There are some zero waste products that I think are essential to reduce your personal waste and plastic usage. I believe they make such a huge impact that it is worth the investment in a proper zero waste alternative.
So I have put together this list of must have zero waste products which I have broken down into the categories of:
Zero Waste Lifestyle Products
1. Reusable Coffee Cup
We throw away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year in the UK and only 0.25% of them get recycled. So our takeaway coffee habit creates a mountain of waste.
By switching to a reusable coffee cup you can save all those cups from going to landfill. If you drink just two takeaway coffees a week that is still over 100 cups a year you can eliminate from the dump.
So if you’re a coffee lover on the go a lot one of the first zero waste products you should think about getting is a reusable coffee cup.
We make reusable coffee cups from naturally sustainable bamboo. They have a screw on bamboo fibre lid to minimise spills plus they don’t taint the taste of your drink or create an unpleasant smell the way a silicone lid does. A thick grooved silicone sleeve reduces the surface area in contact with your hot drink providing extra protection for your hand and better grip.
2. Reusable Water Bottle
Plastic water bottles are another one of our convenience habits that is creating huge amounts of waste. We plow through 7.7 billion plastic water bottles in the UK each year. That means we each use 150 bottles a year on average which is more than three a week.
Whilst our used plastic bottles can be recycled many are simply binned ultimately finding their way into our oceans and rivers. Recycle Now estimate that 16 million plastic bottles a day end up in rubbish destined for landfill.
So a reusable water bottle is one of the essential zero waste products that you can invest in. They can also save you a lot of money as well. Did you know that 90% of the cost of a bottle of water is for the bottle itself? Switch to a reusable water bottle and it’ll soon pay for itself.
I recommend going for one that includes double wall insulation like these stainless steel water bottles. These maintain the temperature inside regardless of the temperature outside. They’ll keep your drinks cold for up to 24 hours and hot for up to 12 hours.
3. Reusable Straw
According to DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) we use 4.7 billion plastic straws each year in England. These figures have led the UK Government to introduce a ban on plastic straws which comes into effect in April 2020.
However, the use of other disposable straws made from paper and other materials will still be possible. Single use disposable straws create more waste than reusable ones even when they are made of sustainable materials like grass straws and pasta straws.
A reusable straw is the perfect sustainable alternative and there are many options to consider. My favourite are these reusable bamboo straws which come in a pack of 12. They include a carry case and are split into two sizes with one for thick drinks like smoothies and the other for juices. A cleaner is included as well so you can make sure they are always ready for your next drink.
If you prefer something else to bamboo then try reusable glass straws or stainless steel straws instead. I also really love collapsible straws as they are so easy to carry around. These telescopic steel straws come in a two pack and fold down into a carry case you can attach to your keyring. Very handy for making sure you always have your straw on you and don’t lose it!
4. Travel Cutlery Set
Sometimes it’s nice to be able to grab a takeaway or something to eat on the go. However, usually this also means a lot of disposable packaging and sometimes cutlery as well.
The EU found that plastic cutlery and stirrers are one of the top ten most common plastic items found on European beaches. In fact, they have now implemented a ban on plastic cutlery along with five other plastic products which kicks in from 2021. You can find out more about this in my article on single use plastic bans.
So a reusable travel cutlery set should be crucial part of your must have zero waste products. This simple bamboo cutlery set includes everything you need including a knife, fork, spoon, straw and cleaner. It also comes in a lightweight jute pouch so it is easy to carry and keep everything together.
5. Beeswax Wraps
If you use clingfilm or tin foil for wrapping up and storing food you’ll know using disposables like these creates a lot of waste. There are also concerns about harmful chemicals leaching into food from clingfilm although, as long as you stick to the instructions, it should be safe to use.
The easiest solution to reducing this waste and to put your mind at ease about those chemicals is to simply stop using them. Beeswax wraps are the perfect alternative. They have natural antibacterial properties that help keep food fresh and also means you can use them over and over again.
To reuse them these beeswax wraps just need washed with a little clean water and soap then hung up to dry. If you use them a few times a week they should last a year. You can then easily dispose of them in your compost and they will biodegrade naturally.
I fully confess to being a recovering supermarket meal deal addict. They are so convenient and pretty cheap as well so can be an attractive option when grabbing lunch on the go.
However, when I realised just how much plastic waste they create I decided to go back to making my own lunch. Hubbub research suggests the UK is generating 10.7 billion separate pieces of meal deal related waste a year with most not being recycled. We are generating an average of 276 items each.
Whilst making your lunch might be more effort the impact it can make on reducing lunch meal deal waste is huge. But there is another pitfall to avoid. If you take your lunch in something disposable like clingfilm or tin foil then you are still creating unnecessary waste.
A return to a good old fashioned lunch box is the best way to make your lunch zero waste. If you just want a box for sandwiches or dry food you don’t need to worry about it being leakproof. So I would recommend a simple lunchbox like this bamboo bento box. The lid is made from solid bamboo and the box itself from bamboo fibre. There is a silicone seal on the lid to keep your food fresh and everything is secured with an elasticated fabric strap.
If you want to take liquids for your lunch like soup, stew or curry then it is definitely worth investing in a leakproof lunchbox. These tend to be more expensive but the cost is worth it to save your bag or clothes from getting covered in your lunch!
This double lunchbox has two compartments and is hermetically sealed to prevent leaks. It also comes with its own cutlery set and sauce jar as well.
7. Reusable Shopping Bags
With the introduction of the plastic bag charge most people now prefer reusable shopping bags. However, all too often we forget to take our bags with us and end up having to buy more. I think this is usually the case because the bags for life you get in supermarkets are bulky and not easy to keep on you.
I prefer using cotton net shopping bags as they can be scrunched up into a small ball and easily carried about or kept in your car. You don’t have to compromise on capacity either as they naturally expand when you start to fill them.
Zero Waste Bath Products
8. Bamboo Toothbrush
Did you know that the average person uses 300 toothbrushes in their lifetime? We use 3.6 billion plastic toothbrushes every year across the world and it is estimated that 80% end up in the sea.
Each plastic toothbrush takes up to 1,000 years to decompose creating micro-plastics in the process which end up in sea life and our food chain. These shocking statistics make a switch to a more sustainable alternative a must.
So a bamboo toothbrush is one of must have zero waste products. These bamboo toothbrushes are hygienically sealed using pioneering biodegradable eco wrap made from tree cellulose. They are also vegan and BPA free too.
9. Soap Bar
Ditching your plastic bottle of shower gel for a traditional bar of soap is an easy way to reduce your bathroom waste.
Bamboo charcoal soap is great for cleansing your skin as it absorbs dirt as well as opening and cleaning your pores. I like this bamboo charcoal soap as it is vegan and doesn’t include parabens which are bad for your body or palm oil which is responsible for huge amounts of deforestation.
When you are getting rid of those old plastic bottles though make sure you recycle them. You might think that they can’t be recycled but if you rinse them out and put the lid back on they can simply be added to your household recycling.
10. Shampoo and Conditioner Bar
Once you’ve got rid of the shower gel don’t stop there. Take the next step and ditch the shampoo bottle too in favour of a shampoo and conditioner bar instead.
You can also get separate shampoo and conditioner bars if you like. This very much depends on your hair type and how you need to look after it so it is worth experimenting to find the best solution for you.
It is cheaper to get a two in one shampoo and conditioner bar though. They also last a lot longer than liquid shampoo which saves even more money in the long run. Great for the environment and for your pocket making them one of my essential zero waste products.
Zero Waste Beauty Products
11. Reusable Makeup Wipes
So full disclosure here I am a man and I don’t wear makeup! However, I still think reusable makeup wipes are a must have zero waste swap.
It is estimated that 7.6 billion pounds of disposable wipes are thrown into landfill every year. That equates to an eye watering 1.3 billion wipes being thrown away every single day. So disposable wipes might be convenient but they are a massive environmental problem.
When you realise just how much waste they create switching to reusable makeup wipes is such an obvious choice to make.
This pack of 21 reusable bamboo makeup pads is enough to last a whole week or more so you won’t need to worry about constantly washing them all the time. They also include a laundry bag for easy washing and a handy storage tub.
12. Safety Razor
Disposable razors are another source of waste in our bathrooms that can be easily avoided. The majority of a disposable razor is made from plastic but because of the blade they cannot be recycled for safety reasons. So all those used razors end up in the bin creating a huge amount of plastic waste.
Step forward the safety razor. These use double edge razor blades rather than cartridges and give an extremely close shave whilst still being gentle on your skin. The blades are sharper than cartridge blades and are very economical as well.
This safety razor is extremely strong and durable whilst the bamboo handle ensures a good grip for a clean shave. Replacing the blade is also really easy as it fits all double edge razor blades.
Another bit of good news is that you can recycle your old blades as well. It is not as simple as just tossing them in your recycling bin and you should check arrangements with your local authority.
However, typically it is easiest to store them up in a razor blade box then take them along to your local recycling centre where they can usually be put in the scrap metal container.
13. Bamboo Cotton Buds
Plastic cotton buds are another single use plastic product that are set to be banned in a effort to curb the mountains of waste they contribute to. Unfortunately there isn’t really a reusable alternative so the best solution is a disposable cotton bud which minimises environmental impacts after use.
I think the best solution are these high quality dual-tipped bamboo cotton buds. They are 100% biodegradable, vegan friendly and made from organically grown cotton so are really the most sustainable option. Bamboo is the perfect raw material for ear buds because it copes well with water, does not splinter, is antimicrobial, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. A much more environmentally friendly disposable ear bud than a plastic bud.
Zero Waste Menstrual Products
14. Menstrual Cup
Just to highlight again that I am a man but I really think that menstrual cups are essential zero waste products and here’s why. One menstrual cup can last for as long as 10 years. So that adds up to more than 120 periods and replaces over 3,000 tampons. That is a huge amount of waste right there. Plus you can save a massive amount of money as well by making the one off investment in a menstrual cup.
Zero Waste Cleaning Products
15. Amber Glass Spray Bottles
If you want to stop using cleaning sprays that come in plastic bottles and move to something more sustainable then it is worth investing in some amber glass spray bottles.
Why amber glass I here you say? Well the amber reduces the amount of sunlight that can penetrate the bottle and react with whatever cleaner you have in it. So using amber glass spray bottles keeps your cleaning products fresher and effective for longer.
Similarly glass spray bottles are preferable to plastic ones as it does not react with any DIY cleaning ingredients which can sometimes occur with plastic.
You might think that glass is fragile but these amber glass spray bottles are made with premium toughened glass so they are extremely durable. Perfect for regular use around the home.
They are also very versatile as well. You can use them for essential oils, organic beauty blends and herbal liquids.
16. White Vinegar
Now you’ve got your spray bottles you are ready to start with your own DIY cleaners. White vinegar is such a cheap, effective and multi-purpose cleaner. I recommend buying it in bulk to save more like this four pack of five litre bottles.
Some people find the smell of white vinegar to be a bit overpowering although personally it doesn’t bother me. Fear not though as there are lots of ways you can make your own DIY cleaner infused with a scent of your choice. For example, you can make a simple lavender and rosemary infused cleaner by:
- Adding 1 cup of lavender flowers and a few sprigs of rosemary into a jar (you might need more for a bigger jar);
- Filling your jar with about 2 cups of vinegar;
- Giving it a stir and sealing with a lid then leaving it to sit for 1-2 weeks; and⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- When you are ready to use it dilute with equal parts water and start cleaning!
So even if you don’t like the smell of white vinegar you can still ditch your shop bought cleaner for something more natural.
So that is my list of must have zero waste products. I’d love to hear what you think of it. Are there any zero waste products you couldn’t live without? Let me know in the comments.
Plus if you are still hungry for more why not explore my list of 30 Eco-Friendly Bamboo Products To Reduce Plastic Use.