Starting Your Sustainable Journey
When beginning a sustainable journey, we all start somewhere… Scouring the internet in search of a start point? Watching your favourite influencers drop their die-hard favourite formulas for eco-friendly packaging? 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 beginner’s guide to living low-waste, with a little help from style and sustainability creator Bianca Foley.
It’s important to pinpoint why you are on this journey and what ‘sustainable’ means to you, 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?
Over to Bianca. “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, taking your cups and bags, then stick to it and celebrate that at the end of it.”
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 yearly and only 1 in 400 used coffee cups are recycled. Bagging that reusable bottle for your morning boost, 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! Pack up on plastic by popping your produce into a sustainable shopper.
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 comes down to quality over quantity. Invest in products made to last and put your pounds towards the planet by buying with brands that support the Earth for your sustainable household staples. As Bianca tells us, “It’s not about going out and buying sustainable products all the time, it’s about reducing waste and reducing consumption…which I think is 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 of your home to transform into a sustainable environment. Take a leaf from Bianca’s book: “If it’s your wardrobe, if it’s 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.”
Reuse, refill, recycle. The mantra for any budding eco-activist. Let’s take a look at building a green bathroom. “Bathroom essentials, like your toothpaste, can be changed, you can go for a more eco-friendly one. Georganics do an eco-friendly toothbrush. Tampons and sanitary products, period underwear brands are popping up left, right and centre. Instead of using cotton pads, get the reusable ones that go in the wash.” The average woman uses 1000 cotton pads per year, the bleaching process used to make them means they’re non-biodegradable. How about its reusable alternative? These last anywhere from 500 to 1000 washes, averaging at just 1 pad per year.
Ready to recycle? A beginner’s step you might not know: 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 your bathroom waste bin, most people don’t realise that the majority of our beauty and cleaning products aren’t recyclable, or the ones that are, aren’t cleaned out.”
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, ready to refill with a fiils all-natural formula, meaning no nasties down the drain. Bianca agrees: “Use fiils in your bathroom, it’s refillable and reduces your waste consumption!”
As for how to go green in the kitchen, let’s start with the obvious: swapping your 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 contributors to the 269,000 tonnes of plastic pollution in our oceans. Glass and plastic storage containers are a staple in sustainable kitchens. Take them down to your local refill stations for pasta, rice and grains to keep your cupboards and the oceans clean.
What is sustainable fashion? It’s all about re-wear, 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 a fast-fashion brand every single day, every week, every month.” 5% of the UK’s total annual carbon and water footprint comes from clothing consumption. The best way to reduce this? Ditch the throwaway culture and invest in staples wot wear all year round. Care for your clothes and shop second-hand websites and stores to give pre-loved pieces a second life. “People need to change their mindset when it comes to second-hand shopping. Second-hand doesn’t mean second best – it just means something else didn’t have to be made!” When it comes to washing, swap your detergents for natural, eco-friendly bleaches and products that care for your clothes and the climate.
Things to expect when starting an eco-conscious journey?
It’s a process and you’ll probably need come time to get into the swing of things. It takes time to find routines and products that work for you, don’t expect to become a zero-waste whizz overnight! “Be easy on yourself, it’s a journey, it’s not something your 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 takes a few weeks for your natural oils to balance and in the long run, it will lead to a healthier scalp and a happier planet. But how do you find companies that are eco-friendly?
Where to shop those first few 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, fiils offer a full range of refillable bathroom essentials, from aluminium bottles to pouches packed with natural, vegan and cruelty-free formulas. Once you’re ready to return your empties, pop your rinsed pouches in the post and we’ll take care of the rest, reusing our caps and recycling your waste!
Head to your local second-hand stores for a sustainable fashion fix. “A lot of them are heading online now which is fantastic, you can buy online 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 outside of your area as well. Vintage is another good way, and why not just shop from your friends?” 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!”
Wondering where to refill your kitchen containers? “Look up zero-waste shops, I try to buy no fruit and veg in plastic, I’m trying my best to go and refill certain items. Do the bulk of your shop there and then anything you can’t get in the zero-waste shop, hit the supermarket after.” Living a sustainable life is about waste reduction and finding solutions that are convenient enough to last in your current routine. If you don’t have a zero-waste store in your area to source sustainable food packaging, head online: “A lot of the zero-waste shops are starting to offer delivery now, so if there isn’t one in your area they will send it out to you if you do your shop online.”
Set to start 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. Looking for more on starting to live low waste? Head to our Instagram for a live discussion between fiils’ founder, Anna Priadka and style and sustainability content creator, Bianca Foley.