Zero Waste Swaps For Common Single Use Items

by | Jul 23, 2018 | Home Goods, Sustainable Packaging, Zero Waste

Why does zero waste matter? A zero waste approach helps to conserve natural resources and reduces pollution from extraction, manufacturing and disposal. This ultimate list of zero waste swaps can help you live a less impactful lifestyle without sacrificing the things you love. Starting with the top four worst offenders:


According to the National Parks Service, Americans use 500 million drinking straws every day. To put that in perspective, that would fill over 125 school buses with straws every day – that’s 46,400 school buses every year. There are eco-friendly options including glass (my favorite), stainless steel, bamboo, silicone, and paper (not my recommended choice, but better for parties if you need a mass quantity rather than plastic straws).


It is said, that on average we only recycle one plastic bag for every 200 we use. Each year, it is estimated that 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute! Unfortunately billions end up as litter each year. Swap to a reusable bag. For produce, organic cotton or muslin bags are perfect. For shopping use totes that you can store in you car, there are even foldable shopping bags to keep things compact. The slasher bag is a great choice to swap out zip lock baggies for snacks, sandwiches, and other food.


Around the globe, 1 million plastic bottles are bought every minute – that’s nearly 20,000 every second. Every day, people in the U.S. throw away more than 60 million plastic water bottles, most of which end up in landfills or as litter in America’s streets, parks and waterways. Reusable water bottles like these, the BKR or Klean Kanteen, are just two of the many eco-friendly swaps available. There are even water bottles designed to fold like the QUE.


Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day or equivalent to 146 billion cups of coffee per year, making the United States the leading consumer of coffee in the world. 25 billion of those coffee cups are thrown away every year. If you don’t make your own coffee at home, bring your own to-go reusable coffee mug. I like the Keep Cup, or this tall ceramic travel mug with a dual purpose – it contains a tea infuser for those who like their tea on the go.


Mason jars have a plethora of uses, including drinkware, food storage, general storage, planters, DIY projects, and so on.

Swap out your plastic wrap or aluminum foil for reusables bees wrap. These are made of organic cotton, sustainably harvested beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin. They are washable and compostable.

Compartment food storage containers for easy meal prep. These are air tight, leak proof, and come with a BPA-free lid. They are microwave, oven (up to 450°F), freezer, & dishwasher safe.

To-go utensils for meals on the road, in the office, ect.

Another food storage option. These are also easy to bring with you on the go to take home leftovers.

Portable, flexible silicone wine glasses are perfect for backyard parties because they are unbreakable. These are dishwasher safe & stain-proof.

This super cute tea steep eliminates the need for tea bags. It comes in other cute animals!

These silicone baking cups replace disposable paper or aluminum cupcake liners.

Double walled sweatless stainless steel cups are great for the outdoors. They are labeled so you will always know who’s is who’s.

Like the reusable produce bags, the canvas bread bag is a beautiful option to carry with you on your trip to the grocery store. It is specifically made for bread and available in other sizes for different types.

A nostalgic way to take your lunch on tho go. The cute canvas lunch bags are available in multiple color options.

For the beer lovers. This was made for a trip to the local pub or grocer for fresh craft beer.

Make your own coffee drinks at home and save money!

Store a variety of fresh berries from your local farmers market in these cute ceramic baskets. An alternative to purchasing berries from the store packaged in plastic containers.

Ditch the popcorn bags and make your own on the stove top. Almost all microwave popcorn varieties come in wasteful bags lined with perfluorooctanoic acid – a toxic chemical that can stay in the environment and our bodies for long periods of time and is linked to numerous health hazards, even being labeled a carcinogen.

Instead of reaching for a napkin or paper towel, grab a washable hanker chief to wipe away messes. These are easy to take with you anywhere.

Reusable microfiber cleaning towels are ultra soft, non-abrasive cloths that will not scratch surfaces. They clean with or without chemical cleaners and leave link & streak free results.

A reusable and durable scrubbing wand for cleaning dishes.

Replace kitchen sponges with this stiff but flexible pot brush. The union fibers are designed to handle heavy duty cleaning; ideal for scrubbing out stains on a variety of surfaces.

A natural washing powder with powerful cleaning capabilities. It is packaged in a glass jar that can be repurposed or recycled.

Swap out dryer sheets caked with chemicals for a wool dryer ball. Drop a few essential oils of your choice for your desired scent.

Go back in time and ditch the plastic pen for a fountain pen. Use with INK that comes in a recyclable glass bottle.

A plastic-free alternative to tape. These versatile paper tape cuts can be used for craft projects, gift-wrapping or to safely seal the parcels you are mailing out.

There are over 7 billion people in the world, most of which brush their teeth with a typical plastic toothbrush. Use a bamboo toothbrush instead. Olas toothbrushes are biodegradable and come in a recyclable cardboard box.

Effective in deep cleaning and leaves no waste behind like conventional floss.

The silk is biodegradable and comes in a refillable glass & stainless steel container. A good option for traveling too.

A dentist-formulated mouth rinse that is free of alcohol, fluoride, artificial colors and other harmful additives. It is packaged in a glass bottle.

Cotton swabs can actually be hazardous to ear health. However if you are someone with excessive wax build up, you may need something to clean out those ears from time to time. This stainless steel ear pick is an excellent zero waste option.

Over 2 billion disposable razors and blades are thrown away in the U.S. each year. Swap to a safety razor with replaceable stainless steel blades. I prefer this adjustable one!

Swap out cotton balls and makeup wipes for these reusable pads. Perfect for makeup and nail polish removal, and applying your favorite toner.

Using bar soap eliminates unnecessary packaging. This one is completely biodegradable and vegetable-based for a gentle and effective soap; ideal for washing the body and hair.

The average woman throws away 250 to 300 pounds of “pads, plugs, and applicators” in her lifetime. A menstrual cup like this one completely eliminates any waste over the course of a period.

Another zero waste option if you are less comfortable with a cup during your period. These washable cotton pads are easy to use and come in a variety of sizes.

One more zero waste period option. These period panties from She Thinx come in several varieties including a thong. They are made with a patented 4-layer technology for ultimate protection.

Toilet paper made without trees. They do not use any inks, dyes or scents. Also, the TP helps build toilets for people who need them.

Highly recommended by doctors, bidets are considered far more hygienic than conventional toilet paper. This one is easy to install and has adjustable settings.

If you are looking for zero waste make up, check out my SUSTAINABLY PACKAGED CLEAN COSMETICS post.


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