Approaching a zero waste lifestyle may be daunting at first, but once you start, it will become second nature and you won’t believe how easy it is to avoid certain disposable items and how much you will end up saving over time.
Here are a few items that can easily be avoided and substituted with alternatives that will last you a lifetime and that you may even already have at home. These swaps will not only save YOU time and money, but most importantly they will save the PLANET from a lot of unnecessary waste.
Normally, when switching to a Zero Waste Life style, the first thing that is eliminated from ones daily routine, are single-use water bottles. There is absolutely no need for them, get a quality reusable bottle and have it with you at all times. Fill it up before you leave your home, at water fountains at work, or ask bartenders to kindly fill it up for. If you don’t like the way your tap water tastes, get a filter. When you buy a bottled beverage you are not only paying for the liquid inside it, but for the container too. Save cash, and ditch plastic bottles.
Paper towels and napkins
Paper towels are usually the go-to product every time something in a kitchen gets spilled, or there’s a need to wipe off dirty hands. Grab them, use them, throw them in the bin. Their life span is pretty short… even though let’s be honest, most of them don’t really come that cheap! Why spend that much money for something that is used for mere seconds? Switch to cotton rags and cloth napkins! For wiping surfaces choose a cloth with a wide weave which will be more absorbent. As for napkins you could get different colors or use customized napkin holders so that every family member has their very own which can be reused multiple times until it then gets thrown in the laundry basket with everything else. When choosing cloth alternatives stay away from microfibers though, as they will inevitably shed micro-plastics when placed in the washing machine.
Just like paper towels and paper napkins, tissues get used for very little time. Switch to good old handkerchiefs. They are more delicate on your nose, they are more resistant, can be neatly folded up and kept in your pocket, and most importantly, they can be used over and over.
Invest in quality glass containers, or better still, repurpose old jars or old containers that you have around your home and use those to store leftovers or other products that you would usually store away in plastic baggies. Yes, plastic baggies are not single-use, they get used multiple times, but after a while they end up smelling or tearing, without mentioning the fact that your food is in direct contact with its plastic material and you could actually end up eating micro-plastics. Glass alternatives won’t get ruined with time and won’t contaminate your food with chemicals.
Aluminium foil and Cling Film
Between the two aluminium foil is way more sustainable than cling film because it can very easily be recycled and reused, but nevertheless, if you could avoid using disposable or plastic items in your kitchen, however recyclable they may be, why not do so? Both can easily be replaced by environmentally friendly alternatives such as beeswax wraps, tea towels, inverted plates or bowls, or stretchy silicone lids that adapt to different size containers.
Another item that can completely be erased from our kitchens are sponges. Sponges are made of plastic, they get used for a couple of weeks, maybe months, and then get thrown away, never to be seen again because they can’t be recycled. Use old rags to make dish cloths. If you don’t think dish cloths are enough to scrub your utensils then consider purchasing compostable scrubs instead. Items such as wooden bottle brushes, scrubs or pot scrapers can last way longer than plastic sponges, and at the end of their life span can at least get recycled.
Feminine Hygiene Products
For the ladies who every month find themselves purchasing pads and tampons, switch to reusable cloth pads, a menstrual cup or period underwear. Think of how many tampons you go through every month, every year, for a prolonged amount of time. Why create all that waste and spend all that money when there are alternatives that can do the same exact job while also keeping you away from chemical additives (such as bleach) that most hygiene products have?
Make-up remover wipes are single-use items, if you don’t use really heavy make-up you could probably use the same one twice switching from front to back, but still, they can’t be used more times than that. Look for reusable wipes that can easily be put in the washing machine and be used over and over.
This may be the trickiest one because unfortunately plastic packaging can’t be that easily avoided. There are plenty of package free shops opening all over the world, but if you aren’t familiar with any in your area and the only items you can find package free at your local grocery store, aside from fruit and vegetables are grains and nuts and candy, start researching! Some shops could also have dispensers for pasta or flour, or washing up liquid and other cleaning products. Keep your eyes open for more package free options around your local shop or area and always choose package free options over pre-packaged ones. Once you are determined to buy less packaging as possible you will start to see more and more options available (of course remember to bring reusable containers and bags to put your items in)Look online for Apps or for Zero Waste groups in your area that could give you tips on where to find what is on your shopping list! This will not only impact your amount of waste, but it will also greatly benefit your pockets.
These are just a few things that can be swapped, a few single-use items that could be replaced by longer lasting, more sustainable, alternatives that you may already have in your home, and a few actions that can be taken to reduce the amount of waste you make with daily actions.
We are sure there are much more. Leave us a comment and let us know other items you have forever eliminated from your home!