Life & Style

12 Easy Zero Waste Swaps to Help You Be Eco-Friendly

{Ad-Review} Some products gifted in a previous unpaid collaboration. All opinions are honest, as always. This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click through a link and buy something, I may receive a small commission. Find my full disclosure policy here.

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 still a looooong way off for me. Here are twelve easy zero waste swaps you can start doing right now, to reduce waste in your home and when you’re out an about. Remember, it’s not about doing zero waste perfectly – it’s about everyone doing it imperfectly!

This list is by no means exhaustive – please leave me a comment with any other ideas. I’m sure there are lots I can add!

12 Easy Zero Waste Swaps to Help You Be Eco-Friendly

Easy Zero Waste Swap 1: Reusable Drinks Bottles, Cups, and Bags

I’ll start with the quickest and easiest zero waste swap, and hopefully one you’ve already made! When you buy bottled water, you’re actually paying for that single-use plastic bottle: what a waste on every level. There are so many nice reusable bottles out there, we have several for each family member. My favourite is a £5 metal one from Wilko.

Cups-wise, coffee shop are always happy to put my drink in my reusable cup, and some give a discount. Again I have a few, as I use them all the time so need enough that I have a clean one when the others are in the dishwasher. I’d also recommend having one for tea and one for coffee if you drink both, as sometimes they can hold a faint coffee flavour which will ruin your tea! My favourites are from KeepCup, which I use for tea. It’s light and strong, made of recycled plastic and dishwasher safe.

My metal and bamboo cup is brilliant for keeping hot drinks hot, as it’s insulated. It’s also lightweight and because it has a stainless steel inner, you could use this for tea and coffee.

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. I also have fab reusable net bags for loose fruit and veg at the supermarket. They work so well and are such an easy zero waste swap.

If you have kids, I recommend getting a reusable icepop mould. We have saved so many ice lolly wrappers and sticks from landfill by using these. I have a couple of sets, from Ikea and Tiger. Yes, they are plastic and silicone, but I’ll use them over and over.

Easy Zero Waste Swap 2: Glass Bottles

Whilst some plastics can be recycled, that can only happen a finite number of times before becoming useless. Eventually, it ends up in land fill, one way or another, so the best thing to do is avoid it where you can. Glass, however, doesn’t lose its integrity no matter how many times it’s recycled.

Glass Milk Bottles

We have swapped plastic single-use milk containers for glass ones thanks to our milkman or lady. 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.”

Milk bottles in front of a pink door

It’s a really easy zero waste swap. The milk (and other goodies) get delivered to your doorstep, and then the empty bottles get collected for reuse.

If you want to find your own milkperson, look here: Find Me A Milkman. Only Milk&More, who seem to be nationwide, deliver to my address. The milk is more expensive than from a supermarket, but for us, it is worth it.

Glass Condiment Bottles

I now also buy glass condiments bottles and jars instead of the squeezy ones. It feels a bit retro, but glass is so much easier to recycle than plastic for recycling.

I think changing back to glass is a small, easy zero waste swap. We are now used to storing our ketchup upside down again, like in the 80s.

Easy Zero Waste Swap 3: Tea Leaves

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 now use 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 zero waste swaps

Want to reduce water waste? You might like to read this post about the free water-saving kit you can get from Anglian Water.

Easy Zero Waste Swap 4: Plastic-Free Fruit and Veg

I’ve found it’s virtually impossible to go zero waste at the supermarket. Luckily I have found a great greengrocers near me who deliver a lovely plastic-free fruit and veg box to our house.

Zero waste plastic free fruit and veg box

My favourite bulk-buy cooperative, Daily Bread, has also swapped their packaging from plastic to biodegradable packaging. If they can do it, why can’t the huge supermarkets?

Easy Zero Waste Swap 5: Refill Store

I am so happy to see Refill Stores popping up around the country. Our local refill company here in Milton Keynes is called My Refill Market. 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!

I’ve visited a fab refill store on holiday in Cornwall, and The Refill Pantry in St Albans is also great. I wanted to buy everything but just got a reusable sandwich wrap, some loose leaf tea and Beauty Kubes shampoo.

Zero waste shopping from a refill store

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

Easy Zero Waste Swap 6: Beeswax Wraps

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. I use one to wrap up an apple when I go out, to cover bowls in the fridge, and to wrap up blocks of cheese.

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. I also got Ava a reusable sandwich pouch (pictured above) for her school lunchbox recently, which she loves.

Easy Zero Waste Swap 7: Household Cleaning

Our homes produce a lot of waste, from washing clothes alone! I’ve tried a few easy zero waste swaps you might like to try too.

Zero Waste Laundry

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 waste. Years ago, I tried Soap Nuts, but to be honest I didn’t think they worked very well. So I’m now using a Laundry Egg from Eco Egg with great results.

Blue Eco Egg is an easy zero waste swap

“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 cleaning foam which powers through the fibres lifting off the dirt and grime.

Eco Egg

You can read my full review of the Eco Egg here, and see how much money it saves us.

I also kept my last laundry liquid bottle and refill this when I can, as sometimes I miss the nice laundry liquid smell.

Natural Zero Waste Cleaning

I also use a natural loofah sponge to wash dishes, £2.75 from LoofCo at Ethical Superstore. It’s kind of crispy when it’s dry, but when you soak it in water it softens up and cleans without scratching. They last up to a year, and can be composted when they wear out. Way better than a plastic foam sponge, and so much more eco-friendly. I refill my washing up liquid at a refill store.

Eco-Friendly zero waste Cleaning and Washing up with Tincture

Easy Zero Waste Swap 8: Reusable Cotton Pads

I use a lot of cotton wool pads to remove my make-up. I use an eye make-up remover, followed by oil cleansing, where I use a reusable washcloth to remove it all. Then I use a micellar water on a pad to remove the last traces. So I was using a minimum of two cotton wool pads a night, until I invested in some reusable make-up remover pads from Cheeky Wipes. I have these cotton pads on my wishlist to try as I use so many, I need another pack!

Easy Zero Waste Swap 9: Bamboo Bathroom Essentials

Every plastic toothbrush and cotton bud the human race has ever used is still hanging about on Earth. Swapping a plastic toothbrush for one with a bamboo handle is an easy zero waste swap.

Bamboo has loads of environmental benefits, as one of the fastest growing plants on the earth. It’s actually not a wood, but belongs to the grass family. It is renewable, as bamboo forests can be grown in a few years. As well as reducing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen, it also consumes a lot of nitrogen, which can help reduce water pollution. Bamboo also biodegrades, unlike plastic.

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! 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 toothpaste at night.

Easy Zero Waste Swap 10: Zero Waste Toiletries

Bathrooms tend to be full of plastic bottles, and ours is no different. I am trying a few zero waste swaps, with great success, and will be trying more! So far, we have zero waste sun cream, deodorant and shampoo. The Green People reef-safe suncream has plastic-free packaging made from sugar cane, which is also fully recyclable. The Shade all-natural sunscreen and Elsa’s natural deodorant come in metal reusable or recyclable tins. Earth Conscious deodorant and Beauty Kubes are packaged in cardboard.

Sun cream, deodorant and shampoo easy zero waste swaps

We also have hand soap and I will be investigating conditioner soaps and washing up soaps next. I recommend getting a bamboo sleigh-style soap disk to allow the soap to drain, otherwise it can get slimy.

Easy Zero Waste Swap 11: Eco-Friendly Periods

It is possible to have a (more) comfortable and eco-friendly period! Here are some easy zero waste swaps you can try too.

Period Pants

Modibodi sent me some period pants to review for my guide to having an eco-friendly festival, and I’m a convert.

“Modibodi™ uses high quality natural fabrics and breathable tech-savvy blends (Bamboo, Merino Perform Wool and Microfibre) with the latest in antimicrobial fibres for a soft, silky fit.”

Modibodi

I like the Classic Bikini pants in Black. You can use them alone on heavy period days, or overnight for protecting your sheets.

Wearing a Boody Bamboo vest and Modibodi period pants
  • The top layer quickly wicks away moisture, fights bacteria and stops smells
  • The middle layer safely absorbs fluid and locks it away (2.5-20mls)
  • The bottom layer is extra waterproof protection

These pants are surprisingly comfortable and much less bulky than wearing normal pants and a traditional sanitary pad. It’s also lovely not to have the wings poking out! They feel quite silky and are true to size.

You’ll need a few pairs, and they are an investment. But even if you rely on tampons, cups or pads for some of the time, using these pants will cut down on your waste.

Menstrual Cups and Reusable Pads

Another easy zero waste swap for more eco-friendly periods is using a menstrual cups. They are 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. Ethical Superstore also sell the OrganiCup, which is £18.95.

Both makes come in two different sizes. They 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 £20 will easily save money after just a few months, as they last for a few years. And the environmental benefits are even better!

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

Re-useable pads and liners are another easy zero waste swap. Ethical Superstore have a wide selection of re-useable pads and liners.

Easy Zero Waste Swap 12: Reducing Food Waste

Using up overripe fruit and veg are easy swaps you can make to reduce waste

I am not the best at meal planning, but when I do, it really does help reduce food 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. 

I also love this lemon and courgette cake recipe from Nigella Lawson to use courgettes (which I hate, but sometimes come in our veg box). And who doesn’t like a lovely sweet and squidgy banana loaf, perfect to use up ‘dead’ bananas. 

Freezing left over food is also a winner. How many times have you thrown away half a bottle of pasta sauce as it’s been lurking in the fridge too long? My sister uses an ice cube tray to freeze leftover pesto, and juts pops out a couple of cubes when she needs them. I slice up partially used lemons and freeze the slices – perfect for a G and T! I also try to compost veg peelings, tea leaves and other food scraps.

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?

12 Easy Zero Waste Swaps to Help You Be Eco-Friendly, Every Day

4 Comments

  1. Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love)

    6th September 2019 at 9:45 am

    Love these tips. I do a few of these already but you’ve given me a few more ideas of ways that I can be more eco-friendly. We’ve just switched to using washable cloth wipes as our latest swap. I’ve used cloth nappies on all three of my children but it’s taken me a long time to make the switch when it comes to wipes. Making my own washing up liquid and dishwasher tablets is something I want to try doing too.

    1. Becky Pink

      6th September 2019 at 9:57 am

      Thanks so much for reading Louise, reusable wipes is a great one! We are past that stage but it gives me the horrors thinking of all the wipes we used when the girls were babies. Xx

  2. Anonymous

    3rd September 2019 at 10:40 pm

    Hi that’s really helpful, thanks. I’ve finally found some plastic free tea bags, Clipper, they’ve just started not wrapping their cardboard packaging in plastic and the box confirms there’s no plastic in the bags. Result!

    1. Becky Pink

      3rd September 2019 at 11:01 pm

      Oooh thanks for the tip, so pleased they have made a change, I will look out for them next time I shop xx

What do you think? You're welcome to comment without your name, email or website if you prefer.

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