Where to Start When Looking for Zero-Waste Alternatives
It can be difficult starting your zero-waste journey, especially since so many items are, by default, created, used, and discarded irresponsibly.
But don’t worry. We’ve got you covered!
Your best and easiest place to start is with everyday items and single-use products. Instead of immediately going online, look for zero waste products at your local stores, second-hand shops, or farmers market first.
The whole idea of going zero waste is to reduce the amount of waste we produce, so before you buy new eco-friendly, plastic-free products, use up what you currently have.
Full Disclosure: There are affiliate links below. If you purchase one of these items, Oath will receive a small commission for referring you. In the future, we hope to add all these zero waste alternatives to our catalog so you can shop in the least wasteful way possible.
Tips for Zero-Waste Online Shopping
Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s okay to occasionally slip up on your zero-waste journey. At the end of the day, it’s important to make smart choices. Even small changes in consumer behavior can add up to significantly reduce the amount of waste going to landfills.
When it comes to zero waste online shopping, you can always try and ask for plastic-free shipping at the checkout. Take a look at these tips from Kathryn to find out what you can do with your excess of bubble wrap, shipping plastic, and foam peanuts.
If you need to get rid of the plastic film used in shipping, poly mailers, or bubble mailers (separated from the paper). you can learn how and where to do it here.
Many personal care products use inordinate amounts of plastic and other wasteful materials and can be extremely harmful to the environment. Reduce your waste and switch to the following plastic-free products. They’re all compostable and easily recyclable.
Ditch your plastic toothbrush for bamboo. Bamboo is very strong, naturally anti-bacterial and water-resistant. The best part is you can compost the handle!
The handle is made of 100% biodegradable, sustainably grown bamboo, the bristles are BPA-free, and the packaging that these toothbrushes come in is FSC certified Kraft paper that is recyclable and compostable.
Bamboo toothbrushes will last as long as the typical plastic toothbrush. At Oath, we like to improve existing products to improve user experience and reduce their environmental impact.
We have made a few changes to the overall design. The head is smaller, bristles can easily reach your back teeth, the handle is thicker and more comfortable to hold, and the bristles are BPA-free nylon from Dupont. DuPont is the most well-known and has the highest quality toothbrush bristles available.
We chose nylon because it is the best material on the market for cleaning your teeth. Your oral health comes first. All of the “environmentally friendly alternatives are not up to our quality standards.
Another way to make your oral care routine plastic-free is by using natural, biodegradable silk floss. It’s sustainable and will keep both your teeth and our planet safe.
Oath’s floss is made of high-quality silk that comes from the cocoon of the mulberry silkworm. The cocoons are harvested after the moths have flown away, so no larvae are harmed in the process.
Silk floss is coated with candelilla wax, so it slides easily between teeth. It also comes in a refillable stainless-steel tube, so you can truly live your life zero waste.
To complete your oral care routine, you should consider opting for organic toothpaste. While we rarely think of the typical toothpaste as very polluting, it’s often tested on animals and harms our ecosystem. Not to mention that it contains numerous harmful chemicals:
● Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (can cause skin irritations and ulcers)
● Triclosan (can slow down blood circulation, affect your immune system, and build up antibiotic resistance)
● Propylene Glycol (can cause cancer and skin irritations)
● Artificial sweeteners (can have a harmful neurotoxic effect)
● Artificial Preservatives (potentially linked to breast cancer)
Using a natural, organic toothpaste can be as effective as any toothpaste, but it doesn’t contain any harmful substances and isn’t tested on animals. It usually doesn’t contain fluoride, although if you need fluoride in your toothpaste, you can find organic toothpaste that has it.
Organic toothpaste promotes better dental health, but it does have some downsides. Its taste and texture can be difficult to get used to, but that’s a small price to pay for going all-natural.
Some items such as plastic single-use straws and bags are already being banned in places around the world, so get a head start and switch to the following single-use alternatives.
Stainless Steel Straws
Stainless steel straws are an excellent zero waste alternative for anyone who wishes to reduce plastic and save marine life.
They’re BPA-free, durable, won’t rust, no metal taste and are non-toxic. They can last a lifetime, but if they get damaged or wear out, they can be easily recycled.
If you didn’t know, all metal can be recycled an infinite amount of times unlike plastic, which can only be recycled a few times before it heads to the landfill.
Don’t forget to wash them after every use. They come with a long cleaning brush, and they’re dishwasher safe, so you shouldn’t have any problems with keeping them clean.
To protect your teeth from hot or cold liquid and if you enjoy chewing on your straw, Oath’s come with silicon tips.
When it comes to cutlery, it’s easy to assume that bamboo utensils are a perfect solution. However, this is far from the truth.
While much better than single-use plastic cutlery, bamboo utensils are not truly the best solution for the environment. They break rather easily and wear out quickly, so you’ll find yourself buying them very frequently.
Not to mention they often have splinters, they’re thick, and overall hard to use.
The best zero waste solution is getting steel utensils to use both at home, and on the go. More than likely you already have enough cutlery at home. IF you don’t, buy them from a thrift store or garage sale. There’s no reason to buy new travel cutlery.
To make your life easier on the go, you can buy a cutlery carrying case, like the one above, or even make one yourself from old clothing or bed sheets.
Reusable Shopping Bags & Produce Bags
When choosing a reusable bag, it’s best to opt for organic, GOTS certified cotton. Polyester bags will help you reduce the amount of plastic waste you produce since you won’t be using plastic bags, but the problem is they’re difficult to recycle, and will most likely end up in a landfill one day.
That’s why organic cotton produce bags are your best choice. They’re completely biodegradable and can even be composted in your backyard. The only problem is that they tend to shrink slightly when washed.
Apart from produce bags, you should also use organic cotton grocery bags. They’re natural, sustainable, and strong, so you don’t have to worry about them ripping.
When it comes to getting a reusable water bottle, you have a few different options to choose from. Primarily, you can opt for silicone or plastic reusable bottles. They can be a fine choice – they’re durable and effective.
The problem is, however, that they cannot be properly recycled. When they wear out, chances are high that they’ll still end up in the landfill. These kinds of reusable water bottles aren’t your best choice.
Secondly, you can opt for a glass bottle. Easily recyclable, and eco-friendly, but unfortunately break easily if dropped, so you might find yourself buying new ones often.
Stainless steel water bottles, on the other hand, are much better. Steel can be recycled an infinite amount of times, making it a much more durable and eco-friendly solution.
The stainless steel doesn’t affect the taste of your drink, and it can keep your drinks colder for longer periods.
Coffee Travel Mug
Just as with your reusable water bottles, it’s always better to go with a stainless steel coffee travel mug when choosing one.
Mugs made of stainless steel have excellent insulation, so they can keep your drink hot (or cold) for much longer. They don’t rust, don’t transfer any metallic taste to your coffee, and don’t break easily.
This mug has a No Sweat design which prevents water drops from forming on the surface, and with a leak-proof lid, they can be safely carried in your backpack.
Another excellent single-use alternative is a stainless steel party cup. Like all other stainless steel, zero-waste products, these cups are durable, 100% recyclable, and will last you a lifetime.
They’re triple-insulated, ensuring your drink stays hot/cold. Made from non-toxic, BPA-free, and eco-friendly materials, using steel party cups will help you enjoy life without plastic.
These stainless-steel party cups also come with a removable lid that’s straw-friendly and even includes a stainless-steel straw.
The cups are unbreakable, and they’re safer and healthier than the typical plastic party cups or glass jars.
When meal-prepping, the typical go-to storage solution is a plastic Ziplock bag. If you want to take your lunch with you to the office, beach, or on a picnic, and reduce plastic waste, it’s much better to opt for a reusable sandwich bag.
These sandwich bags are BPA-free and contain no PVC, vinyl, phthalate, nor lead. They’re dishwasher safe and easy to wipe down. Made of single-ply fabric, you don’t have to worry about any bacteria growing in between the layers of this bag.
While using recyclable paper for your lunch bags is a responsible choice, it’s not always an optimal one, as any liquid can seep through. Reusable sandwich bags are waterproof and heat-sealed, making them the most economical and zero waste choice.
Reusable coffee pods can be an ideal solution for coffee-drinkers, as they’re made with a stainless-steel mesh filter and can be washed and reused very easily. You can grind your coffee, save money, and help save the planet.
For easier cleanup, you can use disposable paper filters that are completely biodegradable.
Both solutions will help you reduce the amount of waste you produce when making your morning coffee.
The kitchen is usually where you’ll produce most of your plastic (and other) waste. Fortunately, there are many plastic-free, sustainable alternatives available.
Pans & Baking Sheets
Non-stick, Teflon pans were all the rage when they first came out. However convenient they may be, they’re quite dangerous. These pans are coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which releases toxins when exposed to high temperatures.
These chemicals are not only harmful to your health but also pollute the environment. Discarding these pans in the landfill isn’t a viable solution.
For an eco-friendly solution, you should use either cast iron, nickel-free stainless steel, or ceramic pans. Use this 8-inch cast-iron skillet
or this 12.5-inch one to reduce your ecological footprint.
Cast iron can last a lifetime – it’s extremely durable. Just make sure to pre-season the pan to reduce sticking and avoid any scraping when you’re cleaning up.
Ceramic pans are another eco-friendly option. They’re non-stick, made of high-quality materials, and 100% toxin-free. Not as durable as cast iron skillets, but still a great, zero waste option.
Stoneware baking sheets can be a great option if you want zero waste products. They have excellent heat retention, and they don’t soak up odors, flavors, or oils. The problem is that they aren’t known for their durability, so stainless steel or iron is still your best option.
Lunch Bags / Boxes
Are you the kind of person who uses a plastic bag for your lunch?
Exchange it for stainless steel, reusable lunch box. As mentioned, stainless steel has many advantages, and you’ll end up using these boxes for many years to come. They’re BPA-free and toxin-free, so they’re completely safe to use.
These boxes have the double sealing feature, ensuring no spillage. The downside is that they can be slightly difficult to open. The double seal is rather strong, but the grip rings do help.
Apart from a stainless steel lunch box, you could also get an eco-friendly, organic cotton lunch bag. It’s a good size bag where you can pack a hefty lunch, and the cotton used to make it is 100% natural and unbleached. All seams are double-stitched, making this a highly durable lunch bag.
Every time you have leftovers, it’s likely that you rely on traditional plastic wrap to keep your food fresh for longer. Luckily, there’s a plastic-free solution for this as well.
Natural food storage wrap is made of hemp and cotton and is infused with beeswax, tree resin, and jojoba oil. It’s reusable and can last up to a year with proper care. You do want to be careful when washing it, though. To ensure its longevity, you should hand wash it with cold water and let it air-dry.
It’s self-adhesive, requiring only the warmth of your hand to mold. The downside is it tends to wear easily if you leave it out in hot temperatures, so refrain from using it in the microwave or oven.
The typical sponges that you use in your kitchen sink are particularly bad for the environment, and when they wear out you can exchange them for a few different items.
A copper scouring pad is excellent for removing food that’s stuck to your pots, and it’s a reliable solution that will last longer if you clean them properly. They’re a bit small but still very effective.
To go truly zero waste, you might want to consider a natural loofah – 100% biodegradable, these loofahs are made of plant-based materials and come in recyclable paper packaging. It’s a versatile product that you can use for your dishes, in the shower, and even on your face.
A natural pot brush is another great zero waste product. Durable, strong, and flexible all at once, pot brushes can be used for any cleaning purpose.
In the spirit of refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot, you can also use a rag or old clothing as your dish sponge, and reduce the total amount of waste you produce.
Silicone Baking Mats
A silicone baking mat can be a perfect zero-waste alternative. Made of 100% European LFGB-grade silicone. Non-stick, non-toxic, BPA-free, these mats are not only eco-friendly, but they’re very durable, not prone to drying out, shrinking, or cracking.
They can be safely used in the freezer, microwave, oven, and your dishwasher, and stay looking brand-new. Silicone baking mats truly have no downsides, and you can use them for baking almost anything.
They don’t soak up smells or flavors, and since they’re easily washable, you won’t waste your time scrubbing them. They can even help you maintain a healthier diet. Since they have a non-stick surface, you don’t have to add any extra butter or oil to keep your food from sticking.
Lastly, one of the best things you can do to reduce waste in the kitchen is to compost your food scraps. If you’re clueless about composting check out our ‘How to’ guide here[link]
One important tip when composting food waste is to leave out meat and dairy. You don’t want meat in your compost pile because it attracts animals. The last thing you want is a bear, coyote or even the neighbor’s dog snooping around your backyard.
A simple solution is to feed leftover meat to your dog. They will love you for it! (just remember to remove the bones) Or put it in your curbside compost bin.
Check out this bin. It’s the best we’ve found by far. It’s available in 3 sizes. The small one Is perfect for apartment living. To avoid a mess, you will want to use biodegradable plastic bags. When full, place them in a curbside commercial compost bin. Biodegradable bags will not compost in your backyard.
An alternative to using a plastic bag is paper. Wrap wet food scraps in scrap paper or old newspaper before throwing in the bin. You can also line the inside of the bin with newspaper or if you’re up to it, don’t line the bin at all and wash it out after you dump it.
The Bottom Line
These are just some zero waste alternatives that can help you reduce plastic waste and help you on a path to a plastic-free lifestyle.
As with any product, they do come with some advantages and disadvantages, but they are very beneficial both for you and for the environment. Start your zero-waste journey and stay informed about eco-friendly solutions with Oaths Essentials.
Please leave a comment and tell us about the products you’ve swapped for zero-waste.