When embarking on a sustainable journey, we all start from scratch. Not sure how to put your pounds towards the planet and purchase the right products for you? You’ve come to the right place! At fiils, we’re here to make those first sustainable steps easy. Here’s your beginners guide to living low-waste, with a little help from style and sustainability content creator Bianca Foley.
It’s important to pinpoint why you’re on this journey and what ‘sustainable’ means to you. First step? Motivate yourself by setting achievable goals. Are you looking to reduce your single-use plastic waste? Refill instead of replace? Cut down on your consumption? It’s all about finding alternatives that work for you and Mother Nature.
Start with sustainable staples
Start simple. Saying no to single-use doesn’t mean a complete lifestyle change or filling your shelves with a mass of eco friendly products. Taking steps to reduce your waste can be as easy as slipping some staples into your bag. Let’s do a quick mental checklist before leaving the house… Keys, phone, reusables?
According to sustainability expert Bianca Foley: “Being prepared and being organised go hand in hand with living a sustainable lifestyle. If you’re going to tackle or commit to taking out certain things every single day, take your cups and bags, then stick to it and celebrate that at the end of it.”
If a stainless steel cup lasts for an average of 12 years, think about how many plastic bottles and coffee cups you’d save every year! Over 38 billion plastic water bottles end up in landfill annually, and only 1 in 400 used coffee cups are recycled. Bagging that reusable bottle for your morning boost also means a big pick me up for Mother Nature.
As for those one-off supermarket bags… We’ve all had that forgetful moment at the shops, realising we’ve left our bags at home. Instead of heading to the checkout with a guilty conscience, invest in a tote or net bag for everyday shopping and save on the one million plastic bags used every minute!
Let’s talk about tubs. This is a relatively simple swap, perfect for packed lunch lovers. As convenient as cling film can be, it’s important that we clamp down on using it, being a non-biodegradable material and tricky to recycle. Instead, partner with the planet and put your food in a reusable tub – collapsible silicone ones are easy to store and last for years!
It all comes down to quality over quantity. Invest in products made to last and put your pounds toward the planet by buying from brands that support the Earth for your sustainable house staples. As Bianca says, “It’s not about going out and buying sustainable products all the time; it’s about reducing waste and consumption… which I think it more my ethos.”
Choose an eco zone that works for you
Looking to take more of a ‘go green or go home’ approach? Kickstart your sustainability journey with a plastic-free punch by choosing one area in your home to transform into a sustainable environment. Take a leaf out of Bianca’s book, “If it’s your wardrobe, your food, the kitchen as a whole, start in these zones as I call them, commit to one zone, make those changes, do it well and then move onto the next one.”
Not sure where to start? We’ve narrowed down the three easiest places to build an eco haven… The kitchen, your wardrobe, and of course, the bathroom. “The bathroom and kitchen are the two biggest places that you can make swaps in to lean towards a more sustainable way of living.”
There are three magic words to summon the Sustainability Fairy Godmother: reuse, refill, recycle. The average person uses 1000 cotton pads per year; the bleaching process used to make them renders them non-biodegradable. How about a reusable alternative? These last anywhere from 500 to 1000 washes, averaging at just one pad a year. “Bathroom essentials, like your toothpaste, can be changed for a more eco-friendly option, Georganics do an eco-friendly toothbrush. Tampons and other sanitary products, period underwear brands popping up left, right and centre. Instead of using cotton pads, get the reusable ones that go in the wash,” says Bianca.
Ready to recycle?
A beginners step you might not know, is that in order to be recycled, packaging has to be cleaned out – so before you pop those plastics in the recycling bin, give them a rinse! Highlighted by Bianca: “A big thing is you bathroom waste bin; most people don’t realise that the majority of our beauty and cleaning products aren;t recyclable, and the ones that are often aren’t cleaned out.”
Now over to our favourites… refillables! Shampoo, conditioner and body wash bottles are all plastic pests for the planet. Reinvent your routine and feel clean with a long-lasting aluminium bottle! Refilling with a fiils all natural formula means not nasties down the drain, and Bianca agrees: “Use fiils in your bathroom; it’s refillable and reduces your waste consumption!”
As far as how to go green in the kitchen, let’s start with the obvious: swapping your paper roll for reusable cloths, cutting out clingfilm and freezing fresh food. But the biggest kitchen polluter? Packaging. Single-use food and beverage packaging is one of the largest contributers to the 269,000 tonnes of plastic pollution in our oceans. A great sustainable alternative is glass and plastic storage containers. Take them down to your local refill stations for pasta, rice and grains to keep your cupboards and the oceans clean.
On to sustainable fashion! It’s all about rewear, reuse and reduce. “It’s not just about buying expensive things, honestly I don’t think it’s achievable and it’s not attainable to every portion of society. I think if you are going to shop, it’s about buying what you know can last you. If you’re only able to buy from a fast fashion brand, then it’s about keeping those items and not buying from fast fashion brands every day, every week, every month.” Ditch the throwaway culture and invest in staples to wear all year round!
Another great way to shop sustainably? Caring for your clothes and shopping on second-hand websites and stores to give preloved pieces a second life. “People need to change their mindset when it comes to second-hand shopping; it doesn’t mean second best, it just means something new didn’t have to be made!”
When it comes to laundry, swap your detergent for natural, eco-friendly cleansers and products that care for your clothes and the climate.
Things to expect when starting an eco-conscious journey
Sustainability is a process. It takes time to find routines and products that work for you, so don’t expect to become a zero-waste whiz overnight! “Be easy on yourself, it’s a journey, it’s not something you can do overnight. I think people expect to be able to make the changes in seconds and it’s not as easy as that.”
Just as you need some time to adjust, so does your hair. When switching to natural products, it will take a few weeks for your natural oils to balance out. But in the long-run, it will lead to a healthier scalp and a happier planet.
Where to shop for those first sustainable swaps
“It’s about what’s around in your own area and shopping as locally as possible. If it’s easy, you can make that change!”
For your eco-conscious beauty fill, fiils offer a full range of refillable bathroom essentials, from reusable aluminium bottles to refill pouches packed with natural, vegan, cruelty-free formulas. Once you’re ready to return your empties, pop your pouches in the post and we’ll take care of the rest, reusing the metal caps and recycling your waste!
Another great option is to head to your local second hand stores and charity shops for a sustainable fashion fix. “A lot of them are heading online now which is fantastic, you can buy online now from most charity shops.” As for other places to source eco-friendly clothes? “You can do clothes swaps… it’s become kind of cool again! I’ve always loved charity shops, it’s good to know what’s available in and around your area as well. Vintage is another good way, and why not shop from your friends?”
Oh, and don’t forget greenwashing – we mean for your machine! Source a sustainable laundry detergent that gives your clothes a planet-friendly clean. “I use Smol, I also use Care and for my big items I buy the 5-litre ones from Faith in Nature – it’s much more eco-friendly!”
All set to begin your sustainable journey? The fiils blog is ready and waiting with all the eco info you need, from building a fully sustainable bathroom, to zero waste living tips and tricks.