Sure, you know how easy it is to buy a reusable water bottle or coffee cup, and you always bring your own grocery bags to the store with you, but what about the less well-known parts of a zero-waste lifestyle? There are plenty of wasteful day-to-day habits that we don't even think about!
Here are a few simple starters to really feel like you're making an impact in reducing your waste.
Ditch your cotton balls!
If you're like me, you have a need for two or three cotton balls or cotton rounds every day. This is an incredible amount of waste produced by just one person in a month or in a year. There's an easy solution — washable cotton rounds! Not only will you save money on disposable cotton balls, but you can find these replacements in many types of fabric that come with a laundry bag and are easy to wash! Plus, they can serve as makeup wipes when paired with micellar water or other types of makeup remover — reducing your waste in that area as well!
Buy local soap and shampoo bars.
A nice bar of hand soap always looks nice in a dish by the sink, but you can step up the aesthetic by adding in a facial wash bar, shampoo bar, and even conditioner bar! Buy local, unpackaged soaps and check natural grocery stores or community farmers markets to find natural washes of all kinds! Not only will you be supporting local businesses and reducing your plastic consumption, but you'll also be treating your body with natural ingredients.
Find a compostable bamboo toothbrush.
This one's easy! Next time you go to buy a toothbrush, instead of buying a plastic stick packaged in plastic, reach for a bamboo toothbrush instead. At the end of its life, it can be composted and will decompose literally hundreds of years before a plastic toothbrush would. You can even get a subscription from companies like Giving Brush. Plus, check out brands like Bite for toothpaste tablets that come in refillable glass containers to cut out the plastic and nasty chemicals from your dental routines.
Grab a set of bamboo utensils.
When the drive-thru bag is void of any utensils, you won't have to dig through the glove-box for an old plastic fork, you'll be ready to dig in with your bamboo set! These literally come in handy all the time! Buying yogurt at Starbucks? Don't pick up one of their plastic spoons. Picnicking? Grab your light set of bamboo utensils so you don't have to drag along heavy silverware or waste plastic ones! Plus, you can find them relatively cheap, and the sets are well worth the lifespan of the product!
Switch to a menstrual cup or washable fabric pads.
A menstrual cup may not be the most comfortable idea for everyone, but switching from disposable tampons to a cup is a huge reduction in waste. They can be a bit of an investment initially, but can literally last you your whole menstruating life. Or, if you're not ready to take that leap yet, opt for reusable fabric pads. These can be easily washed, and are incredibly more sustainable than the massive amounts of plastic that goes into the production and packaging of disposable pads.
Buy - or make! - beeswax food wraps.
Stop struggling to stretch cling wrap over your dishes and switch to beeswax food wraps! These wraps can be found from companies such as Bee's Wrap, or you can easily make it at home with some wax and cloth scraps. Plus, check farmer's markets or community #ZeroWaste hashtags to see if you can buy it locally. They're easy to care for and are long-lasting, so they're a good product to start collecting.
Use a biodegradable glitter!
This one's a bit more abstract. Glitter is something that literally flies under the radar, so most people don't think about it. However, glitter is generally a PET plastic material, so it's actually contaminating the environment when it gets loose. This glitter from the Package Free Shop is plant-based, so it's biodegradable. All the more reason to sprinkle on that little sparkle!
Ditch deodorants in plastic containers.
There's no reason to be buying a stick of deodorant completely covered in plastic when the plastic-free alternative is easy and safe! Buy or make your own deodorant in glass jars or reused containers for a natural alternative to the stick deodorants that literally block your sweat glands to stop your underarms from smelling. There are many companies such as Schmidt's (they even refill your empty containers when you send them in) that will keep you smelling nice without adding to the linear economy of plastic production.
Swap your plastic razor for a metal one.
Many of us are in the habit of reaching for our plastic razors on a day-to-day basis (at least in the warmer weather when our legs are exposed to the world), but these razors have an incredibly short lifespan and end up abundantly present in landfills. The easiest alternative? A metal razor, that will last forever and works just as well, if not better, than a cheap plastic razor. The replacement blades are cheap and come packaged without any plastic.
Pick reusable cloth diapers over disposable ones.
Anyone who's been around babies knows that they go through a lot of diapers, which end up directly in landfills. What's more, diapers aren't even supposed to be tossed. It can take up to 500 years for a disposable diaper to decompose, and the fecal matter inside of them can contaminate groundwater and spread disease. The best option here is clearly to ask for cloth diapers at those baby showers and wash them between uses for an environmentally (and baby) friendly solution!
Every little bit counts. These everyday products might not seem like a lot, but you'll soon realize that many alternatives save you money in the end and are healthier than the plastic products and practices we're surrounded by. There are many creative low- or zero- waste people out there with tips, tricks, and products to use to avoid creating waste.
Follow hashtags on Instagram or subscribe to YouTubers who practice living zero-waste lifestyles. Do your part by supporting brands whose goals and methods you agree with and by switching to alternatives to the disposable stuff we use so much of today.
Keep learning, try your best, and hold yourself to your values.