20 Easy Zero Waste Swaps to Reduce Your Plastic Usage

zero waste products

One of the most convenient products created, is now one of the main perpetrators against Mother Nature. Plastic can be found just about everywhere, in many of the products we use everyday. It’s so abundant, we rarely take notice of it.

But it’s highly noticeable once discarded. According to the Royal Statistical Society, over 90% of plastics are not recycled and “roughly 79% accumulating in either landfill or the natural environment.”

While the 20 zero waste products provided won’t put an end to all of the existing plastic waste, they are definitely great steps in the direction to preventing future plastic waste.

1. Silicone bags

Silicone bags are one of the more popular zero waste products right now. When you own a silicon lunch bag, most of your food transport needs are covered.

Their design allows you to store a variety of foods – sandwiches, pasta, cookies, etc. Cleanup up is easy and the bags can be reused for an extended period of time. Say good bye to plastic lunch baggies!

2. Reusable food wraps

Popular versions of reusable food wraps – beeswax  and organic cotton cloth coated with plant-based wax, or tree resin – are the earth friendly alternatives to plastic wrap. There is no need to buy plastic wrap ever again.

These versions work just as well for both wrapping your favorite fruit, vegetables, and sandwiches. You can also use these wraps over plates and bowls. To clean, simply wipe clean with a dish towel and diluted dish soap and rinse.

3. Reusable Straws

The next time you order a drink, request it without a straw if plastic is the only option. If you aren’t a fan of leaving remnants of your favorite lipstick on your glass, bring your own reusable straw.

Stainless steel, glass, paper, and bamboo are great options to carry in your purse. All of the straws, except paper, come with the necessary tools that allow you to properly clean them.

4. Reusable Cutlery

If you are having food delivered, use the non plastic utensils you have at home. But, when ordering fast food or take-out, say “no” to plastic cutlery.

Stainless steel and bamboo are the main go-to’s for reusable cutlery. But if carrying cutlery in your bag all day isn’t your cup of tea, opt for compostable cutlery made from plant based products.

5. Reusable Bottle

Bottled water has been a convenient option for drinking water on the go. But the plastic bottles are a menace to mother nature. Leave the plastic bottled water at the store and swap it for an eco-friendly, refillable, reusable option.

There are a slew of options available – stainless steel, glass, etc – you’re guaranteed to find an option that suits your needs.

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6. Reusable Shopping Bags

A few cities and states have banned the use of plastic grocery store bags, but not enough have followed suit. To aid in keeping the earth green, combat the use of unnecessary plastic buy bringing your own reusable grocery bag.

Usually cotton totes, most stores offer reusable options for purchase. But if you have a stockpile plastic bags from previous purchases, reuse those for the time being before discarding them. Just do your best not to acquire more.

7. Reusable Produce Bag

Why stop with a reusable shopping bag, when you can own a reusable produce bag. These bags usually come in organic cotton mesh options that help reduce the use of plastic bags.

(It’s a lot easier to remember to bring a reusable grocery bag, but eventually you’ll get in the habit of packing your produce bags.)

8. Bar of soap

Unless you’re purchasing bottled soap that refills your bottles, you may want to make the switch to soap bars. Many soap bars can be purchased with little to no packaging. Most health food and organic markets have this option readily available.

Or, you can make your own with one of the many recipes that can be found online. Soap bars you get squeaky clean, and reduce waste. If you you live in a home with multiple occupants and don’t want to share the same bar of soap, using color coded soap dishes is an easy fix.

9. Shampoo and Conditioner Bars

Similar to liquid soap, some shampoo and conditioner are also sold in refillable bottles. And like bar soaps, if the refillable bottle option isn’t available, bars are available.

But if you have a hankering for DIY projects, make your own bars. With a little trial and error, you’ll figure out the shampoo and conditioner recipe that works best for you.

10. Deodorant Bar

A handful of companies have had the great idea of not using plastic for their deodorant bars, only minimum packaging – a band of paper wrapping around the bar, displaying its brand name.

The only caveat is finding bars that an handle both sweat and body odor. Most can handle odor when applied properly, but you may need an alternative to combat the sweat.

11. Makeup

There is a growing number of makeup brands who are creating more sustainable products. In addition to using vegan and organic products, they have opted to use containers made from glass, stainless steel, and bamboo.

Some have taken it a step further by offering refillable options. Although it isn’t considered makeup, you can also find lip balm bars and refillable options. Whatever your preference, there are ways to keep things green and while enhancing your beauty.

zero waste tips

12. Buy Bulk Not Packaged

If the reason you don't bring your own bag or container for bulk items is the additional weight, don’t worry. A quick visit to that location’s help desk and your problem will be solved.

Most stores that offer the bulk buy option will weigh your bag or container prior to you filling it. That weight is taken into consideration when your items are on the scale. So ditch the plastic bags and bring your own reusable bag.

13. Mason Jars and Tins

Tins and mason jars are a favorite when comes to long term food storage. They are a zero waste product and super clean. Food maintains its freshness, and these containers can last a very long time. The options are endless, and all varieties of food can be stored.

14. Natural Loofah

If you own a plastic loofah, the colorful fluffy poof hanging in your shower, please don’t purchase another.

Although they are cute, and great an amazing lather, they are horrible for the environment. Make the switch to a natural loofah for your bathing needs. If your reason for not choosing a natural loofah is its abrasiveness, there are other bath eco-friendly bath options available.

15. Charcoal Stick water Filter

We all want clean water that’s safe for drinking. Disposable water filters provide for our needs, but aren’t always eco-friendly. An option for reducing plastic waste is the charcoal stick.

A few brands offer an angle charcoal stick as a way to purify your water. Depending on your needs, and the impurities in your water, this may be a better option for you.

16. Reusable Coffee Cups

For much of the population, drinking coffee is as common is as blinking. Reusable coffee cups have been a staple for some time, so there is no excuse for for not owning one—especially if you are a person who regularly purchases coffee shop coffee.

More environmentally conscious brands have eco-friendly options made from the usual products – stainless and glass. But also have options made from a combination of recycle coffee cups and tree resin.

17. Reusable K-Cups

When making coffee at home or work, we reduce plastic waste with the use of our personal mugs. But, we must also be remember K-cups are plastic waste, despite them being small packages. A super easy fix is purchasing reusable K-Cups. They have a built-in filter, so no need to purchase any.

18. Fountain Pens

I’ll be honest, the idea of using an fountain pen seems like a lot of necessary work. It’s a small, but necessary change when we consider the unnecessary work Mother Nature must do to repair herself.

19. Compostable Dish Scrubbers

Not all sponges for household cleaning are biodegradable. When earth friendly isn’t an option for sponges, scrubbers can fill the void. These kitchen tools are typically made from bamboo, with bristles made from plant products. They offer the same level of cleanliness, if not better. And they have the added bonus of not harming the environment.

20. Safety Razor

Leave the disposable plastic razors at the store grab a better option. Safety razors may seem a bit daunting at first, but they will provide a better shave than their plastic cartridge counterparts.

The major plus is zero plastic waste, since most of these shavers are either made from bamboo or stainless steel.

How do you reduce your waste? Opening up our comments for discussion.

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  1. Cami JS says

    I already do steps 3,4,5,6,10 and 13, 18,&20. I did notice that the last pouf I bought for my shower was marked as recyclable with the ♻️ 4 and I haven’t bought one in about 6 months, I stopped using it but I never thought about converting over to a loofah. That’s a great idea!!! Also about 4-5 years ago we did buy a coffee maker that had a reusable filter so after you’re done with it you jump your coffee grounds in your compost and rinse it in hot water. Keurigs are hard to clean, there is an internal water reservoir that is very hard to access and wash out so bacteria builds up. Yuck! On suggestion#18, many pens are actually refillable and you can purchase the ink at Staples and Office Depot and replace the ink in many many pens on the market.

  2. Robyn says

    I used a charcoal stick in a glass water pitcher for a while, but unfortunately the big stick hitting the top of the bottle again and again as we poured water led the pitcher to eventually break. So I ended up buying a Soma water pitcher, which has compostable (industrial composting only) filters.

    I’m planning on buying a safety razor very soon.

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