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Sustainable living - Reuse, Reduce, Recycle!


I am sure you heard about the importance of waste and plastic reduction and environmental pollution in the past few years. That's no accident. Our planet is suffering from too much rubbish, and many of us using not too sustainable items.

"What is the reason we do not care?"

"Don't we know how to change things?"

"Is there is another alternative?"

I am not saying you should throw out everything you have at home made of plastic or change your life upside down by tomorrow. Also, I am not saying I am perfect in any way and have always done things flawlessly. I am not trying to blame anyone for their life choices or tell them what they should or shouldn't buy. I am also aware sometimes sustainable items are more pricey, and I am as upset about it as you are probably. I heard few times: "I can't afford to pay more for eco products".

I hear you!

However, I am discovering this journey too, and I want to share bits of knowledge with you after I went through lots of realisation, study and "try and fail".

With minor changes every day, we can be a little bit more aware of what we purchase, what kind of items we use, and how we live our lives more sustainably. If you are reading this article, I presume you are playing with the idea of changing some habits or seeing what options we have, so keep reading!

Where do you start?

Here I've listed few environment-friendly solutions you can instantly implement in your life, so you can adjust to more sustainable life choices, ethical fashion, eco-friendly products, or simply reducing our impact on climate change.

On the go

Carrier bags - how many plastic bags do you need for your shopping? Wouldn't it be nicer to have your reusable bags, which you can also wash sometimes? There are so many cute produce bags on the market, and one most significant advantage is that your produce won't suffocate and go rotten. You can leave them in there if you wish. I don't understand the plastic bag selection at the produce aisle. When you put potatoes into the bags for that 30 min, take them home and throw them out immediately. What is the point? Why can't we use our bags instead? I found a convenient bag collection that you can hang into your shopping cart. You can separate your items immediately during shopping or checkout if you don't use the handheld scanner - the produce, cleaning products, fruit&veg, fridge items can go straight into their bag.

Cups - study shows an average person drinks 3 cups of coffee a day. Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day. Can you guess how many of those ending up in landfills? Did you read about it yet? Why are these cups not fully recyclable? I would encourage you to do so! I know some places don't accept your mug due to Covid-19 restrictions, so it's a bit different momentarily. I usually prepare my drink when I go somewhere. I always have a small bottle of water with me, and for a long journey/day, I take my mug of tea or coffee. If you choose a good quality mug, you can enjoy a hot beverage even after several hours. I know it's not always possible, but you can make a massive impact by being mindful. I've learned this after my knee surgery when I had no choice. I wasn't able to drink and walk for many months. I could either sit down for a hot drink or take it away in my closable mug as I couldn't hold a takeaway cup walking with two crutches.


Toothbrush & Toothpaste - Does it need to be made of plastic? I love my bamboo toothbrushes, and you can recycle the head. When it comes to toothpaste, I tried Georganics tablets which come in a glass jar. It was bizarre to put a pill into my mouth and start chewing it for the first time, but it made some foam, and I could brush my teeth. As I expected, it was weird for the first time, but you can get used to it. There are also great eco dental floss options on the market. I am not a fan of electric toothbrushes; we gave it a try, but I didn't feel my teeth clean enough, and I couldn't care less to keep charging it.

Tongue scraper - Stainless steel! Don't you use it yet? Recommended doing so!

Cotton pads - I bought bamboo ones, and I love them for cleansing my face. The other great product I could recommend is the washable magic cloth which is kind to your skin and does the job perfectly! I have 3 of them and swapping them when they get dirty.

Shaving and hair removal creams - that's a massive one! I used up so many hair removal creams and not just created lots of rubbish but ruined my skin and wasted so much time and energy. I couldn't use these products as often as I wanted to; the same applies to waxing or shaving. I changed my plastic razors for a metal one, but I cut my skin more than a chef cuts his meat. So I looked into long term solutions, and this is how I considered laser removal. I know you think well that's expensive! It is. Try adding up the cost of razors/hair removal cream or salon visits if you get these done professionally. For me, the return of investment was around three years and a half, and I have never been happier considering this topic.

Soaps - I know this could be counterintuitive, and due to Covid-19, I did rethink this also. Thus we have two soap bars in our family bathroom and have one liquid soap in a glass holder for guests. I know it's not healthy to pick up the same soap someone washed their hands with before. I wouldn't do that now either in a public space. However, for the two of us at home, it's okay to have two bars, and for the guest, I fill up with soap I buy in bulk. Did you know there are many "zero waste" shops around where you can bring your container, fill it up with goods and pay? Try it; it's so much fun!!

Shampoo & Soaps - I tested few products in the past few years, and I love "Happy Soaps" thus I would highly recommend them. They are zero waste and natural, made locally in the Netherlands, so the CO2 footprint is as small as possible. They smell excellent, foam well, and I love the texture of my hair after using them. I bought a little bamboo holder for them, so they don't get soggy.

Sponge - Konjac 100% natural sponge from Happy Soaps also!

Body scrub - I love making my own! Easy, affordable, smells good, and the result is pleasing! I keep the grounded coffee beans, mix them with coconut oil, and add a few drops of my favourite essential oil. Voilá!


Paper towel - I don't think I need to explain this. Why should we use one or two squares of paper towels to dry our hands? Just use a washable towel instead. If you don't think it's clean enough, you know where your washing machine is, right? 😊 The only reason we have paper towels in our house is to pat dry our steak. I know we could allocate one kitchen cloth for this particular job; however, even if I would wash this cloth on 90celsius, I am not sure it's the best idea to dry off moisture or blood moreover if I think about the meat's perspective and the cleanliness of the cloth. Any proven practice is welcome here so that I can remove the paper towel from my home altogether!

Foil & cling film - I stopped using foil and cling film thoroughly after looking into the impact of aluminium foil on our environment. Many individuals accept that aluminium foil is good for our environment compared to plastic wrap material. Unluckily, this is not true.

Calculations indicate that aluminium foil is more harmful than a plastic wrap for energy from fossil fuel used, greenhouse gas productions, human health influences, and water toxicity. I've replaced aluminium foil with washable silicone baking sheets. Instead of cling film, I use beeswax and silicone lids.

Dishwashing soap bar - I stopped buying the usual dishwashing soap and changed for a soap bar. This soap bar is placed next to the kitchen sink, and I can rub my sponge or the scrubbing brush on it, and it does a fantastic job.

Cleaning items like brushes - did you know there are myriad options using scrubs and sponges that are not plastic? I have a cool wooden one with eco scrub. They might be a bit more expensive, but they live longer, and you can change their head frequently.

Food containers - I no longer buy plastic ones, but we still have some in the household. When I purchase a new one, I choose the glass ones. It lasts much longer, and for me, it doesn't smell of food after a few washing later as its plastic friends did.

Straws - I was never a big fan of straws; I thought I could drink as an adult from a cup. Okay, I know some people love their smoothies, and I get it. I bought stainless steel straws with a cute little brush, and that problem is solved.

Napkins - After living in the UK for 13 years, I fall in love with reusable, cotton or linen napkins. The high-quality napkins can last you years, and a one-time purchase will save you money in the long run. In addition, they absorb more liquid than paper napkins and looks infinitely more classy at your dinner parties. Did I mention you can make cool art with folding or use pretty napkin rings?

Tea - Loose tea! Type of tea? ANY tea!!

Produce - Even if you can't find items completely plastic-free, try purchasing them in bulk to somehow reduce the amount of waste. I get upset when I see items wrapped into plastic unnecessary, like one piece of aubergine wrapped up. Why? Don't you wash it before you consume it anyways? Or a melon wrapped up. Are you eating the outer skin also? Unfortunately, sometimes you need to purchase items in plastic; be mindful of how many times and if there is no other option. Once I thought, okay, but I want to eat strawberries! One of my friends has pointed out "pick your own fruit" gardens. When you do that in the summertime, you can also freeze them - especially berries, and you won't have tasteless berries throughout winter :)


Clothes and shoes - Fast fashion refers to brands that produce high volumes of clothing throughout the year. Brands are now making clothes at a fraction of the price they used to. As a result, consumers can update their wardrobes very quickly and affordably. Unfortunately, this over-consumption of cheaply-made clothes leads to the depletion of natural resources, the massive growth of textile waste and pollution. As a consumer, I have stopped supporting this industry with my purchase primarily because of the human rights violation with child slavery, workers being physically and sexually abused, and paying their labour well under the minimum wage. You can easily google which shops fall into this category I am talking about, but to mention just a few: Forever 21, Mango, PRIMARK, H&M, Boohoo and others. When I need a clothing item, I think about twice and rather but a better quality which lasts years and is easily variable.

Unwanted items - When you get bored of your clothes or don't fit, why not donate them to your local charity or shelters instead of throwing them out? Foster houses also appreciate kids clothes, toys or books! Remember: "One man's trash is another man's treasure."


Books - I think my second title could be "the librarian"; I love books. I collect them, I read them. I make notes of the biggest learnings. Unfortunately, as hard as I try, I am not a big fan of Kindle or Ebook; I love to smell, touch and see the actual book itself. Books are those very few items I do collect and am willing to sacrifice for them. When we moved, I instead sold kitchenware, shoes and clothes than my books. I only donated books I no longer wanted or wasn't interested in reading, i.e. a giant English-Hungarian dictionary or best places to visit in the UK!

However, I do my very best to buy used ones instead of brand new books. I don't mind if someone else has read it before me and it is still in immaculate condition. However, if you don't mind electronic books - Ebooks, Kindle, Audible will be your friends!

Note-taking - That reminds me of zero waste style working or taking notes. A few years back, I discovered reMarkable, and I love taking notes on that device. It gives you the real handwriting experience if you don't like typing notes on your laptop or are a "paper note fan" like me. Otherwise, use any of your electrical devices and move away from paper-based notebooks. Besides the environment-friendly advantage, this system also allows you to look back on your notes/studies you took years ago, and you can take them with you anywhere you go!

I also use "Keep" to make notes of items we need for our following shopping list, and we don't buy things we don't need, reducing the food waste.

There are millions of other options and best practices; these are only a few ideas I've wanted to share with you which I have discovered and implemented into our daily lives.

I hope you can take something away from this post, and you'll make more mindful, sustainable choices in your future.

Disclaimer: All images & content © 2021 Heidi Kalmar


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