Switching to a more natural zero waste life can be an overwhelming experience. While you want to do it all right immediately, it can be tough to figure out where to even start.
That’s why I have compiled my top nine must-have easy zero waste swaps no talks about for kickstarting your zero waste journey.
Reusable Glass Food Storage Containers
Whether you are buying jars or repurposing a jar, glass jars are a necessity. My house is full of mason jars in varying shapes and sizes, as well as some repurposed jars. From rice to leftovers, I store everything in them.
You can bring your own mason jars into many grocery stores to fill with bulk items, so you won’t use plastic bags (bonus!). Also, you can use them for storing leftovers and sliced fruits or veggies. They keep things sealed nicely and look great while doing so. When I am done with a jar, I simply wash it out, and it is ready to store its next item.
Ditch that sponge that will take hundreds of years to decompose in a landfill and get some rags. Sponges can harbor lots of nasty bacteria in your kitchen, and last only a few weeks. Cloths, however, can do all the same cleaning and when you are done you can just throw it in the washing machine giving you peace of mind that you are not spreading bacteria through your kitchen.
You can get all different types of cleaning cloths and even some with more scrubbing power for those hard to clean dishes. Swedish Dishcloth Cellulose Sponge Cloths are a great option to use on all types of surfaces.
Scrub Brush for Dishes
The varying-size bottle cleaners are my favorite since many of our stainless-steel cups and mugs cannot be washed in the dishwasher.
I find myself using my OXO Good Grips Soap Dispensing Dish Brush for everything. You can’t go wrong with them – gentle enough to not scratch the cups, yet powerful enough to give them a little scrub. Plus, with the touch of a button, it dispenses soap.
When I am done doing the dishes, I just set them on the drying rack and allow them to dry completely. Due to this, there is no risk of bacteria remaining on the surface.
Reusable Water Bottle
Trade out those plastic water bottles for the safer and eco-friendly stainless-steel ones. If you are like me, you have broken more water bottles than you can count.
I am constantly dropping water bottles so glass was not an option and even my thick plastic ones could only take so much.
This is just one of the reasons I love my stainless-steel cups and bottles. Companies like S’well, Healthy Human (who also makes the bottle brush I love so much! ), and Byta are making them look gorgeous too. Plus, they keep things hot/cold for hours and hours.
Bees Wax Wraps
Unlike plastic wrap that is just going to hit the trash as soon as you are done with it beeswax wraps can be used over and over again. The great thing about beeswax wraps is you can make them at home.
No matter whether you make them yourself or buy them online, they are a wonderful alternative to plastic. Here are some of my favorites that you can buy online.
Bee’s wax wraps contain all-natural ingredients such as beeswax, jojoba oil, and pine resin. This means when you wrap your food up in them you don’t need to worry about what nasty chemicals might be leaking into it.
They are also super easy to clean, a simple rinse under warm water with soap and you are good to go. I use mine for everything from covering a bowl to wrapping up half an apple. They are easy to shape however you need and stick easily to itself or bowls.
Metal or Bamboo Straws
Metal or bamboo straws are a must, I even carry them with me in my purse! Recently, I read an article saying that there are as many as 8,3 billion plastic straws polluting our beaches worldwide. This doesn’t include all the straws polluting our oceans.
It is clear plastic straws are a huge problem. Some states are even taking action by banning plastic straws all together! That’s why it is good to be ahead of the game and help mother earth out a bit by carrying your own metal or bamboo straws with you.
I have a whole mason jar full of reusable straws on my counter at home too for when I make smoothies (or margaritas). Here is a link to some great straws to get you started: stainless steel straws and bamboo straws.
When we started composting I was absolutely amazed by how much waste it reduced. Our kitchen trash bag took weeks to fill when we took it out at least once a week simply due to the smell. This and recycling are what have reduced our waste the most. Plus, if you are able to keep your compost, it will eventually become an excellent organic matter for your garden.
However, if you are not in a place where you can have a compost bin some cities offer compost pick up weekly. Check with waste management in your area.
Reusable Grocery and Produce Bags
I will admit that every time I walk into the grocery store with my reusable bags and reusable produce bags I feel like the ultimate eco-warrior. Reusable bags are a simple yet impactful step in the journey to living a more natural life.
A recent statistic showed that Americans use about 100 billion plastic bags each year. One statistic I found said that the average reusable bag has a lifespan of more than 700 plastic bags. By just buying a few reusable bags you could be preventing thousands of plastic bags from ending up in a landfill.
There are also great produce and bread bags, that can save you from the shopping cart full of half-full plastic bags from the produce section. These bags are mesh and even have their weights on the tag. If they are ever dirty I simply toss them in the wash. I also use them to store potatoes and onions since they are so handy. This mesh bag also work great for grains and other bulk items if you don’t want to bring your mason jars to the bulk section.
Reusable Coffee Filters
Did you know that over half of all Americans age 18 and up are daily coffee drinkers? This means about 150,000 coffee filters or k-cups per day are going in the trash.
While certain coffee filters will biodegrade the plastic K-cups for Keurig will not. This is why it is important to find a zero-waste alternative.
Just switching for your 1 cup of morning coffee could save 365 K-cups from going in the trash this year. That’s a lot! Keurig offers a reusable K-cup that you simply fill with whatever coffee you choose. (Amazon link). There are also reusable coffee filters. A French press is also a great option if you’re feeling a bit adventurous. This simple change is a big step in the right direction for going zero waste.
Making any one of these changes is a huge step in the right direction. However, zero waste swaps can be rewarding. Going zero waste is a big commitment and one I applaud you for taking the first steps towards.