Have you ever thought about how much waste you produce? And I’m not just talking about the occasional coffee cup or plastic bag. Everyday products that we rely on each and every day create mountains of trash annually, affecting our environment in negative ways.
So what can you do to help reduce your footprint on this earth? It might be easier than you think! Here are 12 Simple Zero Waste Swaps that will definitely make a difference.
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What is a zero waste product?
It means that the production of your product is as close to zero waste as possible. This includes recycling and repurposing materials, reusing packaging, reducing environmental impact by using less water or energy in manufacturing, and much more.
Zero waste products are all about reducing the environmental impact of packaging, disposal and consumption. Zero waste advocates encourage consumers to reduce their reliance on plastics, use reusable containers, make less trash in general (consume less) and be mindful of what they purchase.
How do you switch to zero waste?
Are you a person who is considering becoming more environmentally friendly? Switching to zero waste is a great way for those passionate about the environment or sustainability to have an impact! Here are some quick tips on making the transition.
1. Swap plastic bags for reusable produce and bulk shopping bags.
2. Switch to a menstrual cup or cloth pads.
3. Buy in bulk, use up what you buy, and avoid food waste.
4. Bring your own bag when shopping at the grocery store.
5. Use natural cleaning products like vinegar, baking soda, or castile soap instead of harsh chemicals.
12 Simple Zero Waste Swaps For Eco-Friendly Living:
If you think that reducing your waste is a difficult task, then you’re in for a surprise. In fact, swapping out some of the items or habits in your everyday life can go a long way to making sure that you and the Earth are doing better together.
1. Water Bottles
It’s not a hard habit to get into – and it starts with just carrying a reusable water bottle. This is one of the easiest zero waste swaps.
The vast majority of people are unaware of how the plastic bottles they drink from end up in their landfills and incinerators. Plastic has become such a staple part of our society that it’s hard to imagine a world without it, but according to an article published on livescience.com, more than 60 million plastic bottles end up in landfill or incinerator every day. This is enough to fill Yankee Stadium three times each year!
There are so many benefits to switching from plastic water bottles to reusable bottles. For one, it helps the environment. Secondly, you can get a sweet design you love and finally, you’ll save money!
There are many brands and types of reusable water bottles on the market, but not all are created equal. Make sure that you choose one that will last for a long time and hold enough liquid to keep you hydrated throughout the day without having to refill it multiple times.
Some good brands include Nalgene products, Klean Kanteen, even Hydro Flask for those looking for something more stylish than just plain black plastic. Finally, there is also a wide variety when it comes to shape and size which means that there should be one perfect for everyone.
2. Grocery Bags
A quick switch out of plastic baggies can help the environment. It’s easy to replace your old bags with reused or biodegradable ones for a healthier future.
The environmental impact of plastic bags is a staggering reality. They take about 1,000 years to break down and they are made from petroleum-based plastics that can contain volatile organic compounds.
The use of these bags in supermarkets has significantly increased the amount of garbage being dumped into landfills, which is a major problem because plastic doesn’t decompose naturally in landfills and it creates methane gas that’s harmful to the environment.
However, there are some great eco-friendly bags on the market. Here are a few of my favourites:
Made from recycled materials, these eco-friendly bags are durable and fold up into an easy carrying pouch. Not only do they make being environmentally conscious easier, but they also look stylish!
3. To-Go Cups
Where does your disposable coffee cup end up?
Not in the recycle bin.
Most of them can’t be recycled because they’re lined with plastic. By 2050, there will be more plastic on earth than fish if nothing changes. That is frightening!
There are a slew of different eco-friendly thermos cups available on the market. The most common being stainless steel, glass, and porcelain.
Some high-end brands include Thermos and Stanley. There are also Hydro Flask’s that offers vacuum insulation for up to 24 hours of ice-cold water or iced coffee beverages. These types of insulated containers will keep your drink hot for 12 hours and cold for 36!
My personal favourite thermos cup is the Stanley Classic Vacuum.
This is one of the easiest zero waste swaps – avoid using plastic straws!
One very easy thing that we can do is simply remove straws from our lives by asking servers or bartenders when making an order: “Do you have any plastic straws? I’ll take ’em off my tab” or “Can I get this without a straw?”
If you really have to use a straw, then there are some great stainless steel and metal straws on the market. Instead of throwing these metal straws away, you wash and clean them after you’ve used them. That way you can avoid being a part of the plastic problem
5. Dish Sponges
Over the years, we have learned that dish sponges are not eco-friendly.
They’re usually made of synthetic materials like polyester or nylon and can’t be recycled into new sponges. In addition to that, they end up in landfills where they can take up to 200 years before breaking down.
That’s why most people are the zero waste switch over to these dish brushes – because you only need one for every two months and they actually degrade, unlike dish sponges.
6. Cloth Towels
I’ll admit it, I used to be a paper towel addict… Until I realised how bad they actually are for the environment.
The paper industry is a huge contributor to the greenhouse effect. In fact, it accounts for 12% of global CO2 emissions with no signs of slowing down.
That’s not all – paper towels are among the most harmful items in our homes because they’re often used once and then thrown away.
So what can we do? Switch to reusable cloths like these!
This might sound like a small change, but swapping out your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one is actually an easy zero waste swap that can improve the environmental impact of your dental hygiene routine.
Why stop at toothbrushes when you could invest in some zero waste toothpaste too!
Each year, 1 billion plastic toothpaste tubes end up in landfills. Yes, 1 BILLION! I wrote a whole blog post detailing my favourite eco-friendly toothpaste products, which you can check out here.
8. Menstrual Products
The most common tampons and pads on the market today are made from a blend of rayon (a type of fibre made from wood pulp), conventional cotton (which is unsustainable because it requires huge quantities of water to grow), and oftentimes even contains plastic.
These three materials are not only bad for the environment, but they can also cause some nasty side effects like bacterial vaginosis.
Menstrual cups are a revolutionary product that has been gaining popularity with women. They’re made out of medical-grade silicone, so they are durable and comfortable. One cup can last up to 10 years! They also don’t contain any dyes or chemicals, which is great for anyone who suffers from sensitive skin issues like eczema or psoriasis.
If menstrual cups don’t sound like your thing, you can find some great eco-friendly menstrual products like cloth pads.
Most soap comes packaged in plastic or some kind of non-recyclable material.
However, did you know that there are plenty of eco-friendly, zero waste soap on the market? These soaps have a low environmental impact because they contain natural ingredients and biodegradable packaging.
If you are a shower gel lover, then I’d recommend switching to using a bar of soap instead because that way you cut down on the amount of plastic you’re sending to landfil.
Swapping to an eco-friendly soap is so simple. Here are some of my favourite bars of soap:
Instead of plastic cutlery, use real flatware just like I do!
Away from the kitchen, it’s easy to feel helpless in the face of all that plastic waste. In my handbag, though, I always have a set on hand for festivals and BBQs. That way I don’t feel guilty about using plastic cutlery and I feel as though I’m helping the environment.
Plastic cutlery is a major contributor to the pollution of our oceans and land. After use, plastic utensils are typically thrown away in the trash, which means they will never fully decompose.
Plastic can be harmful to animals if it washes up on shore or ends up in their food chain because it doesn’t break down like other materials do when exposed to sunlight and water.
If we all started using reusable metal silverware or bamboo cutlery instead of disposable plastic forks and knives, this would help reduce the amount of plastics that end up in landfills or worse – our planet’s waterways.
11. Toilet Paper
There are so many eco-friendly toilet paper alternatives out there.
Americans use 8 million tons of toilet paper a year. If every US house used just one roll of 100% post-consumer recycled TP a year, it would save 423,900 trees. Plus they could also contribute to other environmental initiatives such as minimizing water usage and saving energy by turning off the faucet while rinsing with lukewarm water or using recycling bins for bottles and cans.
Here are some zero waste toilet paper swaps:
- Caboo Tree Free Bamboo Toilet Paper
- BrillaBoo Organic Bamboo Toilet Paper
- Organic Bamboo Toilet Paper
Plastic razors are a popular way to get a close shave, but they have an undeniably negative environmental impact. They come in plastic cases that cannot be recycled and they can take up to 1000 years to biodegrade!
Switching to a safety razor is an excellent choice for those looking for a closer shave and safer shaving experience. Not only will you save money in the long run, but you’ll be helping the environment! This is one of my favourite zero waste swaps!