Zero Waste Swaps For Everyday Items

Zero Waste Swaps For Everyday Items

Sometimes tackling the issue of waste is overwhelming. When we think about sustainable living the big topics are the ones that tend to stick in our minds: fast fashion, plastic packaging, food waste, air pollution. How are we, as individuals, supposed to take on those giant polluters and reduce our impact?

I've written about all the zero waste swaps you can make, my most loved low waste products, and the habit shifts you can pivot to in order to live a less wasteful lifestyle. But the easiest switches are often overlooked, despite being part of our everyday lives; we think they don't matter so much because what's a few paper towels or disposable razors?

All that waste really does add up though, especially when they're products we use on a daily basis. These are the zero waste swaps for items you probably use everyday that can be quickly and easily replaced with low waste, plastic-free alternatives; saving you money and reducing your waste.

Tea and Coffee

Tea and coffee is something a lot of us drink on a daily basis without thinking about the wasteful packaging or the plastic that's in them. Yes, in them! While some brands have started to offer plastic-free tea, almost all tea bags you find on the supermarket shelves actually contain plastic. It's used to fuse the bags shut sealing the tea inside. A simple way to avoid this is to switch to drinking loose leaf tea, or at least buying from a brand that doesn't use plastic. Learn more about zero waste tea here. Plastic-free coffee is a little trickier but not impossible. There are brands offering eco-friendly packaging and there are ways to brew coffee without the waste; my guide to zero waste coffee will help.

Roll-On or Spray Deodorant

Traditional deodorants tend to come in small tubes, packaged in plastic, making them one of the most wasteful things we use and replace on a regular basis. I've tried and tested a whole bunch of zero waste deodorants and my favourite is the Salt Of The Earth Plastic-Free Deodorant Crystal. It takes a bit of getting used to but is the more effective, least wasteful deodorant I've found since one crystal will last all year if not longer. If you'd prefer to stick with a more traditional deodorant, I recommend trying the Salt Of The Earth Deodorant Balm or Pitt Balm (gifted). Both are plastic-free cream formulas that are easy to apply and last all day, in my experience. Consider switching to a vegan-friendly low waste perfume too.

Cotton Pads

A super easy and affordable low waste switch is replacing disposable cotton pads with reusable cotton rounds or cloths. I used to swear by cotton rounds (I purchased mine from Love The Planet) but I now use cotton flannels, which are cheaper to buy and just as gentle on your skin. I find they last longer than cotton rounds, are easier to clean, less likely to stain or warp out of shape, and more affordable - unless you make the pads yourself from fabric scraps.

Disposable Menstrual Products

This switch isn't for everyone and isn't something to feel guilty about if you're unable to. I still rely on disposables because my cycle is tricky enough to deal with without stressing over the small amount of disposables I use. It's worth trying out a menstrual cup though as it'll save you quite a bit of money and cut down on plastic waste. I recommend purchasing a kit that includes a menstrual cup and reusable pads, like the Arya Box (gifted), which also includes a steriliser, cleaning brush, and storage bag. That way, if you don't get along with the cup immediately, you have a back up option. Here's a guide to using a menstrual cup and a few zero waste period products if the cup doesn't work out for you.

Hair Products

Another product to share with your household by bulk buying and saving money. Faith In Nature make gentle and effective shampoo and conditioner sold in 5L refills, helping to reduce plastic waste. I buy a bottle of each once or twice a year whenever there is a discounted promotion, and share with my partner. The 5L bottles are made from recycled plastic and can be recycled, plus all Faith In Nature products are made in the UK and are vegan-friendly. Shampoo and conditioner bars don't work for me so bulk buying liquid products is a great option for low waste hair care.

Disposable Razors

This is a harder sell than some of the other zero waste swaps for everyday items. I love my safety razor but my partner didn't get on with his. There definitely is a learning curve (particularly if you're shaving delicate areas like the face!) but it's worth it if you can afford the investment. Safety razors range in price and like with many zero waste swaps, require a little more money upfront for the initial purchase. Long term it'll save you money since blades can last months and are cheap to buy. Curious? Read my guide to zero waste hair removal.

Liquid Soap

Bar soap is just as easy and cheaper to buy than liquid soap, it lasts longer and does exactly the same thing. The only thing missing is the cute glass pump bottle but you can replace that with a cute soap dish instead. This is one of the simplest and easiest swaps you can make that will save you money and reduce the amount of waste your home creates. Take a look at this post on zero waste soap for eco-friendly, vegan-friendly options.

Kitchen Roll / Paper Towels

These are super easy to replace with a pack of washable cloths. I've been using the ecoegg Bamboo Towels for a few years now and they're an excellent replacement for disposable kitchen roll and paper towels. I use them wet or dry for cleaning, wiping up spills, dusting down surfaces, and drying things. They're strong and absorbent, and can be washed at a high temperature (killing germs) up to 85 times. If you're buying a pack of disposable kitchen roll every week for around £3, switching to reusable towels will save you a lot of money.

Plastic Wrap

Whether you need to store leftovers or wrap up lunch, there's always a better option than disposable plastic wrap. Wax wraps are an option but not really not an essential purchase. Repurpose what you already have before buying something. Store leftovers in glass jars, in a bowl with a plate placed on top, in old plastic tubs or containers. Need to wrap something for lunch? Use a container with a lid, a produce bag, or for sandwiches, purchase a lunchbox (second-hand is just fine). Plastic wrap is one of those things we've convinced ourselves we need when really we can do just fine without it.

Cleaning Products

There are lots of eco-friendly cleaning products that make switching to a low waste option without compromising on cleanliness really easy. Simplifying your cleaning routine by getting rid of unnecessary multiple products is the first step; the next step is replacing them with effective low waste alternatives. I've been bulk buying Bio-D products for years and highly recommend them for cutting down on your waste and saving money. The All Purpose Sanitiser or Multi-Surface Sanitiser can be used safely everywhere in your home; I use it to clean everywhere from my bathroom to the kitchen, from the counters to the floors. I also recommend the fragrance-free Washing-Up Liquid and Laundry Liquid.

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