My greatest success in this area has being with toiletries, where I have mainly switched to solid products from Lush( which are sold without packaging-even the sunblock which came in a biodegradable film the first time), the only exceptions being my toothpaste (which I made from coconut oil, baking powder and peppermint oil), a tube of 2nd had body lotion I picked up in a charity shop (not sure that it is legal to sell that), a few things that haven't run out yet and just straight coconut oil that I am using as moisturiser, oil pulling and sometimes extra conditioning.
Drinking water hasn't been too much of a problem. with me mainly reusing plastic bottles that people left behind in my house, although they don't look very pretty after they have been used several times (see photo) I have only had to throw out one for getting smelly (I may have left several more behind places or had them cleaner away). Most of the time I have been able to refill them from tap water, but in non potable water areas I sometimes had to buy plastic bags of water or if I was lucky refill from returnable plastic vats of drinking water. Only twice did I get stuck and have to buy a plastic bottle.
Supermarket shopping was a big change, I took home zero carrier bags (just reusing ones from last year, or that people left behind in my house) switched to only eating fruit and vegetables that could be bought packaging free (in Colombia this was easy, but back in Ireland it means shopping in up to 7 different places and planning meals according to what you can buy) for other items I operate a minimum packaging policy, which means I never buy stuff that is double packaged, bulk buy if it means taking home less waste and am always on the look out for products that don't have any packaging at all!
With cleaning products I tried out baking soda and vinegar for the bathroom, but was not convinced (so may have cheated slightly by letting Ciarán buy a big thing of bathroom cleaner while I was away), I researched how to make my own dish soap, but it seemed complicated and involving chemicals that would probably come in packaging anyway so I decided the solid stuff we were using probably involved less packaging (maybe I should revisit this now that I am back in Ireland using liquid soap and dish washer tablets) and we had enough washing powder and everything else to last the first 6 months (again, I should probably look into this now I am back).
The big problem has been cafe's and restaurants, sometimes while ordering I have to point out that I don't want certain things like plastic spoons or sachets of sugar, or I have to ask what I am buying is served in or ask them to serve it in something special for me, then when they come to my table I have to stop them putting down things like napkins or hand them back things like complimentary (wrapped) chocolates. Sometimes I am just hungry and have no packing free options so just have to look for the least wasteful choice! Sometimes I carry a mug, a (plastic) glass and a spork with me, but sometimes I forget or I don't plan on eating out, so this has probably been the place where I have created the most waste this year, although I have cut it down an enormous amount on last year!
So that really sums up everything from the stuff you put in the bin point of view, if there is anything I didn't cover feel free to ask!
Check out part 3 to see how the no waste thing has escalated...