Zero Waste Home - 15 Simple Swaps To Make Today

When you go zero waste, you tend to focus a lot on what happens outside of the home, like to-go coffee cups and take out containers. But what are some quick swaps we can make at home? It doesn’t need to be hard or expensive to replace some disposable items in your home with better options.

The idea isn’t to go through your house and throw away every piece of plastic, that would be completely against the point. Got a plastic hairbrush that’s still working great? Then please, keep it as long as you can! But next time your toothbrush needs swapping, take a look at your choices.

Let’s start in the kitchen:

1) Plastic Wrap vs Beeswax Wraps

From making school lunches to covering leftovers, plastic wrap gets a lot of use. But with reusable beeswax (and vegan) wraps being biodegradable, natural and keeping your food fresher longer, they’re an easy swap.

Want to ditch plastic wrap? Check out etee Reusable Foodwraps.

beeswax food wrap on glass bowl buy etee beeswax food wraps

2) Tupperware vs. Glass or Stainless Steel Containers

Again, we’re not suggesting you toss your drawer of mismatched plastic containers (seriously, where are all those matching lids?!). But if taking your lunch to work is new for you and you’re looking to invest, there are some really great glass and stainless steel options out there now. You can find wonderful Tiffin or bento-style containers that keep your salad, leftovers, and dessert from mixing all together.


3) Ziploc Bags vs. Reusable Food Bags

Much like plastic wrap, we use plastic food bags to keep our food fresh, but in fact, a beeswax bag will keep food fresher longer. Isn’t it a bit silly to buy things that you know you’re just going to throw away?

Check out etee Reusable Foodbags

etee reusable beeswax food bags

4) Sponges vs. Natural Bristle Scrubbers

A lot of the time nature’s answer is quite simply a better option. A wood handled scrubby with all-natural bristles is long-lasting, easy to keep clean and never has that ‘sponge smell’ (you know the one).

5) Bleached Coffee Filters vs. Reusable Coffee Filters

Beyond eliminating single-use plastic coffee pods, there are a number of ways to make your morning coffee production zero waste. From unbleached, all-natural Chemex filters, to fabric reusable filters, to simply using the trusty Bodem or espresso machine.

6) Single-Use Produce Bags vs. Reusable Food Bags

This is one of the most common ways for plastic to enter our homes and our kitchens. Keeping either cloth or beeswax food bags on hand will help you avoid this ‘convenience plastic’, just toss them all inside of one bag and keep them in your tote.

7) Paper Towel vs. Washable Cloths


Once a paper towel has been used it’s not a recyclable product and most towels are bleached, making it a less than ideal compost addition. Keep clothes on hand to quickly clean up spills.


8) Plastic Dish Soap Bottles vs. Refillable Bottle


Whether or not you have the time to make your own dish soap, you can still be refilling a glass pump (or you can get a pump attachment for a Mason jar) and then take it with you when you visit the bulk store.


9) Food Packaging vs. Reusable Storage

Jars for nut butter and spices, fabric bags for grains and pasta, beeswax food bags for produce (and pretty much anything else!). While it may seem like a drag to bring all your own packaging with you to the bulk store or bakery, the pay off is huge. You’ll be saving money and the environment. Win. Win.


Now let’s head to the bathroom:

10) Plastic Toothbrush vs. Bamboo Toothbrush

The average North American will throw away 300 toothbrushes in their lifetime, that’s a lot of plastic! Next time your toothbrush is looking a little worn out, try switching to a bamboo toothbrush. They last just as long, keep plastic out of your mouth and are biodegradable.


11) Plastic-wrapped Bleached Toilet Paper vs. Paper-Wrapped Unbleached Toilet Paper


Toilet paper is one of those things most people just won’t go without, and fair enough! (Although bidets, like the Tushy, are also an option.) However, if you’re not planning ahead and buying paper-wrapped in bulk, this is one of those convenience items that’s really going to get you. So find a source for eco-friendly paper and stock up! You’ll always need more.


12) Plastic Shampoo Bottles vs Shampoo Bars


While the smell of Lush might be an overwhelming experience for some, they have an incredible selection of package-free shampoo bars. You might be cringing, picturing washing your precious hair with a bar of soap, but these shampoo bars are made with your hair in mind. They’ll leave it just as silky and soft as any shampoo in a bottle. And while Lush kicked off the shampoo bar trend, there are tons of options out there now. So try a few and see what you like.

13) Disposable Razors vs. Safety Razors


The problem is right there in the name. Disposable razors. We use them, we toss them and often times they aren’t even that good. Brand name disposable razors have gotten wildly expensive, so invest in a safety razor and you’ll also save some serious cash.


14) Dental Floss vs. Dental Silk


Dental silk, it even sounds nicer. Look for floss made from mulberry silk or coated in beeswax to avoid petroleum-based products coating the floss itself. You’ll find a variety of container options, from glass to cardboard to tin.


15) Deodorant Stick vs. Deodorant Cream


We still want you to feel fresh and smell nice. Why not switch from your plastic roll-up deodorant stick to a nice jar of cream next time you wind it down the last little bit? Made from all natural ingredients, your armpits will thank you.


What are some simple zero waste swaps you’ve made in your home?

zero waste

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  • Great list – most I do already and some not. I know it’s using paper but I would like to print a copy both for a reminder and to post where I work. But this is in a 13 page doc. Can you send a printable one or two page version? Thanks.

    Roz on
  • As the plastic lids on glass containers have cracked, I started using the etee wraps to cover them instead. They work wonderfully!

    I recycle as much as I can and got a rude wake-up call when my very thorough recycling center recently stopped accepting some things. Now I’m even more careful about packaging choices. Will it recycle? Can I get it without the packaging? I am tackling an item at a time (like making my own mayonnaise) in my continual effort to reduce-reuse-repurpose-recycle.
    Leslee on
  • Compost! Get one in your own back yard, or use the municipality’s. It is super easy and does not smell. Donate used clothing to a charity; donate magazines/ old yarn to a school for art work; cloth napkins; cloth diapers; cloth make-up remover pads; take your own bags to the store; bring your own cutlery to the food court; don’t even buy paper towels. So many little things – even using soap bars as opposed to plastic pump bottles

    Lisa on
  • I use older wash cloths to do dishes. I also had a lot of colorful bandannas that I use for napkins or to hang on kitchen drawer handles as a quick spill or hand drying option.

    Kay on
  • I live in Alberta, Canada. Here we compost paper towels, as long as they don’t have any synthetic fibers in them.

    W McGregor on

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