Holiday shopping can be exhausting — for both you and your bank account. So, with another season of gift-giving merriment behind us, is it time to consider switching to — or at least dabbling in — a zero waste lifestyle? Not only will it mean saving time and money — especially important given the escalating cost of living — but you’ll be helping the planet, too. In that spirit, consider this an anti-shopping list of sorts — a helpful rundown of 11 things you won’t have to worry about buying once you’ve embraced zero waste living.
1. Single-use plastic water bottles
When you move to a more zero waste lifestyle, you’ll be bidding a long overdue goodbye to single-use water bottles. In the US alone, 35 billion plastic water bottles get thrown out every year. So, the more people switch to zero waste — or simply cut out single-use water bottles — the greater the positive impact it has on the planet. Just swap out those pesky bottles out with a stainless-steel water bottle to carry around and fill up on the go. You can also invest in a water filter and jug for your home if the tap water in your area is less than acceptable.
2. Liquid detergent
Did you know liquid laundry detergents, in a non-concentrated form, are 60 to 90 percent water? That means, you’re lugging around a heavy plastic jug of pricey detergent that is almost entirely water. What a waste when you can use eco-friendly laundry strips and avoid the bulk, unnecessary water waste (your clothes get washed in water already), and harmful chemicals.
3. Paper towels
Paper towels cannot be recycled once they’ve been soiled. You could compost them, but many paper products, towels included, contain harmful ingredients such as chlorine bleach and even formaldehyde. So, instead of purchasing paper towels, try switching to a reusable option — from cloth to “paperless” towel rolls. Otherwise, you can also cut up old T-shirts or linen and use those instead. Just wash them when with your sustainable laundry strips once they’ve gotten dirty. It’s as easy as that.
4. Plastic sponges
Plastic sponges, while reusable, are quickly thrown in the trash — making them far from eco-friendly. Instead, a natural loofah is the most environmental pick for scrubbing your dishes. Many people don’t know that loofah is not only 100% natural, but it’s an actual plant from the cucumber family! Therefore it’s one of the best purchases you can make when going zero waste.
5. Plastic wrap
Who needs to use plastic wrap when there are much better alternatives? Is it just us or is ripping plastic wrap from the edge of the container both difficult and annoying? Luckily, when you switch to zero waste, you won’t have to buy it anymore. Instead, you can use beeswax wrap. It clings well, is reusable, and can be composted at the end of its lifecycle.
6. Plastic shower scrubs
Do you use those bright colored shower loofahs? Well, then it’s time to switch to the real thing. Instead of using plastic, which can fill with dirty dead skin cells and bacteria after just a few uses, use a reusable washcloth or massage your skin with your hands instead. You’ll spread fewer bacteria and have cleaner skin as a result. If you still prefer to use a loofah, just switch to a natural one and allow it to dry out.
7. Disposable pens
Disposable pens are a relatively new concept, like many of the items on this list. They were only rolled out in the 1950s. Before that, people filled ink in their pens themselves and kept them for years to come. You can do the same when you switch to zero waste. Just buy a decent refillable ink pen and you’ll be well on your way to a more sustainable lifestyle. Whether you want a retractable style or a sleek fountain pen, there are so many fantastic options. Plus, it’s so easy to refill the ink, your transition from low-quality, disposable pens will be wonderfully smooth.
8. Plastic toothbrushes
Plastic is out and bamboo is in! Ditch the plastic that winds up in landfills or the ocean and switch to biodegradable and compostable bamboo toothbrushes. You can order them easily online or check out a pharmacy or eco-friendly shop in your area.
9. Scent boosters, air fresheners
Typical air fresheners and scent boosters are filled with toxic chemicals. They get into your air space, give you a headache, and can cause harmful reactions. You can make a DIY room spray, use diffusers, natural incense, or eco-friendly candles instead. These will eliminate synthetic fragrances and harmful air pollution from clogging up your home space.
Then, if you want your laundry to get a nice scent boost in the dryer, you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to some wool dryer balls; lavender, chamomile, or sandalwood essential oils are all great for this.
10. Sanitary pads
Rather than having to buy menstrual products every month, switch to the cup or reusable pads/period panties. In North America alone, some 20 billion sanitary napkins, tampons, and plastic applicators go to landfills annually. You’ll be cutting down on waste and you’ll be saving a lot of money along the way. Research suggests that those who switch to the cup can save 93% compared to buying tampons. That’s impressive. However, if you prefer to use pads, there are numerous options for reusable pads that work well and cut down on waste significantly.
11. Disposable razors
This is another easy switch! Instead of buying those plastic disposable razors that work for a few shaves before going dull, switch to a quality safety razor. You’ll save money and get a cleaner shave along the way.
Looking for more eco-friendly living inspiration? Check out these tips for an eco-friendly laundry room!