Zero waste is all about making small changes that can make a difference in the long run. It’s not a fast race, it’s a slow and steady upwards trail that gets easier as you go along, making small eco friendly choices. Many items used in a household everyday are ones we don’t think about using, we just use them for a short while and then throw them out. There are always more environmentally friendly alternatives to everyday items, and by switching out plastic for reusable, garbage leaving a home can be reduced significantly. These 8 items are ones that help reduce all types of waste on a constant basis, meaning once you’ve made the swap, you’ll never have to purchase the single-use versions again. What a wonderful feeling!
8 Zero Waste Items to Help Reduce Waste Everyday
#1 Stasher Bags
Stasher bags are a great replacement for ziploc or single use plastic bags. Although sometimes those plastic bags are reused, they quickly degrade with use and are ultimately destined for landfill. Stasher bags are plastic free silicone bags that can store food and personal items for travel and lunches, and seal at the top by pinching the seam together (just like a ziploc bag). They can also be used in the microwave, stovetop cooking, fridge and freezer storage, and be cleaned in the dishwasher! These bags range in price from about $10 – $30 depending on the size, but they are built to last and are so versatile in their use that they are worth the investment and switch from single use.
#2 Wax Wraps
Wax wraps are made from natural fabric and beeswax or soy wax for vegan wax wrap options, and are an alternative for plastic wrap and aluminum foil. They are waterproof and are great for temporary food storage, such as packing a snack for a hike or school lunch. They can also be used as a quick lid to an open jar or bowl, and to keep bugs out of drink glasses on a backyard patio.
One thing they can not do is be exposed to heat such as hot water or stove top cooking, as the wax finish will melt away, however, the wax finish also allows for easy refinishing if the wrap is losing waxiness after many washes. Wax wraps are easy to make yourself, save hundreds of plastic wrap pieces from entering waterways, and you can check out this DIY tutorial to try it yourself.
#3 Tupperware Brand Fridgesmart Containers
These containers are the ultimate produce storage units that keep produce fresh for weeks at a time and consistently save food from being discarded. I have been using Fridgesmart containers since I first started living on my own during college, and was able to bulk buy vegetables (for just myself) and eat them at leisure. Carrots for example, when kept in a Fridgesmart container, stay fresh for 4 months+, and I have personally tested this as well. Raspberries have stayed fresh for 3 full weeks and leafy greens 4+ weeks.
Food waste is one of the main sources of greenhouse gases when uneaten food ends up in the landfill. But even when composted, food is still a source of waste (of resources) when it goes bad before it is eaten. In Canada, more than a third of our food produced and distributed is never actually eaten. Produce has a huge hand in these statistics, and avoiding throwing produce out in our homes can help lower food waste.
A set of four Fridgesmart containers costs about $105, but from experience I will tell you that this original investment will save you hundreds of dollars of wasted food and will keep your food fresher longer. You can find Fridgesmart containers from individual Tupperware consultants.
#4 Fabric Napkins
Fabric napkins are a low waste alternative to store bought napkins and paper towels. They are machine washable and can be as fancy or casual as you want. I have three sets of reusable fabric napkins, which I find is the perfect amount to circulate between meals and the laundry.
#5 Silicone Baking Mats
Silicone baking mats, sheets, and muffin cups are a non stick addition for baking. These can replace the use of aerosol oil sprays as well as parchment paper and parchment muffin cups. Most are dishwasher safe and can handle heat in the oven up to about 425 – 475 degrees fahrenheit.
#6 Dish Soap Bars
Dish soap bars are great for camping, travel, as well as everyday use in the kitchen. They work great with cellulose cloths and scrub brushes, and save the hundreds of dish soap bottles that would otherwise end up in household recycling or garbage each year. Easy to use and easy to store, these dish soap bars are definitely worth the switch from bottles, especially if refillable options are not available in your area. They can be found in zero waste stores as well as a large range of online stores.
#7 Metal Razors
This is the ultimate bathroom swap from disposable razors. Disposable plastic razors are like plastic straws, they can’t be recycled easily, are designed to be used a few times and then thrown away, and they are extremely dangerous to wildlife when they end up in the environment. There are so many different types of reusable razors, and they all have the ability to change out the blades once they are dulled. Safety razors are great examples of a reusable metal razor that can replace dozens of razors that may be used each year in a household. If you are not as interested in a razor with only one blade, Leaf brand razors are an example of one that has a three blade option. They are easily accessible in online stores and are meant to last, which is the aim of any good product attempting to reduce waste.
#8 Corn Based Tooth Floss
This one may seem like an odd item to have on this list of zero waste items, but the goal of this list is to discuss items that are more environmentally friendly alternatives to items used everyday. Most tooth floss is made of a plastic string coated in wax, however tooth floss can come in biodegradable forms, including corn and silk versions. These versions are also sold in small glass or tin packaging instead of plastic, and have brands that sell floss refills, meaning the tin or glass floss package only has to be purchased once. This switch is one of the switches that made it possible for my bathroom trash bin to transform into a compost bin.
Hopefully these 8 switches are able to change the waste output in your household and create an awareness of the everyday items that add to landfill garbage. As we continue on a journey to make our lives more aligned with nature’s values and circular living, reducing even the smallest parts of waste play an important part in the big picture. Individuals consistently working to better the world around them. Thank you for being one of these individuals and continuing to make a pint sized impact.