One Step Closer To Zero Waste! Sustainable Swaps For Everyday Items
At this point, it’s pretty clear that none of us can singlehandedly rescue the planet from the sheer amount of junk we, as a society, generate.
Nevertheless, individuals can all inch the needle forward by taking responsibility for the waste we contribute. After all, according to the EPA, most people produce just shy of 5 pounds of waste every day. And believe it or not, most of that is headed straight to the nearest landfill!
Luckily, we can counteract the negative effects our consumption is having on the planet. For one, we can make a greater effort to recycle and compost our waste. But even before we get to sorting our trash, we can minimize the amount of waste we bring into our homes. With that in mind, let’s talk about some easy Zero Waste substitutes we can make to the everyday objects we use.
Easy Zero Waste Swaps That Can Reduce Your Output
As we all know, reducing waste accumulation starts with changing our consumption habits. For example, we should opt for timeless, high-quality pieces rather than buying cheap but trendy clothing from fast fashion brands. But what can we do to reduce the number of expendable items we use in our day-to-day lives? These are our top suggestions.
Dental Hygiene Products
Most people can agree that oral health is pretty important. Keeping our teeth clean makes us more presentable and prevents a range of painful diseases. Sadly, dental hygiene products are often the least sustainable items in our households.
Take toothbrushes, for example. These are products we all have to replace every three months or so. That means that a billion plastic toothbrushes end up in landfills each year. But is there a suitable replacement we could make?
Well, you can always get a Zero Waste toothbrush. In fact, you should expect to see bamboo replacements for a variety of single-use products. If nothing else, the grass grows much more quickly than most woods, so using it in the manufacturing process is certainly more sustainable. Besides, these kinds of toothbrushes are usually compostable as well.
On top of that, you may also want to look for a Zero Waste toothpaste alternative. After all, the standard stuff comes in plastic tubes. If you’re interested in finding a replacement, you could get dental tablets or even tooth powder. You could even try making your own powder with equal parts:
- Xylitol, a natural sweetener that neutralizes pH and prevents bacteria from sticking to teeth
- Baking soda, which will exfoliate your teeth to prevent plaque from forming
- Bentonite clay, which contains calcium and is therefore capable of remineralizing your enamel
If you replace the clay with distilled water and a few leaves-worth of aloe vera gel, you’ll get an excellent mouthwash solution too. At that point, you’ll just need a suitable replacement for plastic floss. We recommend getting silk floss or even a water flossing device.
Skincare, Haircare, and Other Personal Hygiene Products
Having brushed our teeth, let’s move on to other aspects of our hygiene routines. Like most cleaning products, you could always make your own hair and body wash. Alternatively, you can stick to products that come in cardboard or glass packaging.
Luckily, most stores now sell excellent bar soap shampoos and body washes that won’t strip your skin and hair of their natural oils. Likewise, deodorants can also be found in more sustainable packaging. But for now, let’s get back to the shower.
If you enjoy exfoliation, you should look into finding an organic loofah. You can even plant your own and get enough sponges to use everywhere around your home. After all, organic loofahs can also be used for washing dishes and cleaning various other surfaces.
In any case, after exfoliating, you might want to shave. Rather than reaching for the pack of plastic razors the next time you’re at ULTA, save up for a stainless steel safety razor. And hey, if you happen to nick yourself, make sure you use compostable bamboo bandaids! On top of that, you could also go looking for:
- Menstrual cups, reusable and washable pads, or period undies
- Cloth diapers instead of regular ones
- Refillable makeup brands
- Compostable ear swabs or reusable ear picks
But with all that being said, we have to leave the bathroom at some point. So let’s see what’s for breakfast!
Food and Drink Prep Substitutes
Whether you’re in your kitchen or on the go, preparing and consuming food shouldn’t produce unnecessary waste. Luckily, advocates of sustainable living have already found ways to replace most of the wasteful items we use every day, all the way to zero waste vitamins.
For example, did you know that non-stick Teflon pans are bad for you? At least, that was discovered about the ones made before 2013. You were supposed to replace them pretty frequently — though most people didn’t know that. Needless to say, a lot of people who found out quickly transitioned to using ceramic or cast iron cookware.
On the other hand, if you’re keen to bake something instead, you could reduce waste accumulation by using:
- Silicone baking mats instead of aluminum foil
- Silicone cupcake liners instead of paper ones
Instead of plastic cooking and eating utensils, go for bamboo cutlery. And if you want to pack your lunch to go, we recommend using metal containers instead of plastic ones. Alternatively, you could use glass containers to put things away in the fridge — just for the sake of visibility.
If you need to take a beverage on the go, use glass or steel water bottles or thermoses. Your local coffee place will accommodate you if you show up with either of those. You could even come in with a reusable bamboo travel mug. And, if you like using straws, you should switch to paper, steel, or silicone ones.
General Shopping Swaps
When it comes to your weekly grocery run, there are several ways to make it more sustainable. For one, you should always buy from local businesses whenever possible. Instead of buying your produce at the supermarket, get it from the local farmer’s market. Additionally, you should carry cotton totes and mesh produce bags with you wherever you go.
As for the rest of your shopping list, we do have other tips that should reduce the amount of waste you take on. For example, you could get:
- Reusable filters for your coffee machine
- Cloth handkerchiefs and rags to replace paper towels
- Compostable trash bags or at least ones that are made of recycled plastic
- A rechargeable electric lighter instead of matches (if you use them often)
- Rechargeable batteries (and a charging station)
Ultimately, the items we have listed here should only just take care of the tip of the trash island we keep building upon. Still, they’re as good of a place as any to start minimizing our impact. And hopefully, they will make you think about other everyday habits that could use some Zero Waste perspective.