Life & Style

10 Easy Swaps to Reduce Waste

This week is #ZeroWasteWeek which is great for raising awareness, but for me, kind of daunting. I am really trying hard to live a more sustainable, greener life, but not producing any waste is a looooong way off for me. So these are the ways I am already reducing waste, and also a few things I want to start doing.

This list is by no means exhaustive – I’m sure there are loads of other swaps I can make to reduce waste, that I need to look into. Hopefully it will give you some easy swaps you can make to reduce waste, too.A Guide to Easy Swaps You Can Make to Reduce Waste

Swaps I’ve Already Made to Reduce Waste

The first five swaps are ones I’ve already made, or am in the process of changing. Some of them are fairly obvious, but hopefully some will make you think!

1. Swap Tea Bags to Tea Leaves to Reduce Waste

I don’t think I’m alone in being shocked that tea bags contain tiny particles of plastic. I was horrified, especially as we put them on our compost heap, thinking they are biodegradable. So I have been using a tea pot and strainer, and also a stainless steel tea infuser, which you can buy here for £6.99*, with loose leaf tea. My next step is to find tea leaves in recyclable packaging. The ones I have found so far come in plastic or plasticised foil, which isn’t recyclable. Apart from reducing waste, this tea tastes so much better, so it’s a win/win. Loose leaf tea and a strainer are easy swaps you can make to reduce waste

If you want to reduce water waste, you might like to read this post about the free water-saving kit you can get from Anglian Water.

2. Refill Food Cupboard Staples to Reduce Waste

I am so happy to see Refill Stores popping up around the country. We have a lovely lady who comes to our town every month, along with surrounding towns. Her business is called My Refill Market, and serves the Milton Keynes area. Check out the My Refill Market Facebook page here to find out where she will be. You just take your containers, and refill them with whatever you need – no packaging required!

We went to The Refill Store in Truro when we were on holiday in Cornwall over the summer. They sell all sorts of eco-friendly goodies which you can pop into paper bags if you’ve forgotten your containers.

Refill stores are full of easy swaps you can make to reduce waste

If you’re close to St Albans, Hertfordshire, you might like to check out The Refill Pantry. I haven’t been there, but it looks gorgeous too!

You can find a great list of zero waste and refill shops shops here, hopefully there’s one near you.

3. Swap Disposable Coffee Cups for a Re-usable Cup to Reduce Waste

In my opinion, every coffee or tea drinker needs a re-useable cup. The majority of disposable cups from high street coffee shops cannot be recycled, due to their plastic coating. According to coffee company Percol‘s research, the UK throws away 2.5 billion takeaway coffee cups every year, but less than 1% get recycled. (Percol have a petition to #CleanUpCoffee which you can sign here, with the aim of getting coffee shops to use recyclable coffee cups.)Recycled coffee cup

Percol, who made the UK’s first fully compostable coffee capsules, kindly sent me this re-useable coffee cup, which I’ll be using for takeaway coffee. I think using a re-useable cup is vital in the fight against the tsunami of disposable cups. I already have a KeepCup, which I use for tea. It’s light and strong*, so you can chuck them in you bag on your way out of the house. I use mine all the time: I make a tea at home and take it to the park, or with me on the school run. It’s also great to take shopping or on day trips, where I ask for my drink in it at takeaways. I’ve washed it in the dishwasher at least 100 times, and it looks as good as new.

Did you know?

There’s enough plastic in 20 disposable cups (and lids) to make one small KeepCup. So although KeepCups are made from plastic, using a KeepCup will mean less plastic is produced and discarded. You only have to use it 15 times to break even with a disposable cup in terms of the energy manufacture and use. It’s made from single component materials to help recycling at end of life.

Using re-usable water bottles is another no-brainer for me. With both these things, the hardest part is actually remembering to take them with you. It’s all about getting into the habit of it, much like most people have with re-useable shopping bags.

4. Swap Plastic Cling Film for Beeswax Wraps to Reduce Waste

I am trying to use eco-friendly, re-useable Beeswax Wraps in place of clingfilm where I can. Made from cotton with a beeswax coating, they are flexible and breathable, keeping food fresher for longer. There are no nasties to leech into the food, and the warmth from your hands moulds them to whatever you’re wrapping up. You just wash them in cold water with dish soap and they are ready to use again. You can reactivate them a warm oven and eventually when they wear out you can compost it. I think mine was from Beeswax Wrap Co. but there are lots of online brands selling similar versions*.

Beeswax wraps help reduce waste

I have reusable sandwich wraps for picnics, which work so well, but the company who made them are no longer trading. But I found these similar wraps from Keep Leaf* which I will be buying when mine come to the end of their life.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Keep Leaf (@keepleaf) on

5. Swap Plastic for Bamboo to Reduce Waste

During #PlasticFreeJuly, I won a competition on Instagram from Planet Vs Plastic, and my prize was a plastic-free gift box. This included a toothbrush and cotton buds, both made from fast-growing, sustainable bamboo. I am a little nervous of giving up my electric toothbrush altogether. So as a compromise, I’m using my bamboo and electric toothbrushes once a day, thus cutting in half my plastic use.

The bamboo cotton buds feel exactly the same as normal ones, without any plastic. They are 100% biodegradable and can go straight in the compost. They are more more expensive at £1.99 for 100. As a middle ground, up until now I’ve been using Sainsbury’s baby cotton buds, which are made of paper and 55p for 300.

You may be wondering what the little tablets are – well they are toothpaste! I got them from the The Refill Store I mentioned above when I was on holiday. You crush them between your teeth and brush with a wet toothbrush. They take a little getting used to but do foam up pretty well. I’m also using these once a day and sticking to my normal toothbrush at night as I have sensitive teeth and don’t want to risk them!

Swaps I’m Planning to Make to Reduce Waste

The next five swaps are ones I want to make in the next few months. Will you join me?

6. Swap Laundry Detergent for an EcoEgg to Reduce Waste

I have experimented with making my own eco-friendly washing liquid, which works really well. It’s not totally waste free as the ingredients have packaging, but it is super-concentrated, so does generate less packaging. Years ago, I tried Soap Nuts, but to be honest I didn’t think they worked very well. So my next try will be a Laundry Egg from Eco Egg.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ecoegg 🇬🇧 (@my_ecoegg) on

Eco Egg say, “The award winning Laundry Egg is a complete replacement for washing detergent. Just pop it in the drum of your washing machine – no powder, liquid, tablets or gels required. The two types of mineral pellets inside the egg get to work, producing powerful – cleaning foam which powers through the fibres lifting off the dirt and grime.” My cousin uses one and recommends it, so I think this will be worth a try.

7. Swap Cotton Wool Pads for Cotton Pads to Reduce Waste

I use a lot of cotton wool pads to remove my make-up. I love oil cleansing, and use a reusable washcloth to remove it. But then I use a micellar water on cotton wool to remove the last traces. I have tried some reusable cotton pads but I found the absorbed too much liquid, and were too rough, especially around my eyes. I have these cotton pads on my wishlist*, they look softer and less padded.

8. Swap Plastic Bottles for Glass Bottles to Reduce Waste

As we use up our ketchup, mayonnaise, and other sauce, which are in plastic squeezy bottles, I’m replacing them with glass versions. It feels a bit retro, but glass is so much easier to recycle than plastic, plus it’s so difficult to clean plastic squeezy bottles properly that I’m not sure they recycle successfully anyway. Glass doesn’t lose its integrity no matter how many times it’s recycled. Plastic, however can only be recycled a finite number of times, and eventually ends up in land fill, one way or another. Swap plastic sauce bottles for glass ones to reduce wasteI think changing back to glass is a small, easy way to reduce waste and although we will have to get used to upside ketchup bottles again, I don’t think that’s too much of a sacrifice!

Get Milk Delivered in Glass Bottles

I’m also going to get a milkman/lady. Friends of the Earth say, “between 1975 and 2015, the amount of milk sold in glass bottles shrank by 90%.”

Plastic milk containers are a typical single-use plastic and according to Friends of the Earth, “The number of times an average glass milk bottle is reused is around 15. And it can be as much as 50 times. Overall that makes re-usable milk bottles a more energy-efficient choice than disposable plastic.”

I looked up where to find a milk man who delivers glass bottles at the website Find Me A Milkman. Only Milk&More, who seem to be nationwide, deliver to my address. They also deliver other things, which could help cut our carbon footprint too. The milk is more expensive than from a supermarket, but I think for us, it would be worth it.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Milk & More (@freshmilkandmore) on

9. Have a Waste-Free Period

I’d like to reduce the waste from my period. Sanitary towels and tampons are not biodegradable, and will be hanging around our rubbish tip for hundreds of years. There are alternatives.

Menstrual Cups

Menstrual cups are worn internally like a tampon, but they collect blood, rather than absorbing it. The Mooncup is probably the best-known menstrual cup, which is £17.95 at Ethical Superstore*.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Mooncup® menstrual cup (@mooncupltd) on

Ethical Superstore also sell the OrganiCup, which is £18.95*.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by OrganiCup (@organicup) on

Both makes come in two different sizes and are made from medical grade silicone, which is hygienic and easy to clean. That means they are free from bleach, glue, perfume, chlorine and lotion, unlike most tampons and sanitary towels. OrganiCup say “the average woman uses 30 tampons or pads per month, that’s approximately 360 per year. That’s per person.” So investing under £20 will easily save money, and a lot of landfill after just a few months, as they last for a few years.

Meanwhile, Fair Squared Period Cups (£17.95*) are made of FSC certified fair trade natural latex, in a carbon-neutral factory in Germany.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Fair Squared UK (@fair_squared_uk) on

Fair Squared products are made from recycled, recyclable or compostable materials, and use reduced packaging wherever possible.

Re-useable Pads

Re-useable pads and liners are another option to reduce waste. Ethical Superstore have a wide selection of re-useable pads and liners*, so I am going to be looking into them, as I am not sure I’m ready to take the leap to a menstrual cup just yet.

If you’re interested in these products, you can use the code 8BGPB to get 8% off your order at Ethical Superstore*. 

Period Pants

Period pants are a relatively new idea to curb waste, and I’d be interested to try them. The ones that seem to get the best reviews are ModiBodi pants, which claim to be the original period pants, designed in Australia. They have lots of different styles, suitable for different flow levels, starting from £18 a pair. Whilst they aren’t plastic-free, they would mean you don’t need to use disposable towels or tampons.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Modibodi (@modibodiaustralia) on

A new British company called WUKA sell their own period pants. They are more expensive at £29, and only come in one style, but are made in England, which will reduce the carbon footprint. They seem to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly too.

Wuka period pants

© WUKA ltd. 2017

10. Reducing Food Waste

I am not the best at meal planning, so I intend to get better at this, to reduce waste. I have found a brilliant way to use up over-ripe bananas and avocados though – this gorgeous and healthy chocolate ‘mousse’ from the Captain Bobcat Blog. Ava absolutely loves it. Using up overripe fruit and veg are easy swaps you can make to reduce waste

I need to get back into composting too, to help use foodscraps and also hopefully improve our sadly neglected garden.

Looking for more ways to cut waste? Check out this post from Ethical Influencers, which has some great ideas.

I hope you’ve found my tips for reducing waste useful, I’d love to hear your ideas too, please leave me a comment!

Why not Pin this for later?10 easy swaps you can make to reduce waste, without compromising on your lifestyle


  1. Tina @

    19th September 2018 at 2:03 pm

    Fab tips – Except the teabags one…. Ours go into the compost heap so they aren’t waste anyway and the box is cardboard so they get recycled 🙂 I found your blog via the #bibs shortlist – good luck!

    1. Becky Pink

      19th September 2018 at 2:11 pm

      Thank you so much, I’m still in shock that I’m a finalist! Did you manage to find teabags that don’t have plastic in them? Almost all the ones I’ve looked into apart from the super expensive ones have plastic in them to help stick them together, so the plastic then gets into the compost heap xx

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.