You’ve probably already got your water bottle and reusable coffee cup, but here are 10 other zero waste swaps to consider which can greatly reduce your plastic and carbon footprint, plus most can also save you money over time!
This post is in partnership with EarthHero which is a wonderful one-stop-shop for sustainable home, baby, clothing, and beauty products, they also have a fantastic collection of zero waste products. I love that they are a B Corp and have carbon neutral shipping, plus since it’s earth week, they’re offering 15% off your entire order! 🎉
I can’t even count how much money and plastic bottles I’ve saved by making my own home cleaning products, plus they’re all natural and non-toxic!
You can use a spray bottle like this and simply mix vinegar and water for a great multi-purpose cleaner (I typically do 50/50). If you like it scented you can also add essential oils, or even better, let some leftover citrus peels soak in the vinegar which also helps if you don’t like the vinegar smell.
You can get a large 4L bottle of vinegar for less than the cost of one bottle of cleaner and it’ll last you ages. Baking soda and liquid castile soap can also be used to make great DIY cleaning products.
13 billion pounds of paper towels are used in the US each year. The average American spent $17.50 on paper towels in a year, for a 2 person household that’s $35 just on paper towels. Switching to cloth towels is an easy way to save all that paper and money!
You can use existing cloths, DIY towels from excess fabric or get some organic cotton unpaper towels – for just a little more than the average American household spends in a year on paper towels you can get this 12 pack of reuseables which should be plenty for a family, or if you don’t need as many they also have a 6 pack!
Reusable Snack/Sandwich Bags
Little plastic bags are a common sight in most lunches and for snacks. If you use just 1 per day during the weekdays that’s 260 bags a year! (and typically people use more than 1 and also bring snacks on weekend outings) This can very quickly add up to a ton of plastic waste.
A washable and reusable option like Stasher Bags is a great way to securely carry your food and snacks or store things without all the garbage.
Cost-wise a Stasher Bag is roughly the equivalent of 2-4 boxes of plastic sandwich bags but will last much longer!
Plastic wrap is not recyclable and every year Americans buy enough to wrap the state of Texas! 😵
A simple swap for all that plastic are beeswax wraps. With just the warmth of your hands they cover bowls and can be wrapped around cut foods to keep them fresh. When they’re no longer usable (I’ve found they typically last about a year) they can be composted, make excellent fire starters or you can try this trick to revive them and give them some extra life.
While air-drying your clothes is definitely the most sustainable and money-saving option, sometimes it’s difficult to avoid using the dryer – for us it’s usually cloth diapers we need the dryer for and I really wanted to find a way to cut down how long we use the dryer as much as possible.
Dryer balls help separate the clothes to improve air-flow and also can help with wrinkles and static (although I haven’t properly tested this). The stats I’ve found on wool dryer ball usage range anywhere from reducing drying time by 4-50% so there seems to be many variables involved, however in my anecdotal experience we were able to cut about 20min off drying a diaper load which I’m pretty happy with!
Many people use multiple disposable cotton pads to clean skin and remove makeup every day. This quickly adds up to a ton of waste and hefty environmental impact considering all the water and pesticides needed to grow cotton. Even though they usually only cost a few cents each, that quickly adds up too!
Reusable cotton rounds are an easy switch – they work the same as disposables and you just add them to your regular laundry (I recommend keeping them in a little mesh sack though so they don’t get lost in the washer 😅).
Solid Dish Detergent
Bar hand and body soap is an easy way to save plastic bottles, but what about solid soap for your dishes?
This organic castile dish soap is a new swap we’re trying out. It’s especially useful since our local refill shop is currently closed. A solid dish bar is apparently just as effective as liquid and can last months!
Copper Scouring Pads
Plastic scrubbing pads and sponges slowly break apart and lose little bits of plastic as you use them, contributing to microplastic pollution in our water systems and they’re even finding bits of plastic in the air!
Copper is a wonderful option to scrub your dishes because it’s long-lasting and antimicrobial so a lot more hygienic than a sponge which quickly gets funky. It’s uses aren’t limited to dishes though, a copper cloth can be great for cleaning all kinds of things around the house, garage, and garden so the Redecker ones handily come in a 2 pack!
Organic Hair Ties
Now this swap isn’t a money saver, but it is a plastic saver!
How many hair elastics have you lost or broken? For me it’s countless, they seems to just disappear into bags and bathroom drawers or vanish from my wrist (seriously how does that happen?!). I probably went through a pack a year when I had long hair and I have no idea where most of them ended up but it was sadly likely as litter.
Kooshoo makes really cool plastic-free and biodegradable hair ties. They’re made from organic cotton and natural rubber so if they do mysteriously disappear you don’t have to worry about them adding more plastic to the environment!
Switching to a safety razor has been a huge money and plastic saver for me! After the initial investment of the razor, the blades are quite cheap compared to disposables. I used to spend $30-$40 a year on disposable razor cartridges but now spend about $6 a year on razor blades. 💰
While safety razors can take a little time to get used to, after you get the hang of it they work great and give a nice close shave.
So those are 10 swaps I’ve made to help reduce our household plastic waste and energy.
If you’re looking for any sustainable or zero waste products this week is a great time to check out EarthHero while they have their earth week sale on!
Please let me know in the comments – what are your favourite planet and money-saving changes you’ve made?