ZERO WASTE ALTERNATIVES
how to replace single-use items with sustainable, long lasting alternatives
reusable water bottle
vs plastic water bottles
Carrying around a reusable water bottle is probably one of the easiest things you can do to cut down on your waste. They're really easy to come by and you'll save money when you stop buying bottled water, while helping the environment! Luckily, in Minneapolis, MN, we have clean and safe drinking water from the tap.
This photo is me filling up my water bottle in Rome from one of the hundreds of water wells in the city, which provide sparkly clean drinking water!
vs plastic cutlery
Plastic cutlery is pure evil because you can only use it once and it cannot be recycled, thus piling up in landfills and killing marine life. Using reusable cutlery is a great alternative when on the go, and stylish too! To-go Ware is a great company that sells bamboo cutlery in recycled plastic fiber pouches. You can also just wrap regular silverware from home in a rag or towel and carry it with you, for a more cost friendly alternative.
vs plastic bags
The plastic bag is another single-use plastic that does more harm than good. Plastic bags alone kill 100,000 marine animals from entanglement to consumption, annually. Bringing your own bag with you wherever you go is a great way to help the environment, reduce your waste, and save lives! Consider purchasing a 100% cotton bag or buy some second-hand for super cheap!
You can find reusbalebags almost anywhere, especially at healthfood stores. Chicobags, for example is a great reusable bag brand. But you can also make your old from old T-shirts!
Here's a little video I found on youtube that shows you how to do this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_O33Wq_uz6Y
vs plastic straws
Plastic straws are one of the most harmful inventions to marine life. By eliminating this plastic you can save hundreds of lives! And when you're at a bar or restaurant and order a drink, remember to say, "No straw, please!" You can switch to a stainless-steel and/or glass straw, or ditch them all together.
reusable coffee cup
vs disposable coffee cup
Although coffee cups appear to be made of paper, they are actually lined with plastic on the inside. This makes them non-recyclable! :( 500 billion coffee cups are disposed of annually which end up in landfills and oceans. Even now, with the new introduction of the compostable coffee cup, it is still taking up unnecessary resources to produce them, and they will only biodegrade in composting facilities, NOT in nature! By eliminating disposables you can help out the environment and also save a little on the side from discounts that some cafes offer from bringing your own cup! #byoc You can also use a mason jar, which I do often, or find an insulated coffee cup at a second-hand shop.
vs plastic toothbrush
Every single toothbrush ever used still exists. Plastic toothbrushes are thrown away after about 3 month's use, while bamboo toothbrushes are completely biodegradable, except the bristles, which can be recycled at certain recycling facilities. We use pliers to remove the bristles and collect them in a large container at home, and throw the toothbrush handle in the compost. But they can also be used for labels herbs in your garden! Once we fill up our container of bristles, which will probably be YEARS from now, we will take them to our local recycling facility. If you don't want to remove the bristles, simply collect your old toothbrushes in a bin and use them for cleaning!
A great and extremely affordable toothbrush brand is Brush with Bamboo.
reusable cotton rounds
vs disposable cotton rounds/balls/wipes
Disposable cotton balls seem pretty innocent in the midst of all of the world's disposables, but they aren't the sustainable option. They're used once and thrown away- not to mention that they come in a plastic bag. Investing in reusable cotton rounds is a great idea because not only are you cutting down on your waste, but you're helping out small businesses, too! You could also even just use a face towel to remove makeup, as well.
We get our cotton rounds from here.
towels and rags
vs paper towels
Paper towels may not last forever like plastic, but when sent to landfills they can take ages to decompose due to the poor conditions. Their production is also a waste of natural resources and they're usually sold wrapped in plastic. Most contain bleach and other chemicals that are toxic and can get on your food. Save your health, the environment, and money by cleaning with towels and rags laying around the house! You can even make some out of old clothes.
underwear & cotton pads
vs disposable pads and tampons
The average menstruator throws away 250-300 pounds of pads and tampons throughout their lifetime. These products also contain harmful chemicals that may cause cancer, infections, and attract bacteria that make the period "smell". Not to mention, period products are extremely expensive.
The average menstruator will spend $5,600 on their period over their lifetime. It is a good idea to invest in a menstrual cup because not only are they comfortable, but you can wear them throughout the whole day, don't smell, and will last a very, very long time. If you aren't comfortable with putting something inside you, you can also look to reusable, organic cotton pads.
compostable silk floss
vs disposable plastic floss
Silk dental floss is biodegradable while plastic dental floss lasts forever. Not only is this harmful to the environment, but it also affects and kills marine life by entangling around their necks. Get Dental Lace here!
vs plastic packaged liquid soap
Just like us, bar soap comes completely naked! :) And once you've used it up, its gone. No packaging to recycle. It's also very easy to find all natural, cruelty free soap when it's in bar form!
Make sure to look for either package free or paper packaged soap. Some great places to find it naked are at health food stores and co-ops, or small businesses.
We are currently using Kiss My Face facial bar soap which comes wrapped in paper but is specifically for your face and has no palm oil! You can find that brand almost anywhere, but especially at health food stores, like Whole Foods, etc.
stainless steel safety razor
vs disposable razors
Obviously, plastic razors are non-recyclable. Steel safety razors are made of 100% steel and you can switch out the blades by recycling them at a recycling facility or saving them to send back to the company you bought the razor from. You can find yours from Leaf Shave, Amazon or health food stores.
wool dryer balls
vs dryer sheets
Wool dryer balls are a great alternative over dryer sheets. Dryer sheets contain a lot of harmful chemicals and are extremely wasteful. Dryer balls can be used over and over again and you can even add essential oils to them for an extra scent to your clothes!
reusable produce bags
vs plastic produce bags
Just like plastic bags, plastic produce bags are a one-time use plastic and damage the environment. You can usually opt for no bag at all because most produce comes in its own natural packaging anyway! But for the numerous produce you can invest in some ethically made produce bags and even make them out of old clothes and pillowcases as well. Some places to find them are Amazon, EarthHero, and if you want to support small businesses, Etsy.
biodegradable phone case
vs plastic phone cases
It's better to use what you already have rather than buying something new, but if your phone case breaks, you have some options: you can buy one second hand (the best option), or you can look into getting a biodegradable phone case, like a Pela case. Most phone cases are made of plastic or silicone (will last forever) so these are a good alternative. They're made of plants and will decompose once they've lived their lives. You could also go case-free, but do so at your own risk. ;)
vs plastic wrapped packages
Buying (preferably recycled) toilet paper individually wrapped in paper is a great way to cut down on unnecessary plastic packaging. You can also save money if you order it from an office store!
vs plastic loofa
Plastic loofas need to be replaced every three months or so which creates a lot of waste over the years. Switch to a more eco-friendly alternative like plant-based washcloths or natural loofas, that you can compost after their full use. You can even grow them yourself! You can find them at health food stores, co-ops and Etsy.
wax food wraps
vs plastic wrap
Plastic wrap is another extremely wasteful item that our parents love and is only used once and thrown away. Once thrown away, it'll go somewhere else and sit there forever, polluting the soil or killing an animal that mistakes it for a jellyfish. Make the switch to biodegradable food wraps or use tupperware instead! We are currently using BeesWrap, which does contain beeswax, but there are other food wrap options that do not. You can find them at EarthHero.
cotton hair ties
vs plastic hair ties
Plastic hair ties wrapped in fabric are very cheap and often break so easily, that you find yourself buying a new pack the next month. They are littered in the streets and often cause a big issue for small animals who come across them and mistake them as food. Obviously, it's best to use the ones you have before buying new ones, but it's good to know that there are sustainable brands out there. Kooshoo offers organic cotton hair ties that you can find here.
natural dish brush
vs plastic sponges/brushes
Plastic sponges are obviously made of plastic and are thrown away at the end of their life, after about a month of use and cannot be recycled, which means they are constantly piling up in landfills and are there to stay. Natural washing brushes are plastic free and can be found at health food stores or online zero waste stores such as Zero Waste Store or Tare Market, which also has a physical store in Minneapolis, MN.
shampoo and conditioner bars
vs plastic packaged liquid shampoo & conditioner
Shampoo and conditioner bars are a great way to cut down on plastic consumption as shampoo containers have multiple different kinds of plastic in their making (container, straw, push top, cap). Make the switch to a shampoo bar from Zerowastestore! They sell the best shampoo and conditioner bars we have ever tried and are just as lathering as regular liquid shampoo. They are more expensive than your average bottle of shampoo, but they last longer and you can travel with them.
stasher silicone bags
vs plastic ziplock bags
Stasher Bags are made of food-grade silicone and are a great reusable replacement for the conventional plastic ziplock bag. These can be used for food storage, make-up, really anything you can fit inside them. They can also be microwaved, put in the freezer, oven, dishwasher and can even be boiled.
reusable tea bag
vs disposable tea bags
Did you know that almost all conventional tea bags are lined with plastic? That plastic releases toxins right into your drink, that leach out when in contact with heat. Not only are tea bags bad for your health, but are also horrible for the environment. Switch to a reusable tea bag or a stainless steel tea strainer. Reusable tea bags can be found on Etsy and the stainless steel tea strainers can be found on amazon, etsy or health food stores.