Zero Waste Lifestyle

Going zero waste is like going down the rabbit hole.

The things you use to buy or throw away without thought to the environment becomes a mission to find a sustainable solution.

Here’s a list of over 93+ zero-waste swaps inspired from Bea Johnson’s “Zero Waste Home” book as well as many popular zero-waste blogs.

Each zero to low waste swap is organized by sections:

  • Shopping & Buying Food
  • Eating Out & Entertainment
  • Kitchen & Cooking
  • Bathroom & Toiletries
  • Cleaning & Laundry
  • Kids & Toys
  • Pets

This post contains affiliate links to help our readers find the best products.

If you’re new to this way of living, please don’t feel like you have to implement everything straight away.

Take one small step at a time and only the steps you’re comfortable with.

This could mean choosing sustainable swaps that fit your lifestyle, your budget and where you’re at in your journey. 

Choose 1-2 swaps per month and once they become part of your routine, come back to this post and implement more swaps 🙂

Zero Waste Shopping & Buying Food Swaps

  • Visit your local bakeries, butchers, delicatessens, fishmonger’s and grocery stores to see what they have available unpackaged. 
  • Locate bulk stores and bulk bins in your area – Bea Johnson from The Zero Waste Home has a mobile website for finding shops worldwide that offer products without packaging here.
  • Shop at farmer’s markets if possible –  your veggies and fruits will be free from plastic packaging/stickers and you’ll support local farmers.
  • Carry reusable shopping bags instead of plastic bags – leave a few in your car and pop a collapsible shopping bag in your handbag.
  • Use natural cotton mesh produce bags to hold loose fruits and vegetable produce – you can buy or make your own produce bags with sheer curtain fabric.
  • Buy fresh meat or fish with glass containers that have reusable plastic lids – Some butchers and fishmongers will accept your own containers when you have the tare weight labeled on them (ask nicely).
  • If you eat cheese every day, buy a 5- pound wheel of cheese and divide it among friends and family.
  • Buy fresh bread rolls from the local bakery using a cotton or linen bread bag – if you have time, bake your own bread in a loaf pan or with a bread machine.
  • Use glass jar wecks or plastic bottles for fresh milk or yogurt which can be found at farmers markets, health food stores, market stalls, and even some supermarkets.
  • Old plastic takeaway containers work well for deli items, cakes or ready-made food (try not to keep hot foods in plastic containers too long as they leach chemicals)
  • Collect cloth bags, jars of different sizes, bottles, and containers and carry them in your reusable shopping bags – you can find these in thrift stores and markets.
  • If you’re shopping at supermarkets, look for items with glass or cardboard packaging so that you can reuse the glass jar or compost the cardboard.
  • If you have to buy food that comes in plastic packaging like frozen veggies, buy in bulk and bags that have zip lock so that you can wash the bag and re-use the bag again (yes I do this).
  • Buy pre-loved clothing and shoes at thrift stores, craigslist, eBay and second-hand market places – Get creative, alter, modify and upcycle old clothing with the latest fashion trends. 
    • Tip: before heading out to thrift stores, I look at my favorite fashion brands and their online catalog. I snap a picture of it and head to the thrift store looking for similar items that I can modify to suit the latest styles.
  • Only buy what you need – sounds simple but it’s hard to resist a sale when you see one, chances are you don’t need it and it will only take up space in your house.

Zero Waste Eating Out & Entertainment Swaps

  • Reusable stainless steel water bottle – learn to love tap water, it’s free and carry your water bottle everywhere with you instead of buying plastic water bottles.
  • Reusable coffee mug – love takeaway coffee? Pop a reusable mug like the hydro flask in your handbag and have the cafe fill that up instead of disposable coffee cups.
  • Bring your own containers for leftovers when dining out instead of using plastic containers.
  • Make handkerchief stylish again instead of using tissue paper – there’s plenty of clean hankies at the second-hand thrift stores or simply make your own out of old t-shirts. 
  • Carry reusable utensils and say no to plastic cutlery – I carry a foldable stainless steel spork in my handbag however there’s the option of a bamboo travel utensil set too.
  • Reusable stainless steel straws instead of plastic straws – I don’t use straws but for those who do, these stainless steel straws come with a tiny brush to help you clean inside the straw.
  • Cotton cloth napkins instead of paper napkins – just throw them in the laundry and reuse again.
  • Make your own chips, snacks and protein bars – most snacks come packaged in plastic, you can make quick and healthy chips and protein bars with this delicious ebook – Healthy Snacks to Go
  • When traveling on the plane, bring your own food and water bottle – pack fruit, sandwiches and snacks in your own lunch box containers like lunchbots instead of eating plastic-packaged food. You can bring your empty water bottle and refill it once you’ve passed airport security.
  • Online invitations instead of card invitations – I know card invitations look pretty but why not send online invitations via email or Facebook instead? it saves trees and reduces waste. If you really have to, opt for recycled paper.
  • Second-hand plates and cups for parties instead of plastic – you can get them really cheap at second-hand stores and just store them in a spare cabinet for the next party you have.
  • For party decorations – use natural decorations like flowers and foliage or visit second-hand stores and look for party decorations as a low waste option. 
  • For party food – make your own finger foods for large parties or enlist help by posting on your local Facebook noticeboard and have someone make finger food for you if you don’t have time. 
  • For presents – think of gifting experiences like restaurant vouchers, spa, and massages, concert tickets, gifts made by hand from, audiobooks from audible or quality second-hand items.

Zero Waste Kitchen & Cooking Swaps

  • Stainless steel or cast iron pans – avoid non-stick cookware, they’re coated with Teflon and give off toxic chemicals when heated. Check second-hand stores, garage sales or flea markets.
  • Stainless steel crockpot or slow cooker – check second-hand stores, garage sales or flea markets. They are great for making food in bulk and simplifying mealtime.
  • Glass or mason jars for food storage – Check second-hand stores or wash out old pickled glass jars and check out this post for reusing old glass jars.
  • Glass measuring cup – these are big glass cups have the red line marking on it for cup measurement.
  • Stainless Steel French Press or Moka Pot for making fresh coffee.

Click on the images below to view customer reviews for each product:

  • A tea infuser or mesh strainer instead of tea bags – some tea bags contain fibers that are not compostable. Buy loose leaf tea at bulk bins and use a tea strainer
  • Wooden cooking utensils – they’re easy on stainless steel pots and pans and environmentally friendly.
  • Hardwood or bamboo cutting board – Wood boards are soft on knives and won’t harbor bacteria instead of plastic chopping boards.
  • Weck glass jars for holding milk or freshly squeezed juice.
  • Oven safe glass food containers – store food, microwave and bake in them as well.
  • Use beeswax wax wraps instead of plastic cling wrap – great for storing cheese, making sandwich bags and fermenting.
  • Silicone reusable food bag – reusable silicone storage bag that can cook, bake, microwave and freeze food.

Click on the images below to view customer reviews for each product:

  • Compost – If there is only ONE thing I recommend out of this list, it’s composting. Compost your food scraps and waste instead of throwing them in the garbage bin – your garbage bin will be light, less dirty because it’s just full of dry items.
    • I have a small kitchen compost bin and when that’s full, I transfer it to my backyard compost bin.
    • You can buy large compost bins at the hardware store or use a big trash can as your backyard compost bin to feed your veggie garden.
    • If you don’t have a veggie garden, you can still compost food scraps by donating it to schools, councils or your neighbor.

Click on the images below to view customer reviews for each product:

  • Keep the tops of carrots, onions, celery, zucchini, fennel, cabbage, pumpkin and potato skins or any vegetable bits in an old plastic container – pop them in the freezer and make vegetable stock in winter or relish in summer.
  • Carry lunches in stainless steel containers or cloth bags – a few good examples of lunch boxes are LunchBots and EcoLunchbox containers. These stainless steel containers will leak if you have liquids so look for the lunch boxes that have separate smaller containers with silicone lids if you intend on packing condiments or soups. 
  • Silicone baking mat instead of baking/parchment paper – You can compost parchment paper however a silicone baking mat cuts down on waste. If you want to completely go waste-free, simply smear olive oil on the baking tray and wash!
  • Castile bar soap in bulk to use as a dish and hand cleaner (add some essential oils in like sweet orange or lemon if you like natural fragrances).
  • Freezing food is perfectly fine in glass, stainless steel, and old plastic containers – there is no need to put them in plastic bags.
  • Silicone popsicle molds – we love eating homemade protein ice cream and store them in popsicle silicone molds. 

Click on the images below to view customer reviews for each product:

Zero Waste Bathroom & Toiletries Swaps

  • Compostable bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic toothbrush – Just a bit of caution here as some bristles are made out of nylon or BPA-free polymer and only the handles can be composted.
  • Silk dental floss or lace instead of regular nylon plastic floss – flossing is a must along with good oral hygiene.  
  • Electronic water flosser – if you don’t like regular flossing, then you might like the Water Pik which uses jets water between your teeth and removes food particles.
  • Natural bristle bath brush or organic loofah instead of plastic loofah for body exfoliation.
  • Bamboo hairbrush or comb instead of plastic combs – I love using bamboo brushes because they help condition your hair by distributing your hair’s natural oils down the hair shaft especially when you go the “no-poo” route.
  • Castile bar soap in bulk instead of liquid hand wash (that comes in plastic bottles) can be used with essential oils for hand wash.

Click on the images below to view customer reviews for each product:

  • Handheld Bidet – my other half calls this a “bum gun” because it’s like a water spray gun that cleans your private parts. So instead of wiping bacteria off using loads of toilet paper, you spray first to wash then wipe which makes it a great way of reducing toilet paper usage.
  • Use 100% recycled and unbleached toilet paper that is individually wrapped in paper – Pure Planet offers tree-free and plastic-free toilet paper and comes in a cardboard box instead of plastic packaging.
  • Stainless steel safety razor instead of disposable plastic razors – plastic razors are used only a few times and aren’t usually recyclable.
  • Refill your bottles with bulk shampoo and conditioner – either buy shampoo in bulk or locate a local health store that allows you to return empty bottles and refill them. If you have short hair, the “no-poo” option can work well (although check whether you have soft or hard water in your area as it makes a massive difference).
  • Use Castile bar soap instead of liquid soap – I know it’s repeated again but castile bar soap can be used as a body and face cleanser too!
  • Reusable menstrual cup instead of tampons – Totally converted to these, you get 12 hours of protection and sleeping with a menstrual cup instead of a thick pad makes such a difference.
  • Period undies instead of pads – I can’t live without these too at that ‘time’ of the month. Period undies absorb your period, it’s washable and reusable (handwash only) and is much more sustainable than single-use disposable pads.
  • Cotton balls or reusable stainless steel pick instead of cotton buds or q-tips – just squeeze the cotton balls and poke them in your ear, it gets the job done without the plastic that comes with q-tips.
  • DIY deodorant or buy crystal deodorant rock – you can make your own deodorant with baking soda mixed with a few drops of tea tree oil and dab it to your underarms. I also use a crystal deodorant rock which is made of natural mineral salts which are aluminum and fragrance free. 
  • Reusable makeup remover pads – you can use reusable cotton rounds to remove makeup and throw them in the laundry to reuse again.
  • Cotton face cloth instead of facial wipes – I don’t really wear much makeup so a small cotton cloth, water, and some soap are all I need to clean my face.  

Click on the images below to view customer reviews for each product:

  • Jojoba oil or hemp oil as a moisturizer – Jojoba is my go-to moisturizer, it’s natural, absorbs to the skin quickly and non-pore clogging. Look for a low comedogenic oil that doesn’t clog your pores if you’re prone to acne. They are available at most bulk stores or in glass packaging.
  • Apple cider toner instead of store-bought toner that comes in plastic bottles – The acetic and malic acids of apple help dissolve and remove dead skin. Simply mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 1 part water in a small glass bottle, then use a piece of cotton cloth to wipe the toner over your face avoiding the eye area. 
  • Essential oil mixes instead of perfume – most perfumes are a mixture of fragrance oils in an alcohol base. This book is a great guide to making perfumes, skincare and cleaning products.

Zero Waste Cleaning & Laundry Swaps

  • Cut up old t-shirts and cotton rags for cleaning – throw them in the washing machine to clean and reuse again.
  • Citrus vinegar spray for multi-purpose cleaning spray – I use mandarin or orange peels, soak them in vinegar and distilled water then transfer it to an empty spray bottle. 
  • Dishwashing powder instead of tablets – The ingredients are incredibly simple, check out this post from Greenify Me on how to make your own dishwashing detergent to load into the dishwashing machine.
  • Natural fiber bristle brush to clean pots and pans instead of plastic scrubs.
  • Reusable lint remover – Ditch the adhesive plastic roller lint remover, they simply create more plastic waste. P.S. you can also compost your dryer lint so add them to the compost bin.

Zero Waste Kids & Toys Swaps

  • Bassinets / Cots / Change tables / Baby Carriers can all be sourced second hand via Gumtree, Craigslist or Facebook buy, sell and swap group – many are well maintained, clean and in good condition.
  • Use bamboo toddler bowls instead of those cartoony plastic bowls to serve snacks to little kids.
  • Reusable cloth wipes instead of commercial baby wipes – These can be bought online or second hand. You can make ready-made wet wipes with plain old clean water and soap.
modern cloth nappies (MCNs)
modern cloth nappies (MCNs)
  • Toys can be sourced second hand via Gumtree, Craigslist or Facebook buy, sell and swap groups – the world doesn’t need another plastic car or doll. You can satisfy a child’s curiosity with dress-ups, puzzles, scooters, videos, cooking, computer games, books and join toy libraries.

Zero Waste Pets Swaps

  • Biodegradable dog poop bags instead of plastic bags – look for ones made out of cornstarch, they’re biodegradable and compostable.  
  • Set up a dog or cat waste-only composting bin – Don’t throw your poop bags or cat litter in the regular trash, they’ll only end up in landfill. The Doggie Dooley allows you to compost your pet waste and you can use them on decorative gardens (don’t use pet compost on edible plants).
  • Buy dog food in bulk – you can buy dog food in 42 – 40Lb bags and whilst they do come packaged in plastic bags, look for recyclable bags.
  • Buy cat food in bulk – there are many pet stores selling cat food in bulk sometimes without packaging. Just take your own container to the store and fill up.
  • Dog bones can be purchased from the local butcher as dog treats. Many cats love fish in which you can purchase from your local fishmonger however, it’s not ideal for daily feeding.
  • For dog and cat toys, the second-hand market has many low waste options. If you have a dog, long walks will give them all the stimulation they need. Alternatively, shop for natural fiber toys like SPOT Ethical Hemp Dog Toy.
  • Dog soap bar instead of dog shampoo bottles – one bar of dog soap is equivalent to over 600ml of liquid dog shampoo. 

If you live in Australia, the Biome store has everything you need in one place:

earth macros
  • For cat litter – use sawdust, mulch or dirt as your cat litter. You can get these items from your local landscaping store or from the local council. To minimize odors, add some baking to reduce the smell.

As with anything, some of the above swaps are more expensive while others are cheap or free. Invest in quality items and obtain second-hand items when possible.

This also depends on where you live and what resources you have available to you.

If something is unattainable for you, that’s fine – do whatever works for you. 

Don’t compare yourself to others and be proud of your efforts to reduce waste no matter how tiny they are 🙂

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Over 93+ Zero Waste Swaps For A Zero Waste Lifestyle
Over 93+ Zero Waste Swaps For A Zero Waste Lifestyle