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Here’s our list of the best zero waste swaps to help your family create less waste. From the kitchen to the laundry room our simple swaps will help you save money and simplify your life! Click through to see how easy it is to make the change to a low impact lifestyle.
Are you looking to live a simpler lifestyle and cut down your waste? Good for you! We’ve been reducing our waste for a while, so I wanted to show you the swaps that worked well AND made life easier for us. This list came from a great deal of trail and error and has been several years in the making.
In a hurry and looking for a quick win?
Do you find that getting quick win keeps you motivated when you are looking to make a change? Yup me too.
✅ These microfiber cloths are our number one choice.
This one product replaces paper towels, make up wipes, window cleaner fluid, and Swiffer mop refills.
And the best thing? They are cheap! Check the price and read the reviews here. We bought 2 packs, because they are so useful.
The interlocking fibers act as a magnet for dust, hairs, and moisture. We use them to wash dishes, clean up messes, wipe down our granite counters, clean cars and windows. We also use them on our swiffer mops.
Toss them in the laundry when you are done, Pair them with a lint free polishing cloth and you can eliminate the need for window cleaners.
Which Zero Waste Swaps Are the Best?
These are the best products we have found so far. All of them make our lives easier and help us reduce our waste with no fuss. They are also very affordable, something that is important if you are trying to go zero waste on a budget. Each one of these products rank highly on Amazon and that doesn’t surprise me. They work super well.
We have made a lot of other swaps and I will talk about those later. Still these 5 items and the microfibre cloths are the ones that we use every single day.
The best zero waste swaps for your family
This is the part where I will talk in more detail about all the zero waste swaps that we have made in our household. Each one of these products has been tested and approved by us. I will also tell you about the things we tried that didn’t work so well, so you can be warned ahead of time. I will also list free alternatives where possible.
Zero waste swaps for the kitchen
We love food and cooking, so this is the place we have made the most swaps. Some have worked super well and others did not work for us. Here are some of our favorites and one caution.
With almost 400 5-star reviews on Amazon, these silicone bags are perfect for storing everything from meat to sandwiches.
They are much cheaper than the well known Stasher bags and are listed as Amazon’s choice. You get 3 large and 4 medium bags.
They are safe for the freezer, microwave, dishwasher, and boiling water.
Tip: If you are struggling to slide the sealing rod on the bag, turn it around and try sliding from the other end.
Stretchy silicone lids replace cling film and are perfect for stretching over bowls, tins, and even vegetables.
We use them all the time and probably need more than one package. I love that they can be washed in the dishwasher, so you don’t have to worry about contamination.
Here’s another kitchen swap we use every day.
My partner is an avid cook and likes to use a fine covering of spray oil to coat pans and occasionally to add a little oil to meat or roast vegetables. I love that you select which oil you want to use.
We were going through one can of spray oil a month, so this swap saves us about $48 in a year.
Storage swaps that didn’t work for us
The beeswax wraps and bags, did not work for us. In theory, the warmth of your hands softens the beeswax, so you can mold them over bowls or produce. We couldn’t make it work. The beeswax didn’t soften. Instead it cracked in odd places and nothing stayed tightly wrapped. The bags can not be placed in the microwave or dishwasher. They can’t be sterilized, so never use them with raw meat.
Free zero waste swaps: If money is tight why not try storing food in glass jars? They can be washed in the dishwasher and even used in the microwave (remove the lid fist).
Our Favorite Swaps For Shopping
Single use plastic bags are being banned in many grocery stores, so it makes sense to get some reusable ones sooner than later. Here are some of our favorite bags.
The bagpodz bags are amazing. They all squish into the handy little pouch. Toss the pouch into your car or shopping trolley and you are always ready to go. Organic produce bags replace the single us plastic produce bags and work well.
How many times have you got to the grocery store and realized that you left your shopping bags behind? Foldable shopping bags squish up into a small pouch that you can store in your purse.
A word about rip stop acrylics: Both of the shopping bags we chose are made from rip stop acrylics. We chose them because they are durable and last much longer than cotton. Cotton production can also have some devastating environmental consequences. Look for products that are certified by the Organic Textile Standards. All the products produced by Simple Ecology are certified.
Packing Waste Free Lunches
Packing lunches saves us a lot of money each year. I use mason jars and our trusty silicone bags a lot. I keep plates and cutlery at work. Here are a few other things that help.
Zero waste swaps for cleaning and laundry
Cleaning and laundry are part of family life that is never done, although I must confess I tend to put it off longer than I should! Here’s a few swaps that worked for us.
Everything We Recommend
I must confess that I was really dubious about soap nuts at first. I couldn’t believe that they could possibly replace laundry detergent, but they do a great job. You get 8-10 washes from each nut. When they turn grey it is time to toss them in the compost. These come with a little zippered bag which makes it much easier to fish the soap nuts out of the wash.
The Bamboo handle and microfibre heads make this duster a great plastic free swap. The head detaches from the handle for washing.
Drying Clothes The Zero Waste Way
Why pay to dry clothes when you can do it for free? The problem is that we live in the north, so we can only dry clothes outside for about 3 months. Still this is what we use.
Our rotary clothes line gets a lot of use in the summer. I like that it doesn’t take much space and can be folded up. It holds almost 2 full loads of laundry (clothes). I will warn you that it can be tricky to hang sheets and they tend to take a lot of space. Don’t forget clothespins I use a bag to store and keep them handy.
Tip: Sort the wet laundry into small items (socks and underwear) and larger items as you take them out of the machine. I use two baskets to do this. Then dump the smaller items on top of the others. The smaller items fit better in the middle sections of the rotary clothesline. Sorting means you don’t waste time digging through the entire load of laundry to find something to fit.
Drying clothes inside
A free alternative: Place two chairs a couple of feet apart, with the seat facing out. Balance a thick dowel (broomstick) between the two chairs. Take shirts out of the laundry, place on hangers and hang them to dry on the dowel. I’ve also draped wet laundry over towel racks and shower rods in the bathroom.
Laundry swaps that didn’t work for us
I must confess I hate ironing, so I will pop a load of laundry in the dryer for 10 minutes to soften them and shake out the creases,
We tried dryer balls as an alternative to dryer sheets. As we live in a very dry climate, so static cling is a nightmare. There is also a cat that sheds a mountain of hair. The balls did not work for us at all. It is confusing, because they have great ratings. Still all I can tell you is that they did nothing to get rid of static cling. The best we have found are these biodegradable sheets. We haven’t tried them ourselves, but they have good ratings. They aren’t truly waste free, but at least they can be reused and put in the compost. We are still looking for an alternative that works.
Have some fun the Zero waste way
Here are a couple of fun swaps we made and very much enjoy!
This collapsible silicone popcorn maker works like a dream. Pop in a tablespoon of oil ad a 1/4 cup of popcorn. Then heat in the microwave until it finishes popping. It is way cheaper than the individual microwavable popcorn packages. It takes up very little cupboard space and can be washed in the dishwasher!
The soda stream is one of the more expensive swaps we’ve bought.l At first I wondered if it was worth the price. Six months in and I will say an enthusiastic YES! We use it every day and the Co2 container lasted for about 5 months before it needed refilling. We’ve tried it with homemade ginger and rhubarb syrup. Both were delicious!
Zero waste swaps for personal care
Our last category is one area we are still researching. We haven’t made any changes yet. I am intrigued by the shampoo bars, but don’t know if I’m willing to give up my electric toothbrush, because it does such a good job! Still here are some products we’re looking at.
Some other zero waste posts
What is zero waste ?
Simply put it is the choice to live in a way that produces as little waste as possible.
How to go zero waste
One step at a time! At least that is the way it happened in our home.
It all started when I began to get uncomfortable about the amount of plastic we were consuming. Plastic is a really useful product, but it brings with it environmental and health costs. We became increasingly aware of how many single use plastic items we consumed and threw away. Surely there was a better way?
We decided to tackle things one at a time. First the water bottles and then came microfiber cloths. Motivated by these easy wins, we moved onto reusable shopping bags, and silicone bags. Our latest experiment have been silicone lids and they are brilliant.
I have noticed that people can get very passionate about the zero waste lifestyle. I’ve also seen discussion threads in which people lay down very severe restrictions about minimalism and zero waste.
- You cannot run a dishwasher if you are serious about Zero waste.
- You cannot be a zero waste family if you produce more than one jar of waste.
- Silicone is as bad as plastic and should never be used.
- Only natural items should be used.
- How can you even think about using a nylon bag?
Reducing our waste and restricting single use items is a worthy goal. Going zero waste is a choice and it will look different for every family . Your definition of zero waste may be different to mine and that is ok. Here is a family that have gone all in on Zero waste.
What do you think? Could you do that? Some of us are just dipping our toe into the zero waste lifestyle. Others have got to the point where they only produce 1 mason jar worth of trash in a year. Many of us are somewhere in between. We are all trying and that is what really counts.
This isn’t a religion with a set of rules and laws. Don’t listen to the “shoulds and the musts” of other so called experts. Do what works for you.
How far along the zero waste journey are you? What are your favorite swaps? Do you have anything to add to our list. Please leave a comment below.