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  • Marie

Zero-waste tests

The frequent readers of OUTSIDE THE BOX have surely understood my growing interest in zero-waste, and 2018 has seen a lot of progress in our household:

  • We have improved our home recycling facilities: we are (almost) done with the Migros paper bags hanging in the hallway and finally got our IKEA bins that save space and surely make the experience more aesthetic;

  • We have used more glass containers than plastic ones (but we will still use the plastic ones until they are good to go);

  • We have drastically improved our management of food, by setting better weekly meal plans, by cooking with / or freezing left-overs, by preparing meals for office lunch, and by using our green bin systematically;

  • We have reduced the amount of plastic in our everyday shopping routines thanks to reusable cloth or paper bags. We are also looking at buying packaging-free items (fruits and veggies) and we are favouring quality over quantity (on a side-note we have also reduced our meat consumption);

  • I have stopped using cotton pads for make-up removal and instead invested in renewable cloth ones and it's been perfect so far;

  • We re-use and re-purpose packaging, cartons, papers handicraft activities instead of buying new plastic toys. This has been awesome and a fun journey for our son's imagination and motor skills;

  • Last but not least I have shared my complaints regarding paper waste with the local community during the cantonal and municipal elections.

As you can see the list is long, but I am not willing to stop now.

Options to live zero-waste in Zug are fairly limited, so I got especially excited when my colleague and I came across Ohne ("without" in German), a zero-waste shop a few minutes away from our office in Baden. Apart from a large section to buy in bulk, I was especially interested to try out some household items and finally provide my skepticism with practical answers.

This is what I bought:

- a bag of vegan gummybears and cola candies, that were so good I did not keep any to show as a proof.

- a coconut and shea butter hard shampoo (looking like a soap bar). I was at first very skeptical, mostly because my hair is now super-long and generally dry, so it has been hard to find an alternative to care creams and regular shampoos. I was however pleasantly surprised by the texture, foam, smell and final results after drying my hair, and I shall try other hair products of the same line in the future for sure.

- 2 Beewax covers from

Beewax wraps have been popping on my social media walls quite often (smart, smart algorithm...) and it was about time to give it a try.

First appealing thing: the designs and patterns. Flashy colours, stars, dots and flowers, the hipster in me fell for it instantly.

Then the sizes: available in small, medium and large (slightly bigger than an A4 page), you can find the one that suits your needs best. I went for the big ones, as I realized I was completely freestyling: better get something big to try for the first time, and look at smaller ones later if needed.

So far, so good, though our needs have been limited: we are too used to our plastic or glass containers to introduce a new packing system. And because we've been afraid of "contaminating" the wrap's smell to pack spring onions, so far it's been only used to store my morning pancakes until the next day.

One step at a time obviously, but I would not mind getting rid of the pastic clingfilm we still have.

- A bunch of toothpaste tablets

Let's be honest: I have no idea what goes in or who produced them. I was so focused on not messing up the packing of pills into the little glass jar using an overwhelmingly-big spoon that I did not read the sign explaining what I was going for.

The usage is not rocket-science: take a table in your mouth, crunch it between your teeth, and start brushing.

It's actually not bad at all, and the menthol flavour is great. The most confusing part however has been to manage the crunching itself without swallowing anything, like you would do with a mint candy for instance.

But apart from that, it's great. Not revolutionary either, but great, the kind of practice I would follow to further go zero-waste, not especially as a life-changing epiphany.

Bonus point: your spit is not blue, you do not have the impression to eat bubblegum, and your after-meal routines suddenly get brand-free.

Conclusions of these tests:

Zero-waste is not cheap, whether we talk about bulky food or hygienic products. I think Swiss prices do not make it easier, either. However price should not be a brake to good, sustainable practices. Most products are produced locally, they are organic, and promote long-lasting positive habits. A certain rational thinking is necessary to assess though what to buy or not.

In our case, we do have a lot of things at home, that have been carefully picked over time, and this is probably my biggest limitation to entirely change our household's consumption: I do not plan to throw away what we have for storage or cleaning for the sake of having good/better items at home.

For instance, as long as our plastic containers still work as planned, I will not put them in the bin for the sake of buying a new metal lunchbox. The same goes with the stocks of shampoos, toothbrushes/toothpaste, or cleaning products: let's first go down through the stocks before bringing new things onboard.

Food might also be the next step, but again, with some planning in mind: buying in bulk for the sake of buing in bulk is obviously counter-productive.

Except for the candies, maybe.

Except for the candies, surely.

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