When I began my Zero Waste lifestyle, I found the below swaps were the best way to emit single-use plastics and unnecessary packaging from my life. I’m not saying you need to rush out and buy a Keepcup or a brand new canvas bag, instead look to what you already have inside your home to make these swaps
REUSABLE BAGS instead of PLASTIC BAGS
This is one of the easiest swaps. Everyone has some sort of reusable bag floating around their house, if not – “borrow” one from a friend or buy one from the op shop and put it in your handbag or keep it near the door or in your car. That way you will always have one near you and won’t have to use a plastic bag.
When buying fruit and vegetables, consider letting them go “naked” (they have their own natural skins) or using some cloth produce bags. These can be bought or you can even sew them up yourself. Try to choose a natural fabric so they can decompose when no longer needed.
I use some lingerie bags and clothing bags from when I purchased clothing
REUSABLE COFFEE CUP instead of TAKEAWAY CUPS
I’ve never been one to purchase a takeaway drink often, basically because I like to make it at home to save money. But I did purchase a takeaway coffee mug from T2 a few years ago to carry my smoothies and teas out and about. I still have it, but I recently upgraded to a Keep Cup as I just love the look. I pursued my fiancé to purchase one too as he travels for work a lot.
A travel mug isn’t a necessary Zero Waste purchase, but it does make getting a coffee a lot easier! You could also use an old glass jar or even just grab a mug from the cupboard. Some places even offer a discount for using your own cup.
Nothing annoys me more when I see people having a ‘takeaway’ coffee sitting down. It would be so much better for you and the environment to sip your beverage out of ceramic, glass or BPA free cup.
REUSABLE STRAWS instead of PLASTIC STRAWS
Every time I see an old photo of me holding a drink with a straw in it, I cringe. Plastic straws are one of the worst things for the environment – Do I really need to link the video of the turtle with a straw stuck up his nose?
I could rant on forever about the evils of straws (read about it here), but instead, I will show you some pretty alternatives. Or you could even just go straw free – remember to say “no straw please” when out an about.
REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE instead of PLASTIC DRINK BOTTLE
Despite never being one to buy bottled water when out, I love the idea of a reusable drink bottle. I actually used to refill a VOSS glass bottle and use that as my dink bottle, but after smashing quite a few – I decided to purchase a stainless steel bottle. It has actually been a great choice, not only am I drinking cleaner water (plastic particles leak into the water in plastic bottles), I am saving money by not buying water when out and about!
I purchased my little bottle from here, there are so many other brands out there. I recommend Biome, Shop Naturally, and The Source. They all carry their own brand or many brands of reusable drink bottles.
BAMBOO TOOTHBRUSH instead of PLASTIC TOOTHBRUSH
In Australia, over 30 million toothbrushes are used and disposed of by Australians each year, amounting to approximately 1000 tonnes of landfill each year! So basically, your very first toothbrush is still lurking in landfill somewhere…
I made the switch to bamboo toothbrushes months ago now, I found that they felt better in my mouth and I wasn’t using any plastic. WIN!
Although, most bamboo toothbrushes do have nylon bristles which cannot decompose like the handle can. I keep my old bamboo toothbrushes for cleaning, but the best way to dispose of them is to snap the head off or pull out the bristles then put the handle in your compost and the bristles in a jar to prevent them going into landfill. I know this is what Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home does.
I purchase my bamboo toothbrushes from an organics store on Smith St, but all the stores I linked above carry a variety of brand with the Environmental Toothbrush being a popular choice.
MENSTRUAL CUP instead of TAMPONS/PADS
Since an average person menstruates for forty years and uses approximately 20 tampons/pads per cycle (240 tampons/pads each year). They will use around 9,600 tampons/pads for their entire menstrual lifecycle. Most of these are FLUSHED down the toilet!!!
I honestly cannot sing the praises of using a menstrual cup instead of a tampon! It has honestly been one of the biggest changes of my zero waste journey!
Yes, it does take a bit of getting used to, but once I got the hang of it – I found it easy. There is a ton of helpful information on how to use a cup online and the brands themselves answer any questions you have.
The brand I use is JuJu. I chose this one because it was made in Australia and was recommended to me by a friend. Although the cost is more expensive up front, you can save up to an average of $90 a year!
Read more about the environmental issues of the humble tampon here
There are many more Zero Waste swaps I could tell you about, but I might leave those for another post. The above are some of the first changes I made when transitioning to a plastic-free lifestyle. All these changes are environmentally friendly, save you money and contribute to a smaller carbon footprint. They are also better looking than any of the single-use products out there!
So make a change, the Zero Waste/Plastic Free lifestyle is a growing movement
Become apart of it
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Zero Waste lifestyle, leave me a comment below