6 Easy Zero Waste Swaps For Your Home
We are far from a perfect zero waste household and knowing this used to overwhelm me with guilt. But I’m really trying to cut myself some slack! The world we’ve inherited makes it pretty dang hard to leave no footprints behind. From the temptations of fast, cheap fashion to the single use plastic wrapping at the grocery store. Our lives are jammed-packed and busy, making just grabbing something quick and convenient all too enticing. So you find yourself grabbing that plastic-wrapped granola bar, picking up that to-go coffee in a disposable cup and ordering those pants that you just didn’t have the time to hunt down secondhand (and honestly couldn’t afford from the more reputable brand that you’d totally buy from if you could). You cringe all along the way knowing that you know better. But sometimes, it’s just HARD.
We’ve slowly tried to implement more eco-friendly practices around our home and so many of them are affordable and downright easy! It’s just a matter finally committing to a new routine or switching out a wasteful product you’ve grown a little too accustomed to. Below are just a few swaps we’ve been pretty happy with that weren’t hard at all (or too expensive!) to adapt to!
1. Dish Brush ~$10WOW, game changer in the kitchen. Sponges get super gross and they’re insanely wasteful! A new one every couple of weeks for a year? Year after year? That’s hundreds of sponges. And where are they now? Sittin’ and takin’ up space in a landfill. We’ve switched over to a wooden dish brush with tampico bristles. The brush head can be removed and replaced when it’s ready to retire to the compost! Our last dish brush head lasted a whole year! It was easy to clean and sanitize and never got stinky like sponges used to. Plus, it’s affordable. The dish brush was about $10. Replacement heads about $5.
2. Bamboo Toothbrush ~$5.00
I do recognize that this switch is a bit pricier than the plastic alternative. But if you have the means, it’s one of the easiest switches you can make! Before switching to bamboo I’m sure I had gone through dozens if not over a hundred plastic toothbrushes. Realizing that every single one of them still exists somewhere in the world today is sobering. It’s easy to forget about your waste when the trash truck comes to take it away. But coming to the realization that there is no “away” will haunt you (at least it sure haunts me!). I love that for the most part (bristles excluded) the bamboo toothbrush is biodegradable and compostable.
3. Swap out paper towels for reusable cloths FREE-$20
While controversial, we chose a pack of microfiber cloths and have been paper towel free for several years now! (More on the controversy later). We use our microfiber cloths for cleaning the kitchen, bathroom, and windows and for dusting surfaces around the apartment. When I think about the rolls of paper towels we used to go through and how those towels are likely to still exist somewhere in a landfill, it feels pretty good knowing we’re no longer contributing to that waste!
Before settling on microfiber cloths, we had tried cut up repurposed cloth to use as cleaning towels. For a while, I was proud that not only were we no long producing paper towel waste, but also we had recycled old cloths. However, the fabric fell apart quickly and didn’t end up being great for dusting. This is why we went with microfiber cloths. I want to take a moment to acknowledge how problematic microfiber cloths have the potential to be. They are petroleum based (made of plastic) and when washed, they can shed micro plastic fibers that end up in water streams. We plan to use our cloths for years and years to come and always wash them in our Guppy bag that catches those plastic fibers, keeping them out of our waterways and ultimately, out of the ocean. But if your repurposed old cut up t-shirts work for you, that’s amazing!
4. A French Press or Paperless Pour Over $20-$40
I never thought I’d be one of those people that wakes up and the first thing on the brain is COFFEE. But here I am, centering my morning around coffee and feeling irrationally upset if for some reason or another, coffee doesn’t happen. I love that our French press eliminates a lot of the waste that comes along with coffee addiction. No wasteful Keurigs, no single use coffee filters, and no disposable to go cups from a coffee shop. We try to get our beans in larger quantities (we get ours in a tin can), we grind them at home, French press our coffee, and compost the grounds! A paperless pour over coffee dripper is a great option, too!
5. A Menstrual Cup ~$25.00-$40.00
Admittedly, it took me a while to give it a try. I knew it was better, but I was so comfortable with tampons, I was nervous to switch it up. Plus, it was expensive for me at the time. $30 felt like a lot in the moment to shell out, but I’ve more than made up for it now in what I’ve saved on tampons. It ended up being such an easy switch! Over the course of a year, that’s more than 100 tampons saved from the landfill.
6. Dryer Balls $16.00-$24.00
Even if you had never in your life heard of the concept of zero waste, you’d want to make the switch to dryer balls simply because they can be so stinkin’ cute. Friendsheep has tons of adorable hand stitched designs that make your heart melt (at least mine does every time I look at them). There’s no longer any need for dryer sheets or liquid fabric softener. These guys do the trick and make laundry a little more fun along the way.
When it feels like I'm not doing enough, I try to remember these little things I am doing. In a year, that's roughly 20 kitchen sponges, 4 plastic toothbrushes, 365 paper coffee filters, Keurig cups, or disposable coffee cups (whichever it would've been!), 150 tampons, 52 dryer sheets (or a couple plastic containers fabric softener came in), and countless paper towels saved from the landfill.
That's just one year. And that's only the aforementioned swaps. There are plenty more zero waste swaps to be made, and we'll continue tackling them while at the same time trying not to lose sight of all of the positive changes we've made so far!