I've recently (months ago) purchased some zero waste (almost) items at a zero-waste fair. I wanted to report back to you guys about my experience. I will break it down into areas and will keep you posted on any new items I purchase and try.
To replace single-use cling film and foil.
These are brilliant and can be used in so many different ways. Firstly, they stick, so it is easy to wrap cheese, vegetables, food in bowls, sandwiches etc. You wash them in cold water (otherwise the wax melts off) after use, dry and use again. I have both beeswax and vegan wax sets. I like that Rowen Stillwater ones come with a small cotton pouch which enables me to store the wraps neatly. I prefer the classic ones by Abeego because they are more sticky. For the vegan ones, I tend to use rubber bands that I have plenty of to close the wraps.
They last a year, however with a wax bar you can get online, they will last much longer.
https://knowtheorigin.com/collections/eating-and-drinking/products/copy-of-abeego-beeswax-wraps-variety-pack original £15 for a three-pack
https://www.plasticfreedom.co.uk/product-page/vegan-wax-wraps-x3-green-gingham-rowen-stillwater vegan £14 for a three-pack
If you are a DIY person, you can use cotton scraps, e.g. cut up old cotton t-shirts and use a beeswax bar to create your wraps.
Alternative: I understand that the 25 meters of cling film cost as little as £2.50, but it breaks, which makes it difficult to reuse. Even if you try to wash it, it tends to smell and well obviously pollutes the planet. You could avoid using it by utilising takeaway boxes, glass or plastic containers can cover things up with a small plate you may have or other packaging that could be reused and washed.
Bread/ vegetable cotton bag.
To replace paper and plastic packaging. It is useful if you go markets or even Tesco's to grab a croissant or a bread roll, you can avoid using their plastic bags.
I got these produce bags to do weekly shopping and to encourage myself to stop using paper bags. It didn't work as well as I wanted. The problem I encountered was that the bags are too heavy, so they add weight to the vegetables. There was a choice to put vegetables into paper bags, let the assistant weigh them and then put the stuff into my cotton bags. I found it way too time-consuming and slowing other people around me down. But paper bags get ruined in the fridge quite fast, which makes it hard to reuse them the following week. My current solution is to purchase everything using paper bags when needed, swap the bags at home and keep the paper bags for the next week. Do not get discouraged! There are awesome shops that enable you to weigh your bags first. I think the new bags sold on Know The Origin have weight indicated on them too!
I bought mesh and the standard produce bags. I wish I got more of the latter so that it could be used in more versatile ways (not just for vegetables, but for smaller grains). However, the mesh ones are still good for bread, loose pasta, dry beans, nuts etc. I would advise trying both, but do not get as excited as me since I got way too many. I would also suggest getting the bigger ones; they would fit more in therefore offer more flexibility than the small ones.
Alternative: You could use all the plastic bags, takeaway boxes, all those tote bags you've been given and never used and any other sacks and bags you may have instead.
Recycled Plastic Bag with a Velcro.
To replace plastic sandwich bags (that was the main purpose of me buying them).
I absolutely love this bag and use it weekly. I tend to put greasy food (doughnuts, sandwiches, etc.) and recently frozen berries. I found that frozen berries do leak in these bags, but the other foods tend to be totally fine. I love those bags because they are easy to wash like any other dishes instead of having to throw them in a washing machine.
Their weight is indicated on them. There is a small see-through window to be able to see what's inside or write a specification with a non-permanent marker pen. I have tried using up small plastic bags that I have, but washing them is difficult (mine stink afterwards too). You can reuse sandwich bags as well, but after a while, they start smelling as well, so I find these quite useful. Mine is Medium, and it's enough for a good supply of rice and berries or a lunch set with 2-3 sandwiches, crisps, and there is usually space left. They also come in charcoal and turquoise colours.
Loofah Plant Kitchen Sponge.
To replace a plastic kitchen sponge.
This one is a piece I am pleased with. I have been using the standard sponges, but they get broken down fast, and if bits of it get washed away, they end up in the ocean. The Loofah is more expensive, but it lasts much longer than the usual Tescos sponge. It slowly breaks down as you use it, but made of a plant it is biodegradable. It is a bit odd at the beginning. It expands into quite a big sponge. Using it may be a bit weird and different at first. If that's not your thing, you can get a sponge that has the edges that are clipped together.
The one I have
https://plentifulshop.co.uk/collections/cleaning/products/loofco-cleaning-pad £2.95 the clipped one
Otherwise for a more traditional look got for
https://www.plasticfreedom.co.uk/product-page/heavy-duty-unsponge-grey-rowen-stillwater I haven't tried it, but I think they will be fine and they are compostable.
Alternative: Could you potentially make the usual sponge last longer by creating a wrap for it out of an old sock or something like that? It would still be soft but might not break down as quickly.
Alternative to a plastic brush.
I treated myself to this one. I already have two plastic brushes, but they are not strong enough. Eco Coconut really surprised me. Now I'd love to get a scourer too. At first, I thought it might be way too harsh for the dishes. In reality, it removes the dirt easily, and because the bristles are dense, it's sturdier than the plastic brush. These Ecoconut scourers and brushes are made with sustainably farmed coconut husk's (the outside bit of a coconut).
The usual Tesco's brush can cost as little as £1, so if you have one, you could keep using it. It is probably more sustainable to keep the brushes you already have. I keep all mine to clean other surfaces, but I do not regret getting the coconut brush.
If you need more mops for the kitchen, use the old socks or worn-out t-shirts that you can cut up and use.