The Zero Waste Home: A Rubbish-free Bedroom in 7 Easy Steps
Initially, I struggled with how to make my bedroom zero waste. So I sat on my bed and asked the question: “What in here could have a toll on the environment?” The more I looked around, the more I saw. Everything we own will eventually become waste. Maybe not now, but it will in the future. So how can we delay this process and when do we really have to produce waste? Can we make the bedroom more eco-friendly?
Think of the essentials: a bed, a bedside table, a dresser and a wardrobe. Keep what has a purpose and donate what you do not require. Excess furniture makes the room look crowded and attracts dust which means more cleaning – we would all be happy with less cleaning in our lives! When you need to buy furniture, check out second hand or antique stores and buy items that are made to last. If breakages do occur, then try to repair or upcycle. Get creative! An old door or scrap of wood can be upcycled into a stylish headboard; there are great ideas online for making beautiful headboards and upcycling.
Blankets may not be furniture per se, but most of us use them in the winter months. Luks Linen make beautiful, ethically made blankets and throws with a 20-year guarantee!
Many companies now produce organic and ethically made bedding. Green Fibres use organic, cotton made and sourced as locally as possible, ensure fair wages for all workers and try to minimise packaging. Little Green Sheep, targeted toward babies and children, ensure safe, sustainable and comfortable bedding for your little ones.
The majority of mattresses on the market are made from synthetic fibres and foam, which do not biodegrade and can be a recycling nightmare. When you buy a new mattress, think smart. There are numerous organic mattresses on the market, but like everything nowadays, they are not always as environmentally friendly as they seem. Even if they’re labelled “green”, investigate. Some green mattresses are still laced with chemicals, only just less than a standard mattress. Look for mattresses that are OEKO TEX standard 100. This is a voluntary certification that a product is free
from harmful substances and that the natural fibres present are organic and sustainable. Check out Abaca Organic and Vitalwood, which are made to high specifications and with natural fibres.
Consider buying a second hand lamp or ensure that it is made from natural or recycled materials. Go for LEDs (light emitting diode) bulbs; they are energy efficient, long-lasting and cheaper in the long run. They are also easier to dispose of and create less of an environmental impact. Nanoleaf in particular is great, with 3-year guarantees and cool designs. If not LEDs, compact fluorescent bulbs are also energy efficient and long-lasting. To recycle your lamps and bulbs check out Recolight.
5. Children’s Toys
Many children’s toys are made from cheap plastics and can easily break. This is terrible for the environment as certain plastics also leach chemicals. However, we all want our children to play and use their imaginations. Recently there has been a rise in the production of ethical and sustainable children’s toys. Babipur is a great website for toys and baby related products for the ethical thinking consumers. Sarah and Bendrix also have beautiful wooden toys that are made to last. Try to buy toys that will last and can be passed down through generations or through friends. Consider buying second hand storage containers/baskets made from natural materials to store your children’s toys.
Do we need all the clothes we own? We tend to wear the same clothes regularly and keep others in the wardrobe “just in case”. Textile waste is a massive environmental problem and our constant purchases of new fashion trends is just not sustainable. Check out these articles on reducing your wardrobe size and embracing the capsule wardrobe for more information on how you can curate a wardrobe that is unique to you.
Be sure to wear out and mend your clothes before thinking about getting rid of them. Sewing is simple and can increase the lifespan of your clothing. When your shoe soles and heels are worn, take them to a cobbler. Old, damaged clothes can be made into rags for cleaning and donate wearable unwanted items so someone else can give them a new life.
You can also donate your old bras! SmallsforAll is a Scottish charity sending underwear to African women and children in need, and they also help support the education of children in these countries. Against Breast Cancer also take unwanted bras and give them a new life in Togo, Ghana and Kenya where it is too expensive to produce bras locally.
When you do buy new clothes, look for ethical brands and clothes made from sustainably sourced, natural fibres. The Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) on fabrics ensures the textile is truly organic and ethically made. People Tree and Thought are good examples of this and are designed to last. Try to avoid buying cheap, disposable clothing. Fast fashion retailers often have terrible conditions for their workers, pay them poorly and do not care where their fabrics come from or their toll on the planet.
Man-made fibres release microfibers into our water system with every wash. To fight against this issue, Patagonia have teamed up with Guppy Friend to make a mesh bag and other companies are designing a filter for washing machines to prevent microfibers being released into the water. (Watch this space for more info!)
Wash synthetic clothes less frequently and for shorter washes to save the environment and your water usage. Front loading washing machines are better than top loaders; researchers suspect the central agitator in the top loaders are harsher on clothing and therefore cause an increase in the shedding of microfibers. Patagonia and The Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California wrote this report on their findings regarding microfibers.
For the actual washing (until The Guppy Bag is available), we can only do our best. Try using more ethical laundry detergents. I currently use Ecover Laundry powder; it comes in a cardboard box sans scoop (I use a jar as a scoop). Soapnuts are also an awesome idea. They are dried fruit shells that contain a natural soap and are compostable. You can reuse them up to four times. Just pop 5-7 of them in a washbag and then straight into your washing machine!
See what changes you can make in and around your bedroom. We are getting closer towards the zero waste home!
Other articles in this series:
11 Alternatives for Bathroom Essentials | 6 Ways to Reduce Office Waste