Time is flying by and we’re reach two month living plastic free, moving towards a zero waste lifestyle. I want to share with you our progress so far, how it has impacted our budget, and generally how it had made us feel. Because in the end that is the most important thing.
As you can imagine, it is impossible to have a completely zero waste home in just two months. We have to use up the things that we own that have plastic containers and slowly replace them with new options. It’s a process to change habits and one that we are more than willing and able to go through.
So what has it been like going plastic free?
Refreshing to say the least. Alex and I both feel the impact that we are making. Explaining it to others have been reassuring. Some have doubts that they could do the same. Others have a peaked interest in also trying to live more responsibly.
I spend the last week looking up biodynamic and organic wine for a friend of mine. It’s a project we are doing for a business he is opening and it felt refreshing to also align my side project with my personal goals and values.
Alex has even explained to his coworker, family, anyone with ears, what we are doing and why. Being able to express it makes it easier and more impactful.
What habits have we changed
Where we shop
We stopped buying from the supermarket. This was not a huge change for us as we were also buying from specialty stores before.
It feels nice to also support local businesses and small chains in exchange for big conglomerates.
We shop in more locations than we previously did, but it’s nice to get to experience some of the shop around us. We’re even become friends with the owners.
How we eat
If I had to pick a term to describe this family it would be healthy foodies. We love to eat, but we love to eat well.
We spent more time selecting fresh ingredients for our creations and experimenting to create new dishes.
Now we are eating more at home and really enjoying cooking. We did before, but this change of habits really awaken the hidden chefs inside us.
How we shop
We don’t leave the house without shopping bags, produce bags, containers or jars.
Our shopping has become more conscious and more purposeful. We think more about what we will buy instead of just doing a catch all shopping.
We still like to improvise. But now we also make sure we have the right tools with us to cover all our transportation needs.
At first I didn’t invest in any extra bags as I have many canvas shopping bags at home. But as we started to go to the bulk store and fruit & vegetable stands more often we needed something.
I bought these produce bags, but I also use some small canvas bags that we recently got a goody bags at a wedding.
Where we shop
Local bulk shops, butchers, bakeries, and specialty stores are our go-tos. Fortunately we live in a small neighborhood that is quite hip to the zero waste movement and we have many options.
In 30 minutes I can go to 6 different shops and get everything we need for the week.
If you’re in Barcelona check out these shops:
The beauty of living in Europe is the culture is already focused on fresh products from different shops. One stop shopping is not the norm.
We can even get beer and wine in bulk in many shops. There is no need to go above and beyond. You can really build it into your normal schedule.
What does our week’s shopping look like
I just finished this week’s shopping this morning. Here’s a look into my shopping trip:
- 10:15 – Molsa: 6x avocados, bag of mushrooms, 2x lemons, 2x heads of garlic, 10x packs of tissues, 1x chocolate bar, 1x calabacin, and 1 tube vegan toothpaste (19,00€)
- 10:30 – Agrícola Mau: 1x robles lettuce, 1x spinach, 2x asparagus, 1x mango, 2x raff tomato and 6x mandarins. (25,84€)
- 10:40 – Bon Vivant: 1x Costa Rican coffee (8€)
- 10:50 – Gra de Gracia: 1 jar peanut butter, bag of chocolate granola, and bag of sesame crackers (15,35€)
- 11:30 – Granja Armengol: 1x yogurt, roll of goat cheese, roll of cow cheese (13,36€)
- 11:35 – El Sarafeig: 1,5L bath wash, 750ml hand soap (18,19€)
- 11:40 – Al Gra: 2 cups of raw cashews, 2 cups of spicy cous-cous, jar of tea & honey mix (15,83€)
At home we already have chicken breast from the butcher across the street (10€) and some veggies, pasta, and other fixings from last weeks shopping trips.
So that’s about 125€ for a weeks worth of zero waste eating (with the toiletry products included). This is about the same that we were spending before changing our habits.
Changes in our kitchen
The biggest changes have been seen in our kitchen. Our fridge is now full of fresh fruit & veggies and our meat is in glass storage containers (and we buy it less frequently).
We are slowly replacing our spices for those bought in bulk stores. We have an overstock of glass bottles for storing dried goods and spices.
We don’t have any new processed foods. Nothing that comes from a plastic container. And very few that come in a box.
We no longer buy paper towels. We have replaced this will a roll of reusable napkins that stand up quite well in the wash.
Our recycling bins are getting little use and our organic is going out more frequently.
What kitchen swaps we made
- Foil has been replaced with silicone baking mat
- Dish drying sponge replaced with cloth dish mat
- Sponge replaced with a vegetable brush and a natural fiber scurbber
- Ziplock bags for reusable snack bags (We have these and these.)
- Plastic garbage bags to compostable garbage bags
Changes in our bathroom
Our bathroom is still a zero plastic / low waste work-in-progress. It is the place where we have the most long-term plastic products.
It is not our intention to create more waste by throwing out these products and replacing everything right away.
We’ll keep using them until the point that we not longer have a need for them. We’ll also keep reusing these bottles for our products bought from the bulk store or made at home.
What bathroom swaps we made
- Plastic toothbrushes for bamboo toothbrushes
- Liquid hand soap from supermarket for refillable liquid soap from bulk store
- Liquid bath soap from supermarket for bar soap and liquid soap from bulk store
- Colgate toothpaste for vegan toothpaste
What swaps we won’t make in the bathroom
There are a few key products we have choose to not make a switch. This is due to economic reasons, personal reason, and generally not going crazy trying to make a habit we cannot maintain.
- We have chosen to keep using regular toilet paper wrapped in plastic until we find a better solution. We buy the largest pack to have the largest impact and always have.
- We won’t yet switch our shampoo and conditioner. We have a few large bottles bought months ago on sale and they will last us a long time.
- I started laser hair removal a few years ago and have to finish the process. I use maybe 3 razors a year. I won’t be investing in a safety razor for this small need.
Changes in our dining room
The principal change in our dining room has been to move away from paper products. It’s the easier change that we had to make and it actually a stylish one.
Before I took advantage of stocking up on cute napkins from Tiger and Ikea when I had the chance. I like to entertain and I like the patterns, but it’s so wasteful.
Now we have linen napkins that we love and use until they need a wash. We made sure to invest in something that we like so that we will continue to use them.
Swaps we made in the dining room
- Wooden toothpicks for glass ones (found in an antique shop)
- Paper napkins to linen cloth napkins
The biggest change that I made in personal care is to stop using makeup. My skin is very prone to breakouts, so I like to cover up any spots.
I’m going to investigate some options for creating my own or buying vegan or other more organic makeup brands. There are a few store in our neighborhood to investigate.
I walk to work and Alex take his bike so we both have quite a low impact commute. I use the metro and take the motorbike with my climbing partner when we go to train 2-3 times per week.
And recently a coworker gave me a foldable bike that just needed some light repairs. I can’t believe that they just wanted to give it away, but I’m super fortunate to have it come my way!
Otherwise more of our transportation is public transportation, carpooling, or our two feet!
For now I will continue to use tampons. I have a stockpile in our bathroom and I would like to use it up before investing in a menstrual cup.
We will also continue to use condoms make from latex. 🙂 I would love to see a zero waste post on sex swaps.
Furniture & Household items
We currently live in a furnished apartment and have had no need to buy furniture or other items.
This is great because when we do buy our own place we can start from scratch with all sustainable products.
Any thing we buy from now forth will be sustainable and zero plastic. Check out this amazing company in Spain that is making new products from old skateboards.
So far our journey has been a good one. We’re going to continue on this path to making our home more green. I hope we were able to inspire you to also try to make positive changes in your habits.
It’s definitely not easy and not simple. But if you’re willing to put in the effort it will be worth it in the end.
Next up, we’ll do some spring cleaning and deal with our clothes. Repair what needs fixing, donate what we no longer want, and invest in what we really need.
If you liked this post, you’ll probably like these:
- Zero waste swaps for manageable new habits
- A greener kitchen: 5 easy and cheap switches
- Weekly Zero Waste Swaps