reusable ink cartridges but I have never come across one myself...
Anyway, for the rest: Thank you so much for those tips! I think I will just invest in a more expensive blender, I don't think mine is efficient enough to make milk, I think over the time you use the blender, the money will be worth it, right?
I found some handkerchiefs online, I might just order those, unless I find some in a store.

Thank you guys!
You can get a fountain pen that has its own refillable cartridge and you just purchase a glass pot of ink. They are harder to find but I know that they are still available.

Yes the high powered (and expensive) vitamix range is worth every penny. I used to have a much cheaper omniblend that could just about handle creaming soaked cashew nuts but the cream was always quite runny. It was always a fight with it to get smooth creamed cashews from it. It finally quit working about 2 years ago and for a year we managed. But we continually kept trying to use it, having to forgo certain recipes so after the 12 month experiment without anything even vaguely capable, we gave up and invested in one. The 10 year warranty gives you the reassure you need. I know me being vegan isn't going away because I've been vegetarian since high school (age 11) and now have a potentially fatal allergy to dairy proteins, so can only have nut/oat/... milks/creams/cheeses etc. There's no giving up the allergic reaction.
I use it for more than just making milk obviously. Creaming soaked nuts for either cream replacement or making cheeses had become so much easier. We were able to drop on one in a half price sale that one of the local department stores had 2 Christmases back. People often sell them so look around. I just don't think warranties are transferable. But it is worth every penny. The ease that it handles everything is reassuring and it will widen the range of things you can make considerably. When we were back in the UK ,it was often students selling things like vitamix and Excalibur dehydrators (we've one of those as well, it doubles as a warm oven for proofing sourdough and keeping/fermenting cheeses at a constant temperature during the colder months as well as its conventional dehydrator functions).
With the cheaper blender, when making milks or creams, the blender would clearly struggle and often walk off the counter if I left it alone (from the vibrations). It would also take an age to get anything smooth and both the contents and the blender would get really hot. With the vitamix, not only is it completely stable but it takes only seconds to make perfectly smooth milk or creams and the contents don't get hot unless you actually want them to (such as using the soup mode which makes very hot soup) .
 
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I use handkerchiefs instead of tissues.

The pasta/bread/rice issue can be solved by where you shop, but if you have nothing in your area, IDK.

My roommate made "vegan butter" out of aquafaba and coconut oil with salt and probably something else, I can get the recipe from her. Be warned, though, it tastes a lot like coconut oil.

I have gotten pens in the past with cardboard/heavy paper on the outside instead of the traditional plastic, but there's still plastic inside, and when they run out...they're gone.

Maybe investing in a refillable ink pen is the answer. Not saying I have, but it's a thought.
 
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Jamie in Chile

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Replacing pens with pencils is a good idea where appropriate.

The pencils eventually reduce in size and even disappear completely, meaning no waste at the end.
The material of a pencil does not seem to be as environmentally damaging as a pen (ink, plastic).
Pens are not going to get recycled because they are made up of too many different components.
Pencils can be made from reforested wood - there isn't really an equivalent concept for pencils.
Pencils also seem to last longer than pens, and don't really break or stop working.
Also, with pencils you can rub out what you write and use the same paper over and over again which I do so I have reduced my paper usage by about 80-90%.

There are so many reasons why it seems to be that pencils are just much better than pens environmentally speaking.

So instead of thinking about type of pen, replace usage with pencils.
 

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