So you want to go zero waste, but you are clueless about the necessary lifestyle swaps that will help you make the transition. Look no further, friend! We've created the ultimate list of zero waste swaps to help you reach zero waste badass status in no time.
Let's start with the place you likely spend a lot of time in: your home.
Paper Towels –> Reusable Towels
More than 13 billion pounds of paper towels are used each year in the USA, amounting to 40 pounds – the equivalent of 80 rolls – per person, per year. Producing all that paper consumes a lot of resources, including 110 million trees per year, and 130 billion gallons of water. Comparably huge amounts of energy are required to manufacture and deliver it from the factory to the store, causing plenty of carbon dioxide to be emitted into the atmosphere. After a single use, it all goes into the landfill – some 3,000 tons annually – where it generates methane as it decomposes. Like carbon dioxide, methane is a greenhouse gas that’s strongly implicated as a cause of climate change. The convenience of paper towels comes with a heavy price far above what you pay in the store. The alternative? Reusable organic cotton towels. Yes, go ahead and hit the "The Was Easy" button.
Paper Napkins –> Reusable Napkins
Similar to paper towels, napkins are another common disposable kitchen item that are not only wasteful but also unnecessary. Swap out your paper napkins for reusable napkins.
Disposable Cutlery, Plates & Cups –> Reusable Cutlery, Plates & Cups
This one is a no-brainer: swap out all of those disposables including paper or plastic plates, plastic cutlery, styrofoam cups etc. with reusable plates, cups and cutlery. Check out our party pack of straws and utensils coming soon!
Aluminum Foil –> Reusable Baking Sheet
While aluminum foil is just as recyclable as aluminum cans, some recycle programs aren't equipped to process foil. Aluminum foil is many times covered in food scraps and most recycling facilities won't accept food covered items. In addition, using aluminum foil to wrap your leftovers is even more wasteful than using plastic wrap by nearly every metric, due to fossil fuel consumption, aquatic toxicity, and greenhouse gas emissions. Ditch the aluminum foil and adopt any of the following:
Nonstick Pan –> Cast Iron Pan
Nonstick pans feature chemicals such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), tetrafluoroethylene, and other perfluorochemicals (PFCs) that may be linked to various health issues, including different types of cancer. Swap out that $h!t with the real deal... a cast iron pan.
Plastic Tupperware –> Reusable Glass & Aluminum Containers
This is an easy swap! While we don't encourage you to take all of your plastic tupperware and throw them away, we do encourage you to donate them and replace them with glass and metal. Plastic containers have been said to leak chemicals into the liquid or food placed inside of them, especially when exposed to heat. #OkayNoThanks
Plastic Dish Dryer –> Metal Dish Dryer
Find the sexier alternative here.
Plastic Cutting Board –> Wood Cutting Board
Disposable Sponge –> Compostable & Reusable Dish Brush
While sponges look relatively harmless and even helpful, they are quite the opposite when it comes to their affects on the environment. To learn more, visit this link. To adopt the better alternative, visit here or here.
Conventional Dish Soap –> Organic Bulk Soap
Conventional dish soaps contain synthetic fragrances, foaming agents and other additives which are harmful to you and the planet. Adopt the healthier alternative with our personal favorite: Dr. Bronner's soap.
K-Cups –> Reusable Fresh Press
Plastic Baggies –> Reusable Silicone Baggies
Swap out those wasteful snack baggies with reusable silicone baggies. Our choice: Stasher bags.
Water Filter –> Charcoal Stick
Trash Can –> Compost & Recycling Bins ;)
For the badasses out there that want to take it to the next level... Ditch your trash can and adopt the following methods of disposing your waste:
- Food --> compost bin
- Recyclable waste --> recycling bin (leave this as a last resort. Remember, the 6 R's go: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Rot, Recycle and only in that order)
Now, onto another place which you likely spend a lot of time in.... your bathroom!
Shampoo –> Organic Bulk Shampoo/Shampoo Bars
Ditch the conventional products which contain synthetic fragrances, excess packaging and other BS by adopting the greener alternatives. Our choices: buy organic soaps in bulk or bar shampoos, soaps and conditioners.
Disposable Razor –> Reusable Safety Razor
Plastic Toothbrush –> Compostable Bamboo Toothbrush
Our top pick for the plastic-free alternative to brushing your teeth: a bamboo toothbrush. Find it here.
Plastic Comb/Hair Brush –> Bamboo Comb/Hair Brush
Plastic Floss –> Compostable Floss
The affect that plastic floss has on environment, particularly marine life is truly devastating. Adopt the green, more compassionate alternative here.
Tissues –> Cloth Handkerchiefs
Similar to napkins, tissues are another tool that foster our throwaway society. Adopt the tool that has been used for decades (and likely by your grandparents!): a reusable handkerchief.
Moving on now to on-the-go. Our fast paced society puts us in a tricky position when we are movin' and groovin' constantly, pushing us to rely heavily on convenience. Consider the following zero waste lifestyle alternatives for a less wasteful on-the-go experience.
Plastic Water Bottle –> Reusable Water Bottle
Making water bottles in American uses 17 million barrels of oil each year, and tens of billions of plastic bottles produced are mostly not recycled (somewhere around 75% fail to be recycled). Adopting a reusable water bottle reduces your waste, saves you money, and helps you avoid drinking BPA found in plastic water bottles which is linked to hormonal problems and cancer. Example brand we love here.
Disposable To-Go Cups –> Reusable Travel Mug
Disposable To-Go Containers –> Reusable To-Go Container
Disposable Straws, Utensils & Napkins –> Reusable Straw, Utensils & Napkin
Who needs to rely on all of these disposables when you have your Zero Waste Kit handy? ;)
Accepting Freebies –> Just Say No
And lastly... Just say no. To bags. To straws. To plastic utensils. To napkins. To freebies (this is a big one!). To ALL single-use disposables, really. Practice setting boundaries by politely saying, “No, thank you” when confronted with potential waste. Say it more than once so it really lands.
Thanks for tuning in for another blog post on the Zero Waste Kit blog! We hope this list of alternatives helps you on your journey to reducing your ecological footprint. If you have any comments or questions, be sure to leave them below. Lastly, don't forget to share this blog post with someone who you think would appreciate it!
Until next time, badasses.