Tag

zero waste

Ask Wendy

When Can I Call Myself “Zero-Waste”?

when can I call myself zero-waste

I’m starting off a new blog post format today – answering the questions I get asked via email and social media on the topic of sustainability. Let’s kick it off with this one. Got a question – email it to moralfibres@gmail.com and I’ll try my best to answer it here.

Dear Wendy,

I’ve been working hard over the last six months to eliminate single-use plastic from my life, and I’m wondering at what stage can I call myself zero-waste? Is it when I’m not producing any waste? I’m feeling disheartened by it, because I haven’t been able to cut out all single-use plastic, and some days I despair over the amount of plastic that has entered my life just while I’m going about my daily business; whilst zero-waste YouTubers make it look so effortless.

Anon, Darlington

Dear Anon,

Aah, the age-old when can I call myself zero-waste question.

I have many thoughts about zero-waste.

What despairs me the most about the zero-waste movement, as it stands at the moment, is that by in large it shifts responsibility from producers, manufacturers, and retailers to reduce their plastic packaging, or to shift away from single-use plastic.

Instead, the onus is on us consumers to become plastic-free super-consumers. Super consumers that have the time, money and ability to research and seek out plastic-free options; to travel further to buy food essentials; to often pay considerably more for a product than it’s plastic packaged counterpart; and then be able to make everything from scratch.

Fail at any of these points and there’s judgment abound. If you’ve spent any time on Instagram or in some (not all) of the plastic-free Facebook groups then that judgment can at times be pretty free-flowing.

The thing is 100% zero-waste living is not possible. Our society is currently set up in such a way that zero-waste could not become mainstream any time soon. There isn’t taxation in place to punish retailers who use plastic packaging; there aren’t widespread recycling facilities to efficiently recycle every bit of waste. Questions on how we make zero-waste affordable, inclusive and accessible for all haven’t been answered.

This is not to discourage – this is to say that because of this everyone’s version of zero-waste looks different. As an able-bodied white woman in her late 30’s, with two young kids, living semi-rurally with my partner, and an income that gives us enough to pay our bills but with not an awful lot leftover means our version of zero-waste looks different to, say, a childless single professional in their 20’s living in a city served by many zero-waste shops; or to a person in their 60’s living with a compromised immune system, who can’t shop in bulk shops because of contamination risk but still wants to minimise their waste.

Comparing oranges to apples isn’t helpful, nor are fleeting statements proclaiming “anyone can go zero-waste”, when zero-waste doesn’t have a universal meaning applicable to all, or an agreed goal – visual or otherwise.

Some might say, isn’t zero-waste being able to fit a year’s worth of rubbish into a glass jar? That visual, after all, is social media catnip. I would disagree – zero-waste absolutely goes beyond being able to fit a year’s worth of rubbish in a glass jar; or any other visible benchmark.

There’s all the stuff that doesn’t look good on visual dependent sites, such as YouTube or Instagram – the visually uninspiring stuff. The reusing a carrier bag until it falls to bits? That’s zero-waste. The using a clothes horse in a spare corner rather than using the tumble drier: that’s zero-waste.

My own visually uninspiring version of zero-waste is that as I write this post, I’m sitting at my desk with a hot water bottle on my lap because I’m the only one in the house and I don’t want to put the heating on just yet. I don’t see that making it to YouTube any time soon, but I’m saving gas and potentially making a larger carbon saving than driving for me what would be a 30-mile round trip to be able to buy some packaging free pasta. The message here: you do what you can.

My advice, Anon? This has all been quite a long-winded preamble to say that I would ditch the zero-waste label. I use these kinds of labels on the blog because they’re useful for people finding my blog and articles through search engines, but in daily life, I would say they’re unnecessary at best, and a hindrance at worst.

Instead, keep doing what you’re doing – it sounds amazing. That’s not to breed complacency though – do more where and if you can. If you’re looking for suggestions that go beyond a jar of waste, then some that are easier than others include voting for those with green policies; switching your financial products from those in invest in fossil fuels to those who invest in renewables; signing petitions; taking part in gentle activism (I liked this one from Girl Industries a few weeks ago); to sharing environmental articles with friends on Facebook.

Labels schmabels!

Health & Beauty, Life & Style

Plastic-Free Makeup Remover Tips, Techniques and Products

This post contains affiliate links

A little while ago I wrote about zero-wate and plastic-free makeup, but today let’s chat plastic-free makeup remover.  My tips, techniques and favourite products.  I use the word ‘products’ loosely – you’ll soon see why!   

Sometimes making a plastic-free swap involves swapping from something cheap and single-use to something that’s more durable, but in turn a lot more expensive.  This irks me because this means plastic-free swaps can be out of reach for many, but today we’re keeping things simple and accessible.  

Plastic-Free Makeup Remover Options

1. Soap & A Flannel

plastic-free-makeup-remover-ideas

Capitalism and consumerism have brainwashed us into believing that we need complex laboratory engineered solutions to simple things, such as removing makeup, when really we don’t. We need to push back against the expensive glossy marketing campaigns and embrace simpler solutions. And when it comes to taking off your makeup at the end of the day then, really soap, it’s where it’s at, I promise you.

I don’t wear a lot of makeup (not my skillset!) but I do wear some from time to time. Since my teens, I’ve always sworn by the fact that soap and a simple flannel ( or facecloth, washcloth, or whatever you want to call it) does the job at removing makeup superbly and I mostly would not use anything else.

I’m not fussy about which soap I use – I just use the same bar that I use to wash my hands and my body. If you have sensitive skin then you might want something extra gentle, but you do what works for you.

My facecloths aren’t fancy either, just your run of the mill ones I’ve had for years. Using a facecloth is slightly exfoliating, so you don’t even need to buy an exfoliator. Win! I then just pop these cloths in the wash once I’m done. Easy!

2. Natural Oils for Removing Makeup

Most of the time, for my needs, soap does the job. However, if I’ve used mascara then I often find I need a little something else to shift it. Particularly I find that I need something that can gently remove mascara without having to rub hard on my poor eyes. This is when I raid the kitchen cupboard for some natural oil. I promise I’ve not gone crazy – most natural oils do a great job at removing makeup.

Here are just some of them – some of which you probably have to hand in your kitchen cupboard:

Avocado oil

Coconut oil

Jojoba oil

Olive oil

Sweet Almond oil

Carbon footprint wise, if you’re in the UK then olive oil made in the EU (Spain, Italy or Greece are big producers of olive oil) probably has the lowest of the carbon footprints because it travels the least distance to get to us, compared to avocado, coconut or almonds which are all grown much further afield. Something to bear in mind that can’t be repeated enough – just because something is plastic-free doesn’t make it better if it has to travel thousands of miles to reach us – local is almost always better (even if it comes in plastic).

How do you remove makeup with oil? I find massaging in some oil with my fingers removes even the most stubborn of eye makeup.

I then run a flannel/facecloth under warm water, before wringing it out a little so it’s not soaking wet. Next, I place the warm flannel on my face, leaving it for a few seconds before I wipe the oil off with the flannel. I then dry my face and moisturise as usual.

If your skin feels too oily after using the oil, you can use rosewater in a glass bottle as a toner.

3. Solid Plastic-Free Makeup Remover Bars

zero waste plastic free makeup remover

If using oil from your kitchen as a plastic-free makeup remover doesn’t do it for you then Lush sell completely packaging-free solid makeup remover bars for around £5. These bars are still oily but aren’t as slippy to use as a glass bottle of oil in your bathroom. Safety first!

To use rub the bar in your hands to release the oils (or swipe it directly on to your face). Then rub the oil into your skin and then remove the oils with a wipe or flannel.

My lovely reusable makeup removal pads were kindly gifted to me by Helen Round, a Cornish maker. Helen and her team make the super-soft pads by hand in her Cornwall studio and are a great buy if you are looking to swap from single-use wipes or pads.

You can also make your own makeup removal pads using this free crochet pattern. If that’s too tricky (I can’t crochet either!) then if you (or a crafty friend) have an old towel (maybe one that’s got a few holes and you were thinking about binning) then you can cut it up into squares to make your own pads. You might want to hem the sides to prevent fraying.

If these options are out of reach then you can 100% just use a facecloth. Let’s not overcomplicate matters or make something simple inaccessible.

What about DIYing Makeup Remover?

I’m a big fan of DIYing – I love making my own products and messing around in my kitchen. For the last little while, I have tried making my own makeup remover solution with a range of different ingredients. In the end, I found nothing as simple, effective, low waste and as low cost at removing makeup as either soap or natural oil, which served as a good reminder to me that not everything has to be complex to work!

Do you have a good plastic-free makeup remover solution? Are you a soap or oil fan? Maybe not convinced to make the switch?