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In this post, I will share with you a wide variety of zero waste products and plastic free alternatives in the market today. Living a more eco-friendly life can be done effortlessly through some of these easy zero waste swaps.
Are you feeling bad about the amount of plastic you’ve been consuming lately? Are you bothered with the amount of waste entering our landfills? As a scuba diver, one of the major concerns I always have is the amount of plastic that is entering the ocean.
You’ve probably seen that viral video of the turtle with straw up its nose. Or maybe even come across plastic waste in your own dives.
If this bothers you and you do not know where to begin, keep on reading to learn more about zero waste lifestyle. You will also find a comprehensive list of easy zero waste swaps you can make to live a more sustainable and plastic free life.
What is Zero Waste?
Zero Waste is defined by Zero Waste International Alliance as:
Simply put, it is choosing products and resources that will have the least negative impact on our environment because of the way it was made, used, and disposed of.
Many people are finally realizing that their daily consumption can affect the planet. And going zero waste is one of the things you can do to protect it.
Why should you practice a zero waste lifestyle?
One of the goals of practicing zero waste lifestyle is making sure that nothing goes to the landfill or get thrown in incinerators. Nothing should ever be wasted.
For many divers like myself, a huge motivation is to keep waste from entering our oceans. Plastic pollution is one of the biggest problems our oceans are facing today.
It is estimated that 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean. That is on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that are already circulating our marine environments.
Those plastic pollute the water, destroy marine life habitats, and kill all plant and animal species. Our lives depend on our oceans and if we continue on with the unsustainable way of living, we are essentially destroying and killing that which gives us life.
In this day and age of consumerism, it is very difficult to rid ourselves of using plastic and other harmful materials. And most often, out of convenience and price, we still choose products that are most likely to have a negative effect on us and the environment.
To live waste free seems to be an impossible task but it doesn’t mean we should not try.
You might feel you can’t make a difference since you’re just one person out of 7.8 billion people on the planet.
But imagine if everyone thought that way.
That’s 7.8 billion people continuously destroying our planet even further. And would you really want to be part of that?
The truth is regardless of where you are from or the circumstances and environment you grew up in, you absolutely can make a difference. All of your choices and actions have an effect on the world.
Whether it is good or bad, that is simply up to you.
How can you practice zero waste living in 2021?
Many people are easily turned off or intimidated by the concept of going zero waste but it’s really not as difficult as it seems. You might even be practicing it already without realizing it.
After all, it is as easy as making better choices so that we can make this world a better place to live in. When we consciously think about the ways we consume and spend, we are one step closer to living a more sustainable and zero waste life.
When you choose a product you can reuse multiple times versus using a product made of single-use plastic, remember that that’s one less plastic going in our ocean.
Yes, it can be as simple as saying no to plastic and doing it consistently.
You are most likely familiar of the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. When you practice zero waste life you practice these three but also incorporate three other R’s into your lifestyle: Refuse, Repurpose Rot.
6 R’s of Zero Waste Lifestyle
Step 1: Refuse
The most basic rule for a zero waste life is refusing.
Of course, it is impossible to say no to everything as we do have our needs. But the next time you need to buy or use something, ask yourself if you really need it and if you can live your life without it.
The simple act of saying no to consuming something will change your life. Practice this process at home, at work, while shopping, or even while traveling and you’ll start to notice how earth-friendly you can be when you refuse something.
It’s okay to say no. In fact, it is encouraged!
Step 2: Reduce
Ask yourself: Do I really need this much? When was the last time I’ve used this? Does this improve the quality of my life?
Be wary of buying in bulk when you know you have no use for it. Watch out for companies that will encourage you to buy more than you really need. You might think you are saving up, but you could just end up being wasteful.
Simplify your life by getting rid of what no longer serves you and only using what you really need.
Step 3: Reuse
Reuse is when you use an item more than once. It is maximizing an item’s “life” by using it over and over again until it can no longer serve its purpose.
This step involves choosing alternatives that can last longer and can be used multiple times. Rather than using disposable items, make the switch by finding reusables or permanent solutions.
Sometimes your trash can be someone’s treasure. Reusing can be through other people. For instance, computers, books, furniture, and appliances can be donated to community centers. Clothing can be given to charity rather than throwing them out.
Step 4: Repurpose
Repurpose is the act of taking old items that you might throw away and finding a new use for them. Get the most of the materials you encounter by using them for other things.
This might need some creativity and ingenuity in your part but you’ll be surprised as to how many things you can give a second or third life to by repurposing.
Step 5: Rot
When you are consuming and buying something, you must think 5 steps ahead. How will you get rid of it and what happens when you get rid of it? Will it rot or decompose? Or will it be forever polluting our planet?
This is where composting comes in. When you allow something to rot, you cut down your waste, mainly food, and turn it into organic material. Compost can be added to soil to help plants grow.
Rotting will allow you to return what you took from the earth. Nothing is ever wasted.
Step 6: Recycle
Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials and making them into reusable materials or products. While recycling is good for the environment, we want this to be the last resort. Recycling also requires resources as well to create something new.
When you buy something, consider how it can and will be recycled. Just because a plastic bottle can be recycled it doesn’t mean it will be. For all you know, there might not be recycling programs or facilities in your own community.
Many of us don’t think beyond what happens when the garbage man collects our trash from our home. We’ve gotten used to the out of sight, out of mind mentality and the zero waste lifestyle reminds us that it shouldn’t be the case.
If you’re thinking of living a more eco-friendly and sustainable life and not sure where to begin, then look no further! This list of easy zero waste swaps will give you ideas on how you can use less plastic in your life.
Ultimate List of Easy Zero Waste Swaps and Plastic Free Alternatives
Majority of the items listed below are items that can be purchased in the USA as majority of my readers are from that location. However, I hope you find some inspiration from this list so you can slowly make the switch based on the zero waste products available in your area.
You can also get ideas on what the possibilities are when it comes to zero waste living. If the zero waste swaps are not available in your location yet, suggest them to your favorite sustainable store. Or better yet, maybe you can even come up with your own plastic free products that are even better than what exists today.
Plastic free alternatives for your bathroom
One of the easiest ways to start your zero waste journey is to start making eco-friendly swaps in your bathroom. Taking care of one’s hygiene is such a personal and daily habit that you can effortlessly make the switch without having to inconvenience anyone.
Nowadays, there are so many zero waste products that cater to personal care so having a zero waste bathroom shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve. Here are some plastic swaps you can make for your toiletries.
1. Zero Waste Soap
Choose a solid bar of soap versus using liquid soap that comes in a plastic bottle. Your local pharmacy or grocery should offer bar soap in box packaging. However, if you want to go even more earth-friendly, consider buying organic bath and body soap.
2. Zero Waste Shampoo and Conditioner
Choose shampoo and conditioner bars instead of hair care products in plastic bottles. These eco-friendly natural solid bars are zero waste swaps that save money and saves the planet. These can last you more than 50 washes depending on your hair thickness and length.
Some organic shampoo and conditioner bars come with tin containers, which are perfect for traveling. You need not worry about liquid spilling into your luggage and its compact design will save you baggage weight and space.
Shop Pack & Leaf on Amazon
If you prefer to still use liquid hair care products, you can check out Plaine Products for your Refillable Vegan Shampoo and Conditioner. Packaged in a 16oz reusable aluminum bottle, this easy plastic free swap is also organic, hypoallergenic, color-safe, baby-safe, biodegradable, and cruelty-free.
For more recommendations, check out my list of best zero waste shampoos and conditioners.
3. Zero Waste Deodorant
Another easy zero waste swap you can make is switching out your deodorant that comes in plastic tubes. The deodorant you might be using now not only comes in plastic packaging but may contain chemical ingredients that are not good for your body.
4. Zero Waste Lotion
Did you know that you can also buy lotion bars now? If you’re prone to dry skin and consume vast amounts of body lotion that come in plastic containers, you can use this plastic free swap instead.
5. Zero Waste Shaving Cream
Rather than using shaving cream from cans or plastic tubes, you can use organic shaving soap instead. Simply add a little water to your shaving soap and you can easily whip up a nice lather.
6. Zero Waste Razor
Another plastic free swap you can make is changing disposable plastic razors with razors you can use for life. Conventional plastic razors are almost always impossible to recycle and it ends up in our landfills and oceans.
Shave and save the planet by using eco-friendly and plastic free stainless steel safety razor. While these razors may cost more initially compared to the plastic versions, it will save you money in the long run since you only need to replace the blades as needed.
7. Zero Waste Toothbrush
It is recommended that you change your toothbrush every 3-4 months. Now multiply that number by your age. That is the estimated number of plastic toothbrushes you’ve thrown in a landfill somewhere. And all of those plastic toothbrushes still exist today.
So the next time you need to replace your toothbrush, consider buying a bamboo toothbrush for a more sustainable choice.
8. Zero Waste Toothpaste
Assuming you consume one tube of toothpaste in one year and you live until you’re 80, you would have thrown away 80 plastic tubes in your life time. That’s plastic tubes just sitting in landfills long after you’re dead.
For a more eco-friendly toothbrushing habit, you can easily swap to zero waste toothpaste in a glass bottle. Now, that’s something to smile about!
You can also DIY and make your own toothpaste using baking soda, coconut oil, and essential oils.
9. Zero Waste Floss
Daily flossing should be part of your dental routine. If the plastic in your floss is stopping you from cleaning between your teeth and gums then you no longer have an excuse as zero waste floss is now available.
Swap your regular plastic floss with this biodegradable alternative. Unlike the plastic floss containers you throw away once you run out of floss, you can also buy bamboo charcoal floss refills and use the glass container over and over again
10. Zero Waste Mouthwash
Does the amount of plastic you’ve been using leave a bad taste in your mouth? This zero waste mouthwash is a refreshing change to the plastic bottled mouthwash sitting on your bathroom sink today.
These natural mouthwash tablets are made with organic ingredients and no harsh chemicals. And of course, they’re plasic-free. A breathe of fresh air, don’t you think?
To use simply dissolve 1 tablet in 20ml of water, then gargle for at least 30 seconds and spit out without rinsing!
11. Coconut Oil
12. Reusable Facial Rounds
If using cotton balls or cotton pads is a huge part of your skin care routine, you should really consider swapping to reusable cotton rounds. You might be using cotton to clean your face, remove make up or apply toner and that’s going to be a lot of waste entering the landfills. Chances are you’re tossing at least one piece of cotton ball in the trash each day.
Organic reusable facial rounds are the zero waste solution to your disposable facial rounds or cotton balls. You can put them in your laundry to clean off any dirt and reuse them as many times as you can.
Instead of buying, you can even make this eco-friendly swap- DIY reusable cotton pads. You can easily make your own plastic free swap with a pair of scissors, a sewing kit,and an old cotton t-shirt.
15. Cotton Swabs
Instead of using cotton swabs with plastic stems, you can use biodegradable cotton swabs made from sustainably grown bamboo. Cotton swabs with cardboard stems also makes it easier for decomposition compared to plastic that can last for hundreds of years.
You can also check out LastSwab which is the only swab you’ll need for the rest of your life. This eco-friendly alternative to the Q-tip has been tested to last 1,000+ uses. It comes in a compact biodegradable corn-based carrying case.
14. Natural Bath Sponge
When you’re ready to replace your plastic exfoliating body scrub or foam sponges, go for a more natural approach- a loofah sponge made from a 100% natural loofah plant.
This natural sponge is a great add on to your zero waste skincare routine. You can use the sponge for 6-8 months and when you’re done using it, the loofah sponge is compostable.
You can also get a soap saver bag. Made of sustainable sisal, a 100% natural fiber that comes from the agave cactus family, the natural soap bag is great for exfoliating and massaging your head, hands, and body. It perfect for an entire bar of soap or all those little bits and pieces of soap leftovers so nothing is ever wasted.
15. Plastic Free Toilet Paper
Did you know that 16 Million trees are literally flushed down the toilet every year in the form of toilet paper?! That’s pretty shitty, if you ask me! With these bamboo toilet paper, you can wipe your bum guilt-free. Bamboo is a fast-growing grass so you can be assured that no tree was harmed in the process. This low waste swap is surely the Betterway!
Shop bamboo toilet paper on Amazon
Some people also suggest using toilet wipes as a reusable option. To be honest, I am not completely sold on this but it is still a plastic free swap worth considering. I would suggest cleaning yourself first using a tabo or bidet water sprayer and then use the toilet wipes to dry yourself.
If you were one of those people who hoarded toilet paper in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, most likely you hoarded plastic too. So, the next time you need to panic buy toilet paper, don’t be an ass. Please consider any of these zero waste products instead!
16. Menstrual Cup
For a zero waste period, I highly recommend replacing your tampons or pads with a menstrual cup.
Made from 100% medical-grade silicone that is BPA free and chemical free, a menstrual cup is worn internally to collect your period rather than absorb the blood.
While they’re made of silicone plastic, menstrual cups are still a better and more eco-friendly alternative to other menstrual products. Unlike tampons and sanitary pads that produce so much waste when it’s your time of the month, menstrual cups will reduce the amount of waste you send to landfills to practically zero each time you get your period.
On average a woman on her cycle will use about 20 tampons. Multiply that with 12 cycles in a year and that’s roughly 240 tampons going in our landfills. On the other hand, menstrual cups may last you years without replacing. The only time you might need to throw them out is if it tears or rips- which are easily preventable.
Now, let’s assume that one tampon is $0.35 each. Easily, a woman will spend $84 a year on tampons alone. Saalt silicone menstrual cups less than that! No doubt, this zero waste swap can save you money too!
17. Reusable Sanitary Pads
Ever think of what women did before disposable sanitary pads were available? Well, most women used rags, cotton, or sheep’s wool in their underwear.
While I don’t suggest you start using sheep’s wool down there, I would recommend using reusable cloth pads instead. If you’re not comfortable using menstrual cups, this zero waste alternative might be best for you. You can also use reusable sanitary liners during your lighter flow.
Many of the disposable sanitary pads in the market today are made of mostly plastic. Not only is it bad for the environment but it can be bad for you too. It restricts airflow and traps heat and can potentially be a breeding ground for yeast and bacteria in your vaginal area. Disposable menstrual pads may also contain harsh ingredients such as odor neutralizers and fragrances that may irritate your sensitive skin.
Many people who have made the switch to reusable menstrual pads claim that this was one money-saving zero waste swap they were happy to make. They come in cute designs and colors too, which is just bloody awesome!
For more ideas on eco-friendly swaps you can make while you’re menstruating, check out my post on zero waste periods.
18. Sustainable Hair Brush / Comb
While you might not need to replace your hair brush or comb often, should there be a need to replace the plastic ones you currently, use you can opt to use a brush or comb made of wood.
Gently detangle your locks with this lightweight wooden hairbrush. This bamboo hairbrush with natural rubber cushioning and smooth bamboo bristles will gently massage your scalp in the most relaxing manner.
Easily get rid of tangles with this wide-tooth combed. Crafted masterfully, this all-natural wooden hair comb is made with oiled olive wood.
At the end of their lives, you can compost and return back to the earth what you’ve taken. These zero waste products will allow you to take care of your hair while taking care of our planet.
For more recommendations, check out this post on the best eco-friendly hair brushes and combs.
19. Plastic Free Hair Ties
As someone who has lived with long hair my entire life, I can’t even imagine the number of hair ties I’ve lost. It’s one of those things we don’t really think about but just imagine all those non-biodegradeable plastic ties floating in our oceans.
With these biodegradeable hair ties, if you lose one (hopefully you don’t!), you can feel better knowing they will eventually decompose. They’re made from organic cotton and natural rubber so they’re 100% plastic free. If put into the compost the hair tie can completely biodegrade in seven years.
20. Plastic Free Bandaids
Prone to getting cuts and scrapes? Stock your zero waste toiletry kit with plastic free bandages!
These natural bamboo bandages are made from 100% organic and natural bamboo fiber with a mineral-based pressure-sensitive adhesive. It is also hypoallergenic, latex-free, vegan-friendly, and cruelty-free, and is suitable for sensitive skin types.
Unlike your typical bandaid made of plastic material, this bandage is compostable and biodegradable at the end of its life. So not only do you get to heal your wound, you also heal the planet!
Easy zero waste swaps in the kitchen
Since you cook (maybe) and eat every day, making some easy swaps for a zero waste kitchen is something you should do. The kitchen is one of the places in our home where there is so much waste.
From the moment we step in a grocery store or market, plastic is every where. We buy goods in plastic. We take home that plastic. Put food in plastic. Then throw away plastic.
You can reduce the amount of waste you produce significantly by using sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives in your kitchen. Here are some suggestions on some swaps you can make to eliminate the rubbish that you make in your kitchen.
21. Zero waste grocery shopping bags
One of the easiest zero waste changes you can do is taking your own reusable grocery bag with you when you go shopping. Wouldn’t it be great if the next time you buy grocery, instead of choosing paper or plastic, you can proudly say you don’t need either one? Bringing your own eco bag is an absolute zero waste essential.
Bring reusable mesh produce bags to the grocery store so you don’t have to put produce in plastic bags ever again. These mesh bags even have a tag that includes the bag’s tare weight so you get charged accurately every time you weight your items. When you buy your fruits and vegetables bring them home in your zero waste market kit.
22. Reusable Food Containers
If you have access to zero packaging bulk stores, you can refill your glass jars and bottles with your basic supplies. This will drastically reduce your waste.
It will save you money because you buy only what you need and you do not have to pay for all the extras like cost of packaging and branding. Remember that you need not buy new glass containers, you could reuse glass bottle and jars you might already have.
Shop Glass Food Storage Containers on Amazon
If you’re into meal preps or have the habit of storing food in your fridge, rather than use Tupperware or microwaveable plastic, consider using containers made of glass instead. Unlike plastic, they won’t absorb stains or smells, so you won’t be forced to throw them out. You also won’t have to worry about chemicals leeching into your food. Glass containers will last longer than their plastic counterparts.
23. Reusable Silicon Bags
Feeling guilty for throwing single-use plastic baggies or zip bags every day? You should switch to Stasher silicone bags– a reusable, washable, and sustainable alternative. Made from non-toxic, BPA free pure platinum silicone, you can use these silicone bags to store food in your freezer, in the pantry or on the go. You can use it in your microwave, oven, dishwasher, and even a sous vide. With an air-tight pinch-lock seal, these low waste, multipurpose silicone bags have endless uses in your kitchen.
Shop Stasher on Amazon
24. Beeswax Food Wrap
The reusable beeswax food wraps are a must for your waste free kitchen. This will prevent you from using single-use plastic wraps or tinfoil which is super wasteful. It can be used on anything from produce to snacks. You can even use it to cover containers, bowls, and more. Use the warmth of your hands to gently mold the wrap to any shape. When you’re done, just wash the wrap in cool water and let it dry.
25. Zero Waste Coffee Swaps
If you’re one of those people who cannot last a day without a good cup of coffee then you should consider using reusable coffee filters. Every time you brew a pot that’s one single-use paper filter that enters the landfill. If you brew every day that’s 365 filters in a year! Reusable coffee filters will not only save trees but will cut down your waste significantly. This is a low waste swap any coffee addict would want in the kitchen.
More than 20 years ago, single-use coffee pods from brands like Nespresso, was introduced to the market and paved the way for billions of non-biodegradable coffee capsules entering the landfill and waterways. If you’re an eco-conscious coffee drinker and own one of these machines, you can substitute your plastic capsules with a stainless steel refillable coffee pod. Brew your favorite coffee grounds and reduce your waste each time you use your single-serve coffee machines.
Shop Nespresso refillable coffee pods on Amazon
Now, if you can’t give up your Keurig machine just yet, consider swapping out your plastic coffee pods with 100% compostable and biodegradable Keurig-compatible coffee pods. You can get these biodegradable coffee pods from Tayst, an earth-friendly coffee company.
Another way to have zero waste coffee is by using a French press. Any coffee connoisseur would love this waste free product. Simply add your favorite ground coffee, hot water and press. Your coffee will be ready within 4 minutes without having to use coffee filters or coffee plastic capsules. Enjoy every cup knowing you used less plastic today.
Shop Bodum French Press Coffee Maker on Amazon
26. Zero Waste Tea Swaps
While I drink more coffee than tea, I knew I had to include some alternatives for the tea lovers out there. I discovered that you can actually swap out your tea bags with other eco-friendly options.
Most teabags in the market today are discarded after each use and are not even completely compostable. So if you’re a heavy tea drinker you should change the way you make your tea.
You can check out your local bulk or zero waste store for loose tea leaf supplies. And there are many companies that offer loose leaf tea with unique flavors and health benefits.
For those obsessed with tea, you can also check out Simple Loose Leaf Tea, a tea subscription service that will allow you to try different tea blends from around the world. A box includes 4 varieties of high-quality blends and reusable tea bags. They also have special tea blends hand packaged in recyclable containers.
Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf Tea.
I also discovered a family-owned company called Woodland Herbal that sells natural loose leaf teas. They grow and forage a lot of their own herbs, and they commit to planting a tree for every product sold. I thought that was tea-riffic!
27. Unpaper Towels
Stop using single-use paper towels with the organic cotton unpaper towels. Made from 100% unbleached organic cotton, these unpaper towels are durable and absorbent. This easy zero waste swap is perfect for quick cleanups or tough messes in the kitchen.
28. Zero Waste Dish Soap
Swap your liquid dish soap with a zero waste dish soap bar. Each block weighs 5.9 oz and it will easily last 2-3 months. You can use it to clean your dishes but this soap is multi-purpose as well. It can be used to wash off carpet stains, clean your kitchen counters, and many more. This vegan soap block not only comes in plastic free packaging but is also organic. You can
happily wash your dishes knowing no harmful chemicals and plastic are going down the drain and entering the oceans.
29. Zero Waste Dish Brushes
Made from loofah plants, these 100% biodegradable loofah dish sponges replace traditional foam and plastic sponges for dishwashing. Since you need to replace your sponges often this is one easy zero waste swap you should make.
You can also use these coconut bristle brushes to clean your plates, glasses, bottles, pots, and pans.
30. Plastic Free Dishwasher Detergent Pods
Did you know that traditional liquid dishwasher detergent pods are usually packaged in high density polyethylene plastic containers. 68% of these are not recycled. This contributes to tons of plastic waste that goes into our oceans and waterways yearly! If you still prefer to use a dishwasher, ditch your wasteful plastic-based pods and make the sustainable switch to Dropps’ dishwasher detergent pods. It is 100% plastic-free, compatible with all dishwashing machine types, and contains no artificial colors, synthetic fragrances, or dyes.
Zero waste laundry and cleaning swaps
With all the reusable items you need to wash, here are some zero waste substitutes you can use for your home.
31. Zero Waste Laundry Detergents
When I heard of these eco-friendly laundry soaps, I thought it was nuts! Well, they are! Soap nuts are actually dried berries from trees in the Himalayas. When agitated in water, they release a natural cleansing agent called saponin, which also acts as a fabric softener. This natural laundry detergent is great for sensitive skin since it is free of chemicals or additives. Simply place 4-5 soap nuts in the provided cloth bag and toss it in the washer. Berries can be reused up to 10 times and will leave you clothes fresh and clean. Don’t believe it? Go nuts and try it out for yourself!
Made with highly concentrated, all natural ingredients like baking soda, pH boosting washing soda, and skin softening coconut oil, this eco-friendly laundry powder easily removes stains and stink while leaving clothes soft and clean. You can recycle or reuse stainless steel canister it comes in for a zero waste laundry experience.
Tide Pod Challenge was so 2018! Time to ditch this harmful trend of using plastic-based pods. 2021 is the year to make the plastic free switch to stain and odor laundry detergent pods from Dropps. These pods are 100% plastic-free, compatible with all washing machine types, and contains no artificial colors, synthetic fragrances, or dyes. This is the newest pod challenge you should join for a zero waste laundry.
Traditional laundry detergent can be messy and wasteful. With Tru Earth eco laundry strips, you just need 1 strip for each laundry load. The laundry detergent strip weighs just 3g but packs the same power as a 40g liquid or powdered detergents. It is estimated that Tru Earth’s zero waste, compostable, compact, and plastic-free packaging reduces transportation fuel consumption and global-warming carbon emissions by 94% compared to the leading laundry detergent brands in the market today.
32. Wool Dryer Balls
Replace your dryer sheets, liquid fabric softeners with wool dryer balls. These eco-friendly alternative is made from 100% New Zealand sheep’s wool. Just throw these in your drier together with clean laundry and it will soften them naturally without chemicals. It also helps shorten dry time so it saves you money, time and energy. Wool dryer balls can be used to up to 1000 loads or more which means less waste for you.
Shop wool dryer balls on Amazon
33. Natural Laundry Stain Stick
Instead of relying on a chemical-laden spot-stick that comes in plastic packaging, use this all-natural laundry stain stick to get rid of those tough stains on your favorite white shirt. Simply wet the laundry stick and gently rub it on the stained area. After 10 minutes, wash your clothing as normal to let the stains disappear.
34. Refillable Glass Spray bottles
35. Zero Waste Cleaning Refills
Cleaning agents in the market today are most likely 90% water and packaged in plastic. This means that you are buying water to be shipped to you. This is costly to you and the environment as it requires more packaging, storage, and distribution.
They came up with concentrated cleaning refills that you can just drop in water to create your cleaning mixture. Ocean Saver has Power Cleaning EcoDrops that are plant-based refills, while Blueland has Cleaning Tablets. Both concentrates easily dissolve in water so you can spritz and clean away. These are arguably one of the zero waste swaps that save money and the planet.
Using less plastic while traveling or on the go
Zero waste living should extend to all aspects of your life and not just your home. When you go out with your family and friends, or travel for work and pleasure, you will still produce waste and consume single-use plastics. Sometimes you’ll even produce more trash than usual. And this why you should put more effort into using less plastic when you are on the go.
When you are out and about, outside the comforts of your zero waste home, your choices may be limited to what is available and offered to you by others. In some cases, you might feel like you didn’t have a choice or you feel guilty for making a “bad” choice.
Unfortunately, not everyone will care about the environment but if you do, then you should come prepared. Empower yourself by thinking ahead of how you consume outside your home.
If you’re traveling or going to a place where you will most likely encounter single-use plastic, you might want to consider putting together your own zero waste travel kit. Travel more sustainably by packing these zero waste products.
36. Reusable Water Bottle
Single-use plastic bottles are one of the worst pollutants on our planet. In Ocean Conservancy’s annual beach cleanups, it’s been reported that plastic bottles and bottle caps rank as the third and fourth most collected plastic trash items. It is estimated that every minute about 1,000,000 plastic bottles are sold all around the world.
Help reduce these staggering plastic statistics by taking your own reusable water bottle wherever you go.
Shop Simple Modern insulated water bottles on Amazon
Shop Human Health stainless steel insulated water bottles on Amazon
Shop Hydro Flask water bottle on Amazon
Switching to a reusable bottle is one of the easiest zero waste swaps you can make in your life. It will save you money since you will spend less buying beverages. And it is good for your health too as a reminder to keep hydrated wherever you may be.
This was one of the first plastic swaps I made and it has improved the way I live and travel.
37. Travel Mug
Despite having my own water bottle with me while traveling, I like to indulge and enjoy beverages like coffee, milk tea, and juices. I usually request my drinks to be placed in glass or mug instead of plastic cups for when I dine in, but naturally, this is not possible for when I’m on the go.
If you want to lessen your single-use plastic cup consumption, then take your own reusable cup with you. If you’re a heavy Starbuck’s drinker, you might want to bring your own travel coffee mug or tumbler to minimize your plastic waste. They might even give you a discount for bringing your own cup! Enjoy your favorite beverage on the go with this low waste swap.
38. Reusable Straw
Another major ocean pollutant are plastic straws. These nasty plastic tubes pose a real danger to sea creatures that can ingest them. Ideally, the best thing to do is to skip the straw but of course this isn’t always the case.
Maybe you need one for health reasons, for convenience or simply to enjoy your favorite smoothie. Whatever the case may be, if you find yourself always needing one then consider getting a reusable straw.
I carry a metal straw with me because I might need one while traveling or eating out. But nowadays aside from metal straws, you can get glass straws, reusable silicon straws, and even bamboo straws. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s the last straw!
39. Reusable Cutlery
Plastic cutlery is one of my biggest pet peeves as well. Fast food chains most especially love throwing in a handful of these in every order and once you’re done eating, you end up throwing them away. While it is convenient, this is another single-use plastic you should avoid.
I’ve long made the switch by refusing plastic spoons and forks every time I eat out or when I’m traveling. You can do this too by taking your own set of cutlery with you. By having your own set of reusable spoons, forks and maybe even chopsticks you can say no to disposable cutlery anytime.
Check your home if you have some extra cutlery you can just take with you. But if you do need to buy you can find bamboo cutlery which can decompose at the end of its life, or metal cutlery sets which can last forever.
Trust me when I say that each meal becomes more enjoyable when you know you have used less plastic with every bite.
40. Reusable Food Containers
Most restaurants pack their food in plastic containers and styrofoam boxes. If you love buying take away food, ask the restaurant or cafe to pack your meal in your own reusable container. Most establishments would not mind such requests as this also saves them money.
Reusable food containers also come in handy for when you are have leftovers. There is no need to ask for a doggie bag. Just use your food container so you can bring home the extra food rather than throwing it away. You can get collapsible silicone food storage containers so it’s easy to store in your purse and take it out when needed.
Shop Collapsible silicone food storage containers on Amazon
Shop Stainless Steel Bento Box on Amazon
Another practical use for these reusable food containers is for bringing your own packed meal to school, work, or just a day out in the sun. You can pack an entire healthy meal in a reuseable lunchbox or take your favorite snacks with you in reusable silicone snack bags. You can reduce your expenses and trash significantly by bringing your own food and snacks in reusable containers.
41. Shopping Bags
If you don’t enjoy online shopping and like heading to shops to do your actual shopping, then never leave home without your reusable shopping bags. There was a time when you go to the mall and each shop you buy from would give you a plastic bag for your purchase. Thankfully, now, more stores are okay if you decline their brand packaging and just take the merchandise with you plastic free.
You can get reusable bags almost everywhere nowadays. But if you’re on the look out for one, this reusable shopping bag from ChicoBag is made with Repreve, a certified form of recycled PET fabric. It can be folded and stored in a small integrated pocket so it doesn’t take up too much space in your purse or backpack. This will look cuter on your shoulders instead of all that plastic guilt you’ve been carrying on yours.
42. Zero Waste Sunscreen
Many sunscreen brands while it offers protection from the sun, comes in plastic containers. They also may contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment. Protect your skin and the ocean by switching to a plastic-free, reef-safe sunscreen.
Badger’s Clear Zinc Sunscreen will give you SPF 40 broad spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays when you’re out having fun under the sun. Certified natural and non-toxic, this reef-friendly sunscreen can provide up to 80 minutes of water and sweat-resistant sun protection. It comes in a recyclable tin can too so you don’t have to worry about more plastic waste entering the oceans.
43. Plastic Free Lip Balm
When you’re traveling and exposed to more harmful elements that will leaving your lips chapped and dry, you will need lip balm of lip salve to moisturize your lips. Most lip balms sold over-the-counter comes in a plastic container but nowadays zero waste practitioners have more sustainable options to soothe their lips.
You can kiss plastic goodbye with lip balms that come in tin cans and paper tube packaging. This low waste swap is “da balm”!
44. Reusable face mask
OceansAsia estimates that 1.56 billion face masks will have entered oceans in 2020. With Covid-19 cases still rising, experts still recommend we practice social distancing and wearing masks to slow down the transmission of the virus. It seems we will still be needing masks in the coming months.
Rather than using single-use surgical face masks, switch to a reusable face mask instead. Unless, of course, you are a medical front liner or have a medical condition that puts you on a higher risk of becoming ill. Make sure to read and follow the mask guidelines set by experts so you get the correct reusable mask that will keep you safe in these unprecedented times.
45. Plastic Free hand washing
Have you found yourself wanting to wash your hands but either don’t have access to a soap or a sink? These tiny soap slices in a travel tin is exactly what you need to clean your hands while on the go. Rather than using travel wipes which are often non-biodegradeable and wasteful, these hand soaps will leave you cleaner and greener wherever you may be.
Similarly to the tiny single use soaps, you can use paper soaps that works exactly the same way. With your dry hands, take a paper soap add water and lather away. Lightweight and compact, these portable soap sheets are perfect for when you go on hikes, backpacking, or traveling. Don’t forget to dry using a handkerchief or an unpaper towel for a waste free handwashing experience.
Shop hand soap sheets on Amazon
Zero Waste Starter Kits
Since this list of zero waste swaps might be too overwhelming, here are some plastic free kits that can help you in your zero waste journey. I wanted to share these zero waste gift sets or plastic free starter kits anyway so you can see what is available out there.
They are also wonderful environmentalist gifts you can get yourself or someone that you know. You can also check out my list of best zero waste subscription boxes to help you jumpstart living plastic-free.
While purchasing kits may be cheaper if bought in bundles and may save you on shipping, you might end up getting items you would not like and use anyway. This seems counterintuitive to the zero waste life. So, if the kits are exactly what you are looking for, then great! But if they are not a perfect fit for your needs, I would recommend holding off the purchase and only buying what you really need.
For more bundles, check out this list of best zero waste starter kits.
Want more tips to reduce your plastic waste? Here are 101 ways you can say no to plastic every day.
Where to buy your sustainable and zero waste products
1. Buy Second Hand
Buying something second hand will extend a products life and stop items from being thrown in the landfills. When possible check with your family and friends if they have something you might need that they no longer use and offer to buy it from them.
You can also Check thrift stores, second hand store and other market places. From fashion to furniture to gadgets, you can save money and save the planet by shopping second hand.
2. Specialty and Zero Waste Stores Near You
With the growing zero waste and sustainable lifestyle community, more and more businesses are coming up with sustainable solutions to help address consumer concerns. Check your local community and find out the zero waste stores near you. Support eco-friendly companies that are finding ways to helping save our seas.
If you happen to be on my side of the world and need zero waste products, here are some of the sustainable lifestyle store in the Philippines.
Many sustainable companies sell their products online to make their product available to more people. Should you decide to shop online, do consider the sellers location as well.
Many of the zero waste products I mentioned on this post are from EarthHero and Etsy.
I recently discovered EarthHero and immediately loved what they do.
EarthHero is an eco-friendly online marketplace, who only works with ethical brands.
Every product on their website contains a sustainability feature to make it easier for any discerning consumer to make the right choice. You can learn about the eco-friendly features, the materials used to make it, the packing it comes in, and what you should do at the end of its life.
EarthHero has basically vetted the companies for you so you can make the eco-friendly choice every time.
As a small business owner who used to sell on Etsy, I love promoting the cool stuff I find on there. Etsy is a platform for crafters and makers, many of whom believe in sustainability and creating eco-friendly products. So if you’re looking for bespoke, handmade, and sustainable products, try shopping on Etsy.
There are many entrepreneurs who sell their zero waste products on Etsy because just like them they want more people to live a waste free. So if you are looking to support businesses who are passionate about our planet as much as you, Etsy is another online market place to find them.
One of the great things about Etsy is that many sustainable and eco-friendly brands from all over the world sell on the platform. So if you live in the UK and are looking for zero waste products, you will find many UK-based sellers on the website too.
Another eco-friendly online store worth supporting is EcoRoots– an eco-conscious and minimalist brand founded in Aspen, Colorado.
You can get high-quality and affordable plastic-free and zero waste products from EcoRoots. While they do sell their own products, they also work with other small businesses that has the same brand philosophy as theirs.
Another great thing about EcoRoots is that they guarantee a plastic free shipping- something that is often overlooked by online sellers. Their shipping materials are 100% recyclable and compostable so you don’t have to worry about another piece of plastic in the ocean.
And speaking of oceans, you’ll be happy to know that EcoRoot is a 1% for the Planet member. This means that with every purchase, a portion of the sales is donated to nonprofit organizations like Ocean Conservancy to support their causes.
If you would like to shop for your zero waste swaps online, you may also check out these zero waste stores that ship plastic-free.
USA: Life without Plastic | Net Zero | Zero Waste Store | Zero Waste Outlet | Bamboo Switch | Me Mother Earth | Well Earth Goods
Canada: Zero Waste MVMT | Etee Shop | Smile Boutiques | Plantish Future
UK: Battle Green Box | Plastic Free Zone | Bambootique UK | Jungle Culture
Australia: Dirty Hippie Cosmetics | Wanderlightly
For more recommendations, you may also search my List of Eco-friendly Stores Online to find the best online zero waste shop near you.
Tips for Zero Waste Shopping
- Go through the 6 R’s of Zero Waste (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Rot, Recycle) and consider each step before purchasing.
- When possible buy second hand products. Many consumers love buying latest items and easily discard products even when they are still fully functional.
- Choose products made from organic materials. It’s safer for you and the environment.
- When possible, get directly from the source to cut down on costs and reduce carbon footprint.
- Choose to buy from a store nearest you. Think about how much fuel, time, money, you might consume by shopping from a store that’s farther from you.
- When buying online, check how it will be shipped to you. Not everyone ships plastic free.
- Shop package free by buying in zero waste bulk stores. Refill stations for basic and common items will greatly reduce your waste.
- Research well on the products and the companies to help you weigh in on the pros and cons.
- Choose quality products. It might be more expensive up front but it can last longer and will be more economical in the long term.
- It’s not about perfection but doing the best you can with what is available to you.
Everything ever made on this planet will need natural resources, manpower, and machines to become what it is. It will require vehicles and fuel to get it out in stores and then to you. Then once you are done using and consuming, you will need to think of how you will get rid of it.
If you think about all the resources used to make one item, from production to distribution, only to have it thrown after one use, you will see how wasteful it can be. To quote Roz Savage, “It cannot be right to manufacture billions of objects that are used for a matter of minutes, and then are with us for centuries.”
Our addiction to plastic is toxic. It is slowly killing us, our oceans and our planet and we need to take action before it’s too late.
So now, the question is, are you ready to make the switch?
Pin this for later to guide you in your next easy zero waste swap!
Are you following a zero waste lifestyle? What easy zero waste swaps have you done? Which plastic free alternative do you want to incorporate in your life next? Leave a comment below!
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