Zero Waste Products To Switch To
Zero waste is a big thing at the moment – and for good reason. However, when most people think of zero-waste, they automatically assume we mean recycling. As such, many zero-waste products get lumped together. The reality, of course, is that our carbon footprint is about so much more than recycling our items. It’s about finding ways to give our planet room to breathe. While these products might not make a colossal difference in the world, they’re a good start to giving Earth a fighting chance.
What to Consider When Buying a 0-Waste Product
Naturally, the first thing you’re going to want to consider is the carbon footprint of your new purchase. In other words, how much energy goes into making the item you’re about to purchase. Interestingly, you can’t really count this item against your own personal carbon footprint. Instead, these items fall on the companies themselves. However, as we all know, most companies aren’t too fussed about their carbon footprint. Often, they prefer to rely on the individual to make up for their massive amounts of waste. So, I guess that’s what we’ll do. Someone’s got to, eh?
Of course, it’s not just about how much carbon is emitted during creation. Indeed, it’s also worth considering whether the new item offsets your current carbon footprint. It’s all well and good buying a new product, if that new product actually adds more, during its lifespan.
It’s also worth noting that the item should be convenient. Yes, we should all do our part to help offset our emissions. But, we’re not about to shame people for wanting those products to be equally convenient. If it doesn’t make your life easier than your current options, then you’re more likely to simply buy the current products on top of the zero-waste products. And that just adds more to your footprint, overall.
The general consensus, of course, is that single-use products need to be thrown away and out of your life for the very last time. So, how can you do that? Read on, my friends, read on.
The Benefits of Using Zero Waste Products
Aside from the major benefit of zero waste products being good for the environment, there are some major benefits to your personal life. For starters, not having to remember to go to the shops on a regular basis to pick up the essentials, is a good benefit to have in your life. Plus, you can save some serious money, overall. For example, the menstrual cup is a great first, zero-waste buy to go for – and it’s been shown that you could save $475 over ten years (roughly £340). Yes, this is small change in reality – but think of how much multiple switches to eco-friendly products could save you!
Then there’s all the simple things. Like your bin not becoming full of disposable rubbish. Which, in turn, saves you trips to the bin or recycling centre. Thus, you’re also lowering your carbon footprint in your day-to-day life, too. So, clearly it’s these small changes that make huge differences to our world. Once you consider the knock-on effect of purchasing eco-friendly products, the list of benefits (both big and small) grows considerably.
What To Buy to Go Zero Waste
Here’s the rub – it’s pretty much impossible to go completely carbon neutral. Between work, individual lifestyles and the way our countries require productivity on an endless cycle (hello, “human resources”), we’re always going to have some form of carbon footprint. But, knowing what zero waste products to buy can be a huge help. And, without getting all political or boring you in my hippy-dippy ways, that’s all we can hope to do.
Best Zero-Waste Products to Switch to
So, with everything we’ve said above in mind, here’s a list of the best zero-waste products to help reduce your carbon footprint. Again, if you don’t think you’ll use these, then don’t buy them. Only opt for the ones that you can actually see yourself using, regularly!
The menstrual cup is arguably one of the best 0-waste products to get yourself, if you have periods. Frankly, as well as being good for the environment, it’s also incredibly convenient for users. Following on from our article on the menstrual cup from our in-house doctor, Stef, I decided to give this a try for myself. Sure, I swore a lot the first time I tried it, but you’d be amazed how quickly you get used to insertion/removal and generally feeling a lot cleaner, overall.
There’s a couple of different types available. Thus, which one you get is really up to you. I opted for the MoonCup because they’re one of the biggest brands out there. As such, I figured I’d get better customer service and generally felt safer buying what is, essentially, medical equipment for my vagina. Of course, Stef herself chose the Lunette cup, I believe. However, regardless of which option you choose, just be sure to go for one that offers medical-grade silicone and is the right size/fit for your body.
Most people don’t consider the humble toothbrush when it comes to their bathroom waste. However, if you’re following guidance from the pros, you should be changing your toothbrush every three months. And that adds up to a lot of plastic in landfill. A bamboo toothbrush, on the other hand, is completely biodegradable and – as an additional bonus – doesn’t cost more than most plastic options.
As with any toothbrush, be sure to grab one with the right firmness of bristles. Since most dentists recommend using soft bristles, you should buy one of these eco-friendly options. This way you can continue to protect your gums and teeth, while also being eco-friendly with your purchasing habits. However, if you prefer medium firmness, check out this option for a great value, zero-waste toothbrush. Finally, for a great price with the added benefit of extra eco-friendly items, this set of bathroom essentials is a great choice.
As we detail in our guide to discovering your hair type, not all shampoos are equal. The humble shampoo bar, however, is a great choice for those seeking to find an eco-friendly alternative to shampoo bottles. If you have brittle hair, be careful in how you use your new purchase. Simply rubbing it all over your head can cause breakage, no matter how high the quality of the shampoo itself. Instead, rub the bar between your hands – you might need to do this for a while – and get a good lather going, first. Then proceed to use your soap as you would with normal shampoo.
For those with greasy hair, this shampoo bar is going to be best for your needs. Meanwhile, if you have hair that’s prone to breakage, try out this option from Garnier. Those with dry hair, or who are sensitive to SLS and parabens should try this option from Faith in Nature (my personal favourite). Coloured and dry hair work best with this option from EarthKind. And, for most others, this everyday shampoo bar works wonder for the daily dose of cleanliness.
Razors, like toothbrushes, are some of the most frequently used yet highest-waste products in the bathroom. Again, these need to be changed regularly and – despite the functional part of the razor being recyclable – the entire thing is thrown away after a couple of uses. Besides which, even disposable razors can be expensive. So, why not swap these out for eco-friendly razors, instead?
Most of these take a bit of getting used to, since you’ll need to understand how to swap out the blades. That said, this particular option is surprisingly easy to use and offers an incredibly close shave. However, if you’re a little too nervous to try this, and like the safety of using disposables then I have good news for you. This bio-shavers set from GreenVibe actually offers you a set of disposable razors in an eco-friendly package. Even better, it even comes with a little handmade, vegan soap to use alongside it, too.
Moving on from the bathroom, we come to the kitchen. And, arguably, one of the biggest sources of waste in the kitchen is uneaten food. In the UK, some 6.7 million tons of food goes to waste, each year. Which is equivalent to £10.2b per year. That’s a lot of food which should be going in our bellies. However, it’s understandable when you realise just how quickly healthy, nutritious food goes off before we get the chance to enjoy it.
A good way of avoiding this is to use vegetable huggers. These cute little accessories don’t take up loads of room in the fridge, but stop oxygen from getting to your food. As such, your veggies last much longer and you’re able to enjoy the fresh-tasting food for longer. This set of 8 huggers are the best space-saving options, but don’t work too well on non-round foods (think avocados). In those cases, there are specific alternatives. Or, if you prefer, there is always the classic food storage sets, which also work well for meal prep.
Cleaning products are another problem when it comes to using plastic in lieu of eco-friendly products. Dishwashing sponges, for example, use plastics and micro-plastics, which can’t be recycled. Instead, try these completely natural dishwashing sponges, which use plants to create a fantastic alternative to the classic dishwashing necessity. An additional benefit to these is that you can swap out your loofah’s for these luffas, in the shower, too!
Then there are the cleaning products themselves. With harsh chemicals, which often go directly into our sewer systems and out to the ocean, using alternatives can make a huge difference to the climate. Alternatively, these eco-drops just mix each item with some water (saving on packaging) and use the plant-based concoctions to deliver powerful cleaning to your kitchen and home.
If you’ve read our article on the best lunch boxes, you’ll already know that we love to meal prep and find ways to save money while at work, too. However, even the finest preparation can sometimes require we use plastic baggies or aluminium foil instead of eco-friendly alternatives. The good news here is that sandwich wrappers are becoming increasingly popular – and therefore a wider range of choice at buyer-friendly prices are coming out.
Beeswax wrappers are perfect for keeping your sandwiches fresh and flavoursome, without any additional hassle. They’re completely biodegradable but – even better – also reusable. This choice from WAFE comes with some bonus stretchy lids, so also work as vegetable huggers. However, if you prefer to set your own sizing, then you might prefer this option from Natissy. These even come with repair blocks and are naturally anti-bacterial – perfect for keeping your food fresh during long shifts!
OK, this one is cheating a bit, since it’s more about aesthetics than giving you a helping hand around the home. However, bees and bugs are essential, and off-setting our carbon footprint includes making our gardens as eco-friendly as possible, too.
While we’ve got an entire article dedicated to making your garden bee-friendly, these seedbombs are great if you’re a little lazier (like me) or short on time. You can effectively chuck these out into your garden and let nature do its thing, here. Either make your own seedbombs with the kids, for a bit of messy fun, or buy them ready-made from independent stores!
What is a zero waste product?
The name “zero waste” is actually a little misleading. Naturally, all things create waste. Whether that’s the energy required to make the item or how much carbon is created when shipping and more. So, instead, the focus for these products should be on low-waste. Or – even better – negating the equivalence.
What I mean when I say that is: does this replacement product mean that, over time, I will reduce my carbon footprint, when compared to how my carbon footprint would stand without the replacement? If the answer is no, then please don’t spend your money on something that won’t help you or the environment.
Why are zero waste products so expensive?
Put simply, plastic has been used for years because it’s cheap to create and the general population cares very little for renewable material over convenience. Naturally, like all good things, it takes a little extra time, effort and energy to create something that is worth more, overall. So, eco-friendly products tend to be a little more expensive.
That being said, however, shoppers will notice that the price of zero-waste products is quickly reducing. Greater availability of resources, more competition on the market and greater demand for eco-friendly products is putting pressure on companies to find options with a lower carbon footprint.
How do I make my bathroom waste zero?
Your bathroom will always have a little waste (excuse the pun). Flushing toilets, electric lights, the shower (whether it runs on gas or electric) are all likely to be run by things that cost energy. Unless you’ve already got an eco-heating system in place and use excess water from showers to flush the toilet, and so on. However, for the majority of us, all we can hope to do is lower our overall carbon footprint. So, for those of us just getting by and getting on, simply using the options given in our buying guide should be a good, strong first step to becoming more eco-friendly.