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6 Zero Waste Investments That Are 100% Worth It

Is it  hypocritical to promote the buying of new stuff on a zero waste blog? I hope not, because the following items were bought new (our could be bought new) and have proven to have such a great ROI that it would feel insincere to not share. And besides, while we usually try to make-do with what we already have, we are far from reaching the zero in zero waste. The key to making something sustainable is buying only what you truly need, taking care of it, and using it for as long as possible.

A coffee grinder

I actually didn’t buy this new, but I thought about buying one for a long time before my grandma gave me her old spice/bean grinder. I can now buy coffee beans in bulk without having to grind them at the store. Whole beans last a lot longer than ground coffee, so I don’t rush through my coffee supply. And freshly-ground coffee tastes a lot better, so I’m less inclined to go out and buy coffee at a coffee shop. 

A French press

The French press goes hand in hand with the coffee grinder for the PERFECT cup of zero waste coffee. With the French press, I almost look forward to the process of brewing the coffee just as much as taking that first delicious sip. The ritual is just SO satisfying. And easy! There’s no need for a disposable filter or a k-cup. Coffee beans can be found in bulk sections and used coffee grounds can be composted! I always carefully clean the press after each use to ensure it lasts for years to come. My recommendation? The Bodum Chambord.

A sewing machine

Ok, I didn’t buy this new either, but it still would’ve been worth it if I had. I have long been guilty of hoarding old clothes that I don’t wear anymore because I maintain the delusion that Buffalo Exchange will want to buy them next season. Of course, this isn’t so. Most of these clothes are remnants of my fast-fashion days, and they were designed to be prematurely unwanted. But thanks to my sewing machine, I’ve begun to chip away at my mountain of obsolete fashion, transforming it into a new mountain of upcycled produce bags, pillow cases, and bar soap pouches that I can give away to friends and family. I’m now working on a very pretty patchwork outboard engine cover that my husband loves.  

A good bicycle

In Los Angeles, it’s not uncommon for biking to be faster than driving. I used to creak around the city on my badly rusted beach cruiser, but the level of physical exertion didn’t lend the enthusiasm to bike instead of drive. A few years ago, I invested in a really nice bicycle - a Surly Long Haul Trucker - with the intent of riding it through Central America. Although I abandoned the trip a few hundred miles down the Panamerican highway, I kept the bike. It’s such a fun, fast, and smooth ride I actually looked forward to my twenty mile round trip work commute. And there’s simply nothing better than cruising around all those stationary cars. My own car doesn’t get used much anymore, I spend hardly any money on gas, and I don’t waste any time in traffic. 

An insulated stainless steel mug/tumbler

The reusable tumbler for drinks on the go is a common zero waste staple. However, I’ve found I prefer mine 100% of the time, not just when stopping by my favorite coffee shop.  It’s insulated so coffee, tea (whatever it may be!) stays hot far longer than it would sitting in ceramic or glass. That’s a huge plus. The trick to making this investment truly sustainable? As with all zero waste swaps, buy only what you need, take care of it and use it forever. I’ve had my Miir Camp Cup for years and I use it at least twice a day (coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon!). It comes with me to coffee shops, on camping trips, and on morning walks to the beach. While it can be tempting when new colors and designs hit the shelves, I know one is all I really need.

The Berkey water filter

Keeping with the tradition of saving the best for last, the Berkey is the absolute best zero-waste investment. It’s on the pricey side, but this sleek gravity-fed water filter removes chlorine, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, and more from tap water. And not to mention, it makes any water taste amazingly clean. I was perpetually dehydrated until I bit the bullet, but now I have tasted truly clean water and I don’t want to drink anything else. Every time I leave home, I take a bottle of my Berkey water with me. And I never, ever want to taste plasticky water again.

Is there anything you’ve bought that has helped you cut down on waste? Let us know in the comments below!

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