49 Items you can replace with Zero-Waste alternatives
My zero-waste journey continues this month. Rather excitingly today – on Earth Day no less! – I was asked to be a guest on BBC Radio 5Live on The Emma Barnett show! After the show, I thought I would share some zero waste alternatives to help others start their journey.
I was asked to come on, to discuss my zero-waste journey four months in. It was in response to Extinction Rebellion’s presence in London and the recent climate change marches.
Back in January, I wrote an article for Glamour magazine on my attempt at zero-waste. In response, today I want to share 49 items that I have replaced with zero-waste items.
Food & Drink Alternatives
- Fresh fruit and vegetables – unpackaged varieties are available in supermarkets but also local food markets and bulk buy stores
- Rice – rice of all varieties from arborio rice, paella rice, basmati, and brown rice in gravity bins at bulk buy stores. They would be a great addition to buy in bulk at regular supermarkets (hint hint Sainsbury’s/Tescos etc)
- Pasta – from penne to spaghetti, pasta is also available in gravity bins at bulk buy stores
- Nuts, including peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and many others for bulk buy alternatives
- Herbs – take your containers and refill your herbs at local bulk buy stores rather than throwing them away and replacing them with whole new pots
- Swap cereals with plastics in-layers for granola or natural oats, or go to your local bulk-buy store and see what they have in store
- Eggs – take an empty carton and refill it with eggs at bulk buy stores or at your local farmers’ market/shop
- Bread in bags – go back to the good old days of buying a fresh loaf from the bakers or at your local supermarket, just take your own paper or cotton container rather than get the bread in plastic bags as offered
- Packaged meat – similarly to bread you can buy meat and store it in your own reusable containers, from the butchers
- Packaged cheese – many a local butcher has a cheesemonger stall as well. Alternatively, you can see if your local supermarket or farmers market has a cheese stall as well.
- Oil – stop purchasing your oils in plastic bottles and find a bulk store that will allow you to re-stock in your own containers
- Teabags – stop using tea bags and go back to infusing your tea using natural tea leaves
- Instant coffee -not that it’s my favourite drink in the world but stop purchasing tubs of instant coffee or bags of ground coffee from Starbucks and purchase your own hand grinder. The roasted coffee can be sourced at local bulk buy stores and online in biodegradable packaging. Swap branded plastic-contained chocolate for bulk buy chocolate like chocolate buttons at bulk buy stores
- Cartons of juice without plastic tops – I love my Tropicana orange juice but it has a plastic top so I now buy saver varieties in cut-open cartons
- Cartons of milk – swap cartons with plastic lids for glass bottles of milk. My parents are very good at this. And I have found oat milk alternatives in glass bottles at my local bulk buy store which I really like
- Washing up liquid – when you finish a bottle (be it a plastic one or a glass one) find your local bulk buy shop to re-stock
- Surface cleaner – you don’t need a million different products to keep your living areas clean, nor do you need a branded one you simply need some vinegar and hot water (and maybe some essential oils)
- Plastic dish scrubber – we forget our dish scrubbers and our sponges have plastic in them, swap them for a durable biodegradable wooden scrubber instead
- Kitchen roll – Who Gives a Crap is an amazing company that seel biodegradable kitchen roll so that when you dispose of it you’re not clogging up the landfill in any way
- Laundry tabs – stop purchasing plastic containers of laundry tablets and instead go for a refillable laundry detergent
Cosmetics & Skincare products
- Shampoo and Conditioner – stores such as LUSH and online retailers now sell shampoo/conditioner bars which are made organically and can be selected depending on your hair type
- Body gel – soap is completely non-wasteful as when you’re finished with it it will literally disappear! No waste! Plus there are some wonderful, organic versions out there that I have found do wonder for the skin
- Facial creams – face bars in biodegradable or no packaging are just as cleansing as any face cream you can buy from a high-end brand (and probably cheaper too!)
- Store-bought lip balm – get dry lips in the summer? Swap your regular high-street brand for an organic and naturally made lip balm or tint from ZAO or Etsy
- Packaged face masks – these seem to be coming back in style but I would recommend getting an unpackaged version in the form of soap or a biodegradable packaged version from LUSH
- Eyeliner pens – organically made, natural pomades are now available, and using organic and/or bamboo applicators will be less harmful to the environment
- Makeup wipes – these are terrible for the environment because they take years to degrade so purchase some reusable cotton make-up pads which you simply throw into the wash after use. Much better value for money too.
- Makeup remover – if you’re still purchasing micellar water in plastic bottles swap it out for a natural oil or soap found in vegan or bulk buy stores and gently rub them into a reusable cotton pad/flannel in order to remove your make-up
Health & Lifestyle products
- Toothpaste – Toothpaste tabs are now a thing. They’re similar in shape to painkiller tablets making them easy to transport when you’re on holiday or out and about. Simply chew it and then brush it in with your…
- Plastic toothbrushes – turn down the plastic toothbrush and replace it with a bamboo variety
- Aerosol deodorant – aerosols are so bad for you and the containers are just as harmful to the environment as the actual spray. Swap it out for an organic deodorant or balm such as FitPit or Earth Conscious natural deodorant
- Sanitary pads – if you’re sick of having to purchase sanitary pads every single month then I highly recommend Period Pants. I have a selection from WUKA but there are many other brands available.
- Tampons – if you prefer tampons to sanitary pads then I recommend a Mooncup or menstrual disc. I have a version from INTIMINA.
- Sanitary products – and if neither of the above sound good to you then I recommend trying organically made/natural reusable pads which you wear and wash after use.
- Toilet roll – Who knew that a subscription for toilet roll would be a thing of biodegradable genius! Who Gives a Crap toilet roll is affordable, long-lasting (in the sense the rolls are double-length), and biodegradable. Fab!
- Tissues – Hayfever season is here so stock up on some Who Gives Crap biodegradable tissues to tide you over during your zero-waste journey (handkerchiefs are also a good alternative!)
- Disposable nappies – if you have a new baby then reusable nappies seem to be all the rage right now. Purchase (a lot of) these reusable cloths via Etsy or new parent websites
- Candles – stop burning your store-bought candles which ingredients you’ve never heard of for organic soy candles which are much better for your bank balance, bedroom, and zero-waste goals
- Food bins – change your everyday waste bin for a compost bin (if you have a tiny flat like mine I recommend keeping a bag of compost in the freezer as this will lessen the smell)
- Council recycling – sick of not knowing what the council will or won’t take, and never knowing if they actually do recycle your waste then check out TerraCycle points and take your recycling to them for guaranteed recycling. They usually have drop-off points in bulk buy stores.
- Plastic straws – get rid of these evil things and replace them with paper straws if you have to have them
- Plastic cutlery – picnic season is almost here but that doesn’t mean popping to your local pound stop in order to get 100 plastic knives and forks, instead, get in the habit of taking your own bamboo or metal cutlery set with you and decreasing your waste that way
- Clingfilm and tin foil – everyday items that we might not realise were harmful to the environment which can be easily replaced with natural wraps made from beeswax and/or rice paper
- Bottles of water/other drinks – purchase a reusable drinks container to carry your drinks around with you
- Coffee cups – stop buying takeaway cups and instead keep your KeepCup on your to get your coffee from your local store, you’ll often get a discount by using a reusable cup than a takeaway cup as well. Win-win.
- Electric coffee machine – who needs an electric coffee machine? Purchase a simple pour-over coffee contraption and pour hot water over the ground coffee instead
- Plastic bags – stop saying yes to plastic bags (refuse!) and get in the habit of having a tote bag on you at all times
- High-street clothing – I’m still in throes of learning about organic and sustainable alternatives to high-street fashion but for now I shop at charity shops in order to reuse clothes rather than replace them.
- High street clothing – start sourcing sustainable alternatives online to discover new and exciting brands that fit your zero-waste goals
Those are 49 Zero-Waste Alternatives to implement today. Let me know if you’re thinking of starting a zero-waste journey in the comments below. I’m always around to share zero-waste tips on my blog.
You can listen to my full interview on BBC Radio 5Live here.